Edinburgh City Council own the Assembly Rooms building but it was closed for significant refurbishment. William Burdett Coutts, who has run Fringe shows in the building for the last 30 years, took his enterprise up to George Square as a result. This is now known as Assembly Festival and comprises Assembly George Square, Assembly Hall, Assembly Inverleith Allotments, Assembly Roxy, Assembly Royal Botanic Gardens and Assembly St. Marks.
However, this year the Assembly Rooms have now re-opened, looking very good, and are now being run by Tommy Shepherd. Shepherd also runs The Stand, the comedy venue that operates throughout the year.
Neither Shepherd nor Coutts are willing to give up on the Assembly brand. Hence the confusion.
This all became apparent after a simple question was asked; “What’s the wi-fi password for the Assembly Rooms?”
You see. There is wi-fi available to connect to in the Assembly Rooms. Turn your wi-fi on inside the building and you’ll see a strong connection for “Assembly Rooms Internet”.
Once you connect and open your browser you’ll encounter a simple registration page that asks for your email address. This is common. Even in free wi-fi zones like Starbucks (some of them) you have to register (even if that’s pressing a button).
However, in the Assembly Rooms once you surrender your email address you’re then asked for a password. The system does not supply a password to you. There’s no email.
Asking staff for the password doesn’t get you very far – “There is no wi-fi”, you’ll probably be told.
Turning to Twitter and asking any of the Assembly accounts is the wrong thing to do. Wrong Assembly, you see. From their new base on George Square, Assembly deny being on George Street.
They are, of course, right.
The correct account to ask is @ARfring. However, despite the presence of the wi-fi, these guys too deny having any wi-fi.
What’s going on? Is this a sting to collect email addresses from unwary punters? Are you putting your tablet or smartphone at risk by trying to connect to “Assembly Rooms Internet”.
The short answer is – I don’t know.
But probably not.
There’s a clue in the URL of the page that asks for your email address. It’s;
That’s not the full URL. The full URL includes a query string with your MAC address – but that’s enough to point the finger at the local Edinburgh council.
Frustratingly it does seem to be “Council public wifi” and so there might be a password available for the public. If it’s out there – Shepherd and his staff don’t seem able to share it. That’s a shame. If you’re waiting in the pub, just outside one of the Assembly Room’s venues, and all you want to do is browse Edinburgh Reviews, check your Facebook or even tweet about how nice the place now looks – you’ll have to do it via a mobile signal.
Update: The password is Welcome1
Picture credit: Edinburgh Spotlight.