Johnnie Walker the owner of the former Binns building at the West End have completed the restoration of the historic clock, enabling couples to use it as a meeting point once again.

The clock is a landmark in Edinburgh’s romantic journey and is situated on the corner of the building where Hope Street meets Princes Street. It had latterly fallen into disrepair while House of Fraser owned the store, but has now been restored in time for Valentine’s Day. Hopefully it will not be too long before we can meet under the clock.

The Cumbria Clock Company undertook the restoration. They have also cared for Big Ben – better known as The Great Clock – and the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool.

When the clock was taken down for repair their crafts people dismantled it to study the original mechanics and colours. There are hand painted Highland figures which march out of the clock to mark the hour and half hour which have also had some TLC.

The musical mechanism plays Caller Herrin and Scotland the Brave every half hour, and the Highland figures will also emerge at 7 minute and 37 minutes after the hour.

Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Diageo’s Scottish Brand Homes, said: “The restoration of the clock has been a lovely part of our work at Johnnie Walker Princes Street. Its heritage and connection with the local community is so poignant, particularly now when people are desperately missing being able to meet and socialise together.

“We wanted to unveil the restored clock in time for Valentine’s Day this year as a symbol of hope for the future, and we can’t wait to see future generations meeting under the clock at Johnnie Walker Princes Street, before enjoying a wonderful day or night out in Scotland’s capital city.”  

Mark Crangle from the Cumbria Clock Company said: “It has been a meticulous process restoring the clock to its original condition. We had to delicately strip back worn paintwork to source and match the clock’s original colours and gold trimmings, and we spent a great amount of time on the speed and timings of the bells, tunes and pipers to ensure it all matched perfectly. 

“Working on this restoration project has been such a privilege and I’ve really enjoyed hearing the stories of what the clock means to locals and how it’s played a role in so many special memories. These stories really consolidate why we do what we do, and we can’t wait for Edinburgh residents to now be able to enjoy the clock again in all its grandeur.”

The restoration of the clock was co-funded by Parabola, the owners of the Johnnie Walker Princes Street building. 

Parabola Managing Director, Tony Hordon, said: “We’re delighted to have played our part in the restoration of this iconic part of the Edinburgh city centre landscape and we look forward to it being enjoyed by residents and visitors for many years to come.”

Johnnie Walker Princes Street will tell the 200-year-old story of the world’s best scotch whisky across an eight-floor multisensory visitor attraction. Due to open in summer 2021, the whisky experience will feature rooftop bars, private dining areas, modern sensory tasting rooms, personalised tour and tasting experiences, and live performance areas.

The opening of the state-of-the-art visitor centre is part of Diageo’s £185m investment into the transformation of its Scotch whisky experiences, which will also see investment into 12 of Diageo’s Scotch whisky brand homes and the revival of lost distilleries Port Ellen and Brora. 

For more updates on the project and for exclusive news and behind the scenes content, sign up to the Johnnie Walker Princes Street mailing list at

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Founding Editor of The Edinburgh Reporter.
Edinburgh-born multimedia journalist and iPhoneographer.