Design Focus: The Scottish Engineer

It’s not every day that you see a wee model train whizzing around a circular track above a bar, but that’s exactly what the newly refurbished Scottish Engineer in Edinburgh now boasts. This is just one of loads of new enhancements to the pub as a result of a £500k refurbishment of the former Telford Arms by Belhaven Pub Partners and Ecosse Inns, who invested jointly in the project.

The pub’s new operator, Ecosse Inns’ Andrena Smith-Bowes, is pictured with her team on the cover of this month’s DRAM in front of The Scottish Engineer.

It is, in fact, the latest pub to undergo a major refurbishment by Belhaven Pub Partners as part of a wider investment in its tenanted Scottish pubs, which has seen £7m invested in around a third of its estate over the past three years.

Ecosse Inns also counts Edinburgh’s Barologist in its stable of bars, which has a reputation for an imaginative, quirky interior design and there are certainly similar elements in this, its sister venue, which also marks the sixth pub Ecosse Inns has taken on with Belhaven Pub Partners.

As the name suggests, it has been named as a tribute to all of the wonderful bygone Scottish engineers that have helped shape the modern world  we live in – like James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird, and there are nods to them in the form of pictures and various other engineering-related object d’art (well that’s my interpretation of it at any rate).

And there’s a lot of it all dotted around the place. In design terms, this sure is one busy bar.

Belhaven worked closely with Andrena on the design and the reinvigorated business also created around 30 extra jobs in the area, with the pub now employing a team of 36.

Said Andrena, “It’s absolutely perfect timing for summer and we’ve been packed since opening. We took a pub that wasn’t trading too well and decided to turn it into a tribute to all the great engineers of Scotland, such as Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird,

“It feels amazing to see my business growing and to me it’s all about the people. It’s about the staff we employ and the development within the team and also the customers. We’re so thrilled they’re joining us in paying tribute to the great engineers of Scotland by turning this pub into a beautiful, comfortable, family-friendly environment.”

Greene King Pub Partners (owners of Belhaven) managing director Wayne Shurvinton, added, “The Scottish Engineer looks absolutely amazing and I’m delighted for Andrena and her team. “We’re always looking to support our pubs and are thrilled to have invested significantly in both the Scottish Engineer and the Barologist to help reinvent two brilliant pubs for pub-goers in Edinburgh.”

Let’s look at some of the design highlights, starting with the outside of the pub and the sign, complete with tank and water-wheel, which also rather ingeniously contains a smoke machine to create a steam effect, on the side of which is emblazoned the pub’s logo. There’s also wooden bench seating and flower boxes that also house wooden posts that support the lighting that’s been strung up above all the seating. I also like the two wooden horseshoe-shaped benches that have been laid out opposite one another to form an oval smoking area.

Inside, there are a number of key design highlights in what is a really varied design. Sitting below that train is what you’d call a traditional bar design, with oak wood bar and lighter wood back bar surround that also incorporates metal shelving that makes up the gantry.

The floor in front of the bar is decorated in black and white tiles with triangular shapes that have been laid in such a way they form
a pattern that’s not uniform and this make for a really interesting aesthetic. There’s also a varied assortment of furniture, including high wooden
posing tables and banquette seating in a rust-red colour and this same rule applies to the ceiling lights, like the oblong square boxes that hang down to shade the light bulbs within.

There’s also lighting that’s housed in a long black box that resembles the type of lighting that illuminates professional snooker tables. Dividing the two main areas within the bar is a set of shelves displaying nick-nacks like vases, a lantern, a miniature bike and a bust wearing a hat and with a light bulb protruding from its head. The area beyond this, that’s farthest away from the bar, has more of the same, plus a selection of pictures hanging on the walls in clusters, plus a big screen TV and a patterned carpet and some fairly big up-lighters that look like they should be lighting a film set rather than a bar.

There’s also a grey painted fireplace in this area. And the hodgepodge theme continues in this area, courtesy of furniture that’s a mixture of natural wood chairs and tables and painted ones. In the restaurant area which sits off to the side of the two aforementioned areas are banquettes in darker brownish-red colour, with corrugated glass dividers.

This area also boasts a mixture of gun-metal grey pained walls and white tiles and even more talking-point ornamental details, and I was also struck by some of the brass/gold wall lights, some of which have a Victorian look and feel to them. The Scottish Engineer has captured a part of Scots history in a fun and breezy way through its interior design, and given it’s so wide-ranging, there’s probably an aspect to suit most customers’ taste.

Jason Caddy

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