Jenners: How 'architectural grandeur' rose from the ashes

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

Image source, AAA United
Image caption,
The current Jenners building on Princes Street dates back to 1895

The famous Jenners building rose from the ashes to become a landmark in the centre of Edinburgh.

Founded in 1838, it is one of the oldest department stores in the world to have continuously traded from the same site.

It started out as Kennington & Jenner, named after its founders - linen drapers Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington.

By 1890 the Princes Street store had changed its name to Charles Jenner & Co and had expanded upwards and to adjoining buildings, making it one of the biggest stores in Scotland.

Image source, AAA United

However, the original building was destroyed by fire in 1892.

The look which endures to this day was designed by architect William Hamilton Beattie in the Victorian renaissance revival style.

The new building, renamed Jenners, opened in 1895.

It was extended in 1903, and then again in the 1950s and 1960s.

Image source, AAA United
Image caption,
Original plans show how the building was extended in 1903
Image source, AAA United

The building was sold to private investors in 2005 after House of Fraser bought the Jenners brand and property.

It was then bought by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen in 2017 for a reported £53m.

Anders Krogh Vogdrup - the director of AAA United, which owns the building - said: "We bought this building out of pure fascination, it is the prettiest building in the world.

"We have a passion for its historical character and architectural grandeur.

"It is the jewel in the crown of Edinburgh."

Image source, AAA United
Image caption,
Inside the Jenners department store in 1895

On Monday, he promised that the building would remain a department store - despite the departure of its current tenant, the House of Fraser.

The Fraser Group, which owns the Jenners brand, is quitting the site in May, with the loss of 200 jobs.

Mr Vogdrup said AAA United was in advanced talks with other partners, and wanted to preserve the "grand Victorian age of retail" at the building.

Proposals for a major refurbishment of the department store along with plans for a hotel and rooftop restaurant created in disused rooms of the building were unveiled in 2019.

However, those plans are currently on hold due to the economic climate.

Image source, AAA United
Image caption,
How the interior of 1895 and compares with its current look