Scotland's oldest purpose-designed concert hall is to have a facelift as it prepares to become a cultural and community hub.


St Cecilia's Hall in Edinburgh has been awarded a grant to help to regenerate the hidden Georgian gem by Edinburgh World Heritage.

The body that oversees and promotes the city's World Heritage Site has announced a grant of £100,000 towards the re-development of St Cecilia's exterior, which in the 1700s was decorated with a classical portico and had a private courtyard for parking sedan chairs.

The exterior work is part of a wider £6.5 million project for the A listed building that dates to 1763 and was designed by architect Robert Mylne.

EWH said that when it was first opened the building made quite an impact on Edinburgh society, with one observer commenting "I have seen no concert room equal to it either in London or Paris".

The building is owned by the University of Edinburgh and houses its world-class collection of historical musical instruments.

However EWH said later additions to St Cecilia's have left the original Georgian concert hall hidden from view at the heart of the building.

The university's vision is to restore and renovate the building and its facilities in order to preserve its collection and broaden its appeal to a wider public.

The new project looks to turn St Cecilia's Hall into a new centre for excellence for the study, display and enjoyment of historical musical instruments, and to be a place where public exhibition, research, performance, teaching and learning intersect.

Along with the new exhibition, improvements will also be carried out to oval concert room with tiered seating and staging platforms.

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: "St Cecilia's Hall is one of the city's gems and really deserves this chance to shine. Its conservation, revitalisation and the opportunity to re-present the extraordinary instrument collections will help change our perception of Niddry Street as the back of the South Bridge, and will encourage residents and visitors to further explore the city.

"We are thrilled to be supporting this initiative for an important and living part of this city's musical heritage, and are excited by how it links with other initiatives to lift the Royal Mile and Old Town, such as the recent works to the Scotsman Steps, or the work of the Canongate Holyrood Initiative."

Jacky MacBeath, Head of Museums at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This is a hugely significant grant for the St Cecilia's Hall Project, and we are immensely grateful to Edinburgh World Heritage.

"Conserving the 18th century building is integral to the success of the whole Project, and it is great to have such a generous gift from EWH towards these works. We've also benefitted hugely from advice and expertise from this supportive local trust."

The EWH grant will help fund conservation of the historic stonework, enhancing the historic features of the building. t will particularly focus on the original Georgian Niddry Street side, which was once the main entrance to the building.

The work will consist of stonework repairs, repointing in lime mortar, slating and leadwork to the roof.

Work to the exterior will start next month and is due to be completed in September 2016, when the overall renovations is due for completion.

The overall redevelopment of the site which is home to 4000 objects in the permanent collection constitute a rich resource, and include many models of musical instruments spanning over 500 years, together with prized rare and unique items, is due to be complete in .