Archers to target student housing

IT came as a bolt from the blue when an ancient archery society fired off a letter forcing Edinburgh's oldest bowling club out of business.

Now the Royal Company of Archers has set its sights on creating the city's most exclusive student accommodation in the grounds set to be vacated by its former neighbours.

Edinburgh Bowling Club has leased the land in Meadow Lane from the royal company – based in the neighbouring Archer's Hall – since it was formed in 1848.

But earlier this year the archers, who are the Queen's official bodyguards when she is in Scotland, informed the club they were targeting the land for redevelopment.

The RCA has submitted plans for a 90-bed student block in order to fund vital refurbishment and development work to the B-listed Archer's Hall on Buccleuch Street.

David Younger, chairman of the RCA's development company, Bowmen Limited, said: "We have been looking at ways to preserve the hall and its collection, and to create a steady flow of income for the society.

"While Archer's Hall is rich in artifacts, it is not rich in cash and that has always been a problem for us.

"We looked at selling off part of the ground, but decided it would be better to work with Edinburgh University in the creation of student accommodation."

Under the proposals, a new indoor shooting range would also be created, allowing the club to promote interest in the sport and provide better facilities for disabled archers.

The proposed development will also see the demolition of the existing lodge at the south-east side of the grounds, which is currently leased by the bowling club.

The bowling club's secretary Ian Miller said the organisation would cease to exist when its lease expired on November 30th.

"The RCA did try and help us get in touch with other local clubs, but there was nothing that would allow us to keep going, so that is it for us," he said.

"We have around 50 members, and I suppose they will have to look for other clubs.

"It is a shame, but there isn't really anything we can do about it."

Founded in 1676, the RCA received its Royal Charter in 1706.

Over the years its members have included soldiers, scientists, lawyers and politicians.

Some famous former members include historic figures such as Sir Walter Scott and Sir Henry Raeburn.

Among the artifacts currently held in Edinburgh are the silver Musselburgh Arrow trophy, made in 1603 and reputed to be the world's oldest sporting trophy still regularly competed for.

The RCA said that without the development, the collection may be split up, adding that the loss of the collection would be "disastrous" for Scotland.

Archer's Hall Planning Application

Source: Gareth Edwards, Evening News, Wednesday, 17th September, 2008