Jimmy Boyle sculpture to be demolished


Craigmillar Sculpture

By Alexander Lawrie

A SCULPTURE designed by murderer-turned-artist Jimmy Boyle is to be demolished as part of a plan to improve flood defences in Edinburgh.

Gulliver the Gentle Giant has spent the last three decades slumbering in an Edinburgh field but will now be destroyed to make way for a new flood prevention scheme.

Unveiled by Scots funnyman Billy Connolly in 1976, the feature has been part of the landscape in Craigmillar, Edinburgh for over 30 years.

But locals have slammed the plans for the destruction of the iconic concrete landmark claiming it is “an integral part of the community”.

However a multi-million pound plan will see his creation make way for a new water course created as part of flood prevention and regeneration of the once-run down area.

Generations of fun

It had initially been hoped that the popular sculpture could be saved.

But a recent survey has shown the concrete and steel giant is in such a state of repair that any attempts to move it would prove futile.

David Walker, from the Craigmillar Community Council, said: “It’s a real shame they are to break the statue up. A number of people will not be happy about this decision as kids around here have played there for generations.

“I believe the flood measure reasons given by the council are just a smokescreen because this is all about house prices.

“They want to create a canyon between the old, traditional Niddrie and the new housing scheme they are building on the football pitches.

“There has been no flooding around here for years, so why they are concerned about flood barriers is beyond me.

“The sculpture really is an iconic and integral part of our community.”

Alternative routes to work around the giant have been explored by the city’s council but it has been decided the loss of the artwork is preferable to losing some of the adjacent sports pitches that surround it.

Sculpture had its day

Craigmillar Sculpture

Local councillor Mike Bridgeman said he loved playing on the statue as a child but it was now time for the giant to go.

He said: “I can remember running all over it when I was growing up there and it was great fun, but I have been told it is in a very bad state of repair at the moment.

“It was built of concrete and steel frames, and has been there for more than 30 years, so it has probably had its day.

“It’s a shame though, and I hope when they are drawing up plans for a piece of art to replace it they take the time to speak to the local community, and work with them to create something that people want to see.”

The proposed work for the area includes realigning a 1,800 metre stretch to create a natural river corridor to provide the community with better protection from flooding.

Features such as cycle ways, seating, new meadows and an otter refuge will also be incorporated into the new design for the area.

John Bury, the council’s head of planning, said: “The development of a new river course will necessitate the loss of the Gulliver sculpture. Any solution involving the relocation of the sculpture is likely to destroy the sculpture.

“Although the loss of the sculpture is significant, the proposals for a new river corridor provide new art work.

Plans for the proposed Niddrie Burn restoration project are widely expected to be approved when they are put before the council later this week.

The 100-foot long statue was designed by murderer Boyle during his notorious stay at Barlinnie Prison.

Boyle’s autobiography of his battle with the authorities, A Sense of Freedom, won various literary awards and was made into a hard-hitting drama starring David Hayman.

On his release from prison in 1980, Boyle married his psychotherapist Sarah Trevelyan and now lives with second wife, British actress Kate Fenwick, in France.


  1. I’d never heard of this before, but it’s a great story. Here’s hoping the bastard council are stopped in their tracks and the sculpture gets a new lease of life.

  2. Well Jimmy, if you wer some, and shall we say, some artist if posh stature, this would not be happening. I have a respect fore you in a differenr contects from others.
    I have met you once or twice, thought I might have felt an inner fear talking to you, but nope. I like you, have a reputation in nthe past, and blown out of proportion. If you had any idea what so ever, the nunber of times that I would have loved to have times to sit down and talk to you, NOT ABOUIT FRIGGIN CRIME, but about art, and not about in that arty farty way, but man to man, have a laugh or two. You are a hard man to trace down . Here is some of ther dhit I have down over my years in the websites, please have time to look over them.
    As for your art being removed, god, does it piss me off,! I could share stories about some of my work you would piss you yourslf laughing at. and in this time in age, its something we all need. When I goot stuck upside down in those 25 foot fiberglass floors in Glenrothes, and thought I would die up side doen in there with ther blood rushing to my head.
    If you could find time to talk to me, I would really enoy it. No tapes, to eritting down of stuff, no filming, just two old artists shareing ideas.

    emails of some of my sites. addresses.




    Sandy Fraser

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