Key Edinburgh landmark restored

Edinburgh-based William Purves stepped up at the last minute to repair the broken headstone of Greyfriars Bobby’s master, one of Scotland’s most visited landmarks, ahead of a large memorial event earlier this year.

The repair was donated by the funeral director firm when Chairman Tim Purves heard that the City of Edinburgh Council would be unable to repair the stone for a memorial event to mark the 160th anniversary of John Gray’s death.

Tim, who is the fifth generation of the Scottish family firm, contacted the council to arrange a memorial repair in time for the anniversary event.

Tim said: “We’re delighted to share our specialist expertise for this well-loved landmark.

“Like many Edinburgh folk, I thought it would be a shame for the dignitaries to celebrate this anniversary around a broken headstone and knew we had the specialist expertise to help out.”

The team of highly skilled craftsmen provided memorials and stonemasonry expertise across the country from their base in the Scottish Borders. Most recently, the team co-ordinated repairs to notable heritage graves in Peebles and Jedburgh and as well as regularly providing memorial work for the 27 branches in the William Purves group.

A few weeks later the group donated its services to another of the capital’s almost-forgotten personalities – see the article on the opposite page.

The legend of Greyfriars Bobby dates back to the late 19th century. The Skye terrier is said to have kept a constant guard over the grave of its owner John Gray, also known as Auld Jock, in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years. A memorial to the dog and his master’s grave are among the capital’s most visited landmarks.

News of the rescued stone prompted an international response with messages of thanks from tourists, dog lovers, residents, heritage groups and locals alike and was covered in the national and regional media.

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