Riddles Court Renovation

Cowgate children have been exploring ideas about building and builders with Russell Clegg from Scottish Historic Buildings Trust. The partnership began because of SHBT’s renovation of Riddles Court, which will open as the Patrick Geddes Learning Centre in 2017.

brief overview from Russell:

  • In 2016 we did a small scale project called ‘Building and Builders’. I came to the nursery each Monday morning for six weeks
  • The Riddle Court site manager came to visit the children to talk about working on a construction site.
  • We used songs, books, small scale and large scale materials to think about and create different building scenarios
  • We walked up the High Street from Old Assembly Close to Forest School at Johnstone Terrace, via Riddle’s Court – the children pointed out different shapes and architectural features which we recorded.
  • The children visited the site and met some of the builders and we continued ‘problem solving’ with the construction materials in the nursery
  • In July I helped with the the nusery’s garden overhaul.
  • In September we visited the Forest school garden again and did a small scale nature study towards a ‘scrapbook’ for the Time Capsule and we planted seed bombs (seeds ready implanted in balls of clay) in the nursery garden.
  • In October, Trevor, Lisa and some of the children attended the Time Capsule (the scrapbook went inside it) ceremony at Riddle’s Court, coming on to site to see it put in place.
  • And in October I visited ‘StickLand’ with Teresa and Donna to join in with the children’s outdoor experiences. Read more about the children’s experiences with Russell and the SHBT Riddles Court Renovation in these online features:


There is a shared history between Cowgate and Patrick Geddes. From 1906 through to 1970s there was a ‘Child Garden (Kindergarten) nursery in Canongate. This was one of several nature kindergartens in Edinburgh which were led by Froebel educated teachers and which valued outdoor learning and care for gardens and animals. Patrick Geddes, the great improver and planner, advised on the garden plans for the Canongate kindergarten. While Cowgate is not on the site of these original Froebel nurseries it continues the emphasis on children’s discovery and learning through outdoor experiences in the heart of the city.