About The Royal High School Preservation Trust
Background to the Trust
The Trust was established in 2015 with the ambition to conserve the Hamilton building and protect its setting; to find an economically sustainable and culturally suitable use for the whole site; and to establish substantial public access and usage.
By 2016, the Trust’s proposal to create a new home for St Mary’s Music School in the former Royal High School building had received enthusiastic and robust support from significant heritage, city planning and education partners – including Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage, the Cockburn Association, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, the New Town and Broughton Community Council, and the Edinburgh Urban Design Panel, as well as over 3,000 members of the public. Our scheme was granted full planning permission and listed building consent, valid until 2023.
The RHSPT is finalising a 125 year lease in order to repurpose the site as a National Centre for Music. The project will:
- preserve, promote and sustain the architectural integrity of this Edinburgh World Heritage Site;
- return the building to its original use as a school, but significantly expand it into a space for all to enjoy;
- align with the City of Edinburgh’s planning aspirations now and into the future;
- provide St Mary’s Music School with a home befitting its talents and aspirations; and
- put culture and music at the heart of Edinburgh’s offering to citizens and visitors alike.
The period from 2016 to 2021 has allowed us to consult on and revise some aspects of our consented proposal and to evolve our ambitions for the building into a vision for a National Centre for Music with clearly defined spaces for education, community engagement and performance, set in generous and fully accessible gardens.
Both increased funding to meet this expanded vision, along with an endowment to support the building in the long-term, have been pledged by Dunard Fund. This now stands at a total of £55m.
The project will be a catalyst for Scotland to fulfil its potential as a world leader in music education, building on our strong national tradition of music education. A new National Centre for Music, working with St Mary’s Music School and a number of other key partners can play a valuable role in:
- creating a new cultural venue that will add vibrancy to the city in terms of placemaking, design and diversity of use, in the iconic Thomas Hamilton building;
- fulfilling Scotland’s potential to be a world leader in music education, based on the nation’s strong tradition and heritage in performing, writing and producing a diverse range of musical output;
- bringing together key stakeholders to create a sustainable and joined-up plan for music education in Scotland, that responds to existing gaps in provision;
- developing the next generation of musical talent in Scotland, by providing a world-class musical and academic education for musically gifted children within the inspiring and inclusive environment of St Mary’s Music School;
- advocating for resources and access for all into music education, building on all major political parties’ pledges to scrap fees for instrument tuition in schools;
- providing opportunities for Continued Professional Development (CPD) and training of Scotland’s music teachers;
- focussing on giving young people the skillset to manage a 21st century music career in areas such as leadership, production, promotion, management and technology;
- hosting research and development projects that bring together music organisations, non-music organisations and academics, contributing to fostering innovation in education; and
- fostering international links for musicians, music organisation and teachers.
More information on the organisation can be found at https://www.rhspt.org/