Best 5 Unfinished Scottish Things
1. National Monument, Edinburgh
The capital’s version of the Parthenon has long been an albatross round the neck of The Athens of the North, a rather ironic nom-de-plume when you consider that the Greek original was actually completed before it fell foul of a Venetian mortar. The money ran out on the National Monument project only a few years after work started in 1822 and to this day Edinburgh’s Folly sits unfinished atop Calton Hill. This memorial to the fallen in the Napoleonic Wars seems destined to remain incomplete as local indifference and financial prudence puts paid to any plans to complete it.
2. “Weir of Hermiston” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s sudden death in 1894 put paid to what many regard to be his masterpiece. Published two years after his demise, Weir of Hermiston tells the tale of a fractious relationship between Lord Hermiston (based on the real Lord Braxfield), a “hanging” judge, and his son Archie Weir. Exiled from the family home, Archie becomes a laird and begins a relationship with Christina. This, however, is where the book “ends”. Stevenson died in Upolu in Samoa where he had settled with his wife. David Rintoul, famous for his portrayal as Dr. Findlay, made his small screen debut as Archie Weir in a 1973 made-for-TV film.
3. The Usher Hall, Edinburgh
The Hall was originally built in 1896 and has enjoyed a colourful past. It hosted the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest, the boxing at the 1986 Commonwealth Games and political rallies. Despite the current renovation being incomplete the Usher Hall has opened, at an estimated cost of £600,000, to host four concerts during the Edinburgh International Festival. Work began in 2005 and the proposed “21st century concert hall” should be completed by late summer 2009*. You can see how the work is coming along at the Usher Hall’s blog: http://www.usher-hall.blogspot.com*. (*The work appears to have been completed on the Usher Hall now and is scheduled to officially reopen in October 2010. Shame they didn’t keep up the blog.)
4. Edinburgh Tramworks
Am I the only middle-aged person who wonders if I’ll actually be around to see the completion of one of the contentious projects in Scottish history? Political arguments, countless delays and endless traffic chaos have made this a never-ending story of Mahābhārata proportions. Will it be worth it? Only time will tell. You can keep up to date with its progress at http://www.edinburghtrams.com
This Top 5 originally appeared in early 2009 as a contribution to The Scotsman’s excellent, but sadly departed, Recommends feature.