From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


Run Away Success!

Runners on the canalThe 2014 Wester Hailes Fun Run/ Walk was all about the fun of taking part. Serious runners lined up with families, children in buggies, fancy dress runners and those who planned to walk round. A new route took everyone along the canal, as well as starting and finishing at the WHEC. The Lord Provost welcomed everyone to the day before taking off his chain and joining the competitors! Chloe Hynd, winner of the Edinburgh Libraries Baton competition got the race underway with a wave of her winning baton.

The Fun Run is organised by a group of local organisations including Prospect Community Housing, Wester Hailes Community Council, CHAI, The Health Agency, SCOREscotland, KCYC Youth Club, WHEC, Clovenstone Community Centre and Police Scotland. Many thanks as well to the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership and the Wester Hailes Land And Property Trust whose funding supported the event so generously.

The original Wester Hailes Fun Run took place during the 1980s and 1990s. It was a very popular event attracting serious runners but also those who were more interested in the fun element. It WH_FunRun17eventually stopped in the mid 1990s and was sadly missed in the area. After being highlighted as a great way to bring the local community together, it was decided by a group of local organisations and residents to bring back the fun run to see if the great community spirit of the original event could be passed on to the present.  The Digital Sentinel put together some great videos of the 2014 Fun Run which show how much of a community celebration it was.  The one below shows everyone warming up before the run.  You can see the other videos and photos at The Digitial Sentinel’s site.

 

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This year, thanks to support from the WHEC, people taking part were timed. If you were part of the event, see if you can find your time below!  Either click on the link or check out the chart.  It’s the first year of trying this, so the Planning Group hope that the times recorded match what you think you achieved.  For those who couldn’t be identified, there will need to be a reminder next year to wear your number on your front, or just to remember to wear your number at all!

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  2014  Fun Run Results

Wester Hailes Fun Run results 2014

Wester Hailes Fun Run results 2014

 

 


Bus stopped

Bus to RestalrigPublic transport is one of the issues re-appearing in the Sentinel across the years, demonstrating its continuing priority for people living in Wester Hailes.  Pictures of local buses put up on the Facebook page always attract comment as people document memories and stories associated with bus travel.  The sprinter buses in particular are remembered with fondness!  But the popularity of the images also points to the fact that for many people in the area, buses were their only source of transport.

In 1983 only a quarter of the local population owned a car and were therefore reliant on bus routes.  This often required a detailed knowledge of bus times, and for some residents a long walk to reach a stop.  The report Ten Years On commented

 “In an area the size of Wester Hailes, certain neighbourhoods are obviously going to be worse off than others.  On top of this the estate is primarily designed for the private car and many areas are inaccessible to buses, so quite long walks to and from the bus stops are often necessary.”

Local interest in bus routes and timetables remained high, leading to Sentinel coverage whenever a route was introduced or altered or when a route was stopped.  In 1993 Hailesland East Neighbourhood Council organised a public meeting to discuss and debate the bus service or lack of bus service for the Hailesland/ Murrayburn/ Dumbryden area.  They were keen to lobby their local Regional Councillors to try to get the 30 route re-instated as was reported here.

Bus stoppedLater on that year, the Sentinel highlighted that in the blaze of publicity surrounding the new multi million pound Gyle Shopping Centre, there had been little consideration given to how residents from Wester Hailes would get there if they used public transport.  This was of particular concern to people who had managed to get jobs at the new site.

In 2000, First Bus withdrew their popular C5 service, leading to a reduced service for Clovenstone.  The Sentinel report highlighted the difficulties this caused, particularly for residents who found it difficult to walk to routes and stops further away, or the other side of busy roads.

Bus services into the city centre have improved over the years with frequent timetables and weekend and late night provision.  However, the issue of travelling round the area, or travelling to other neighbouring communities remains more problematic.  The community has had to fight to retain services such as the 18 and the 20, enabling access to the Gyle, Asda and the Royal Infirmary.  Now the community council is concerned that the public transport links to the new Healthy Living Centre, due to open next month, will not be suitable for people who find walking difficult.  It is frustrating that despite all the years of campaigning for better public transport routes, the local community is still not included in decision making processes when designs are being considered for this aspect.  If they had been, they would have been able to point out that the 30 whilst running near to the centre does not have stops close enough for people with limited walking ability, particularly if you are on the out of city route.  The community council has therefore organised a special meeting to look at this issue and to see if a proper solution can be implemented to ensure that the new centre is fully inclusive. The meeting is on Wednesday 14th August 6pm at the Wester Hailes Library.  Representatives from Lothian Buses and councillors will be there.


Green Times

Terry Nutkins at the Calders helping to plant trees

Terry Nutkins at the Calders helping to plant trees

With the sun shining and soaring temperatures, people want to be outside whenever possible to enjoy the weather, and to catch a cool breeze if it’s all feeling a bit too much for a Scottish summer!  In an area where many people don’t have their own garden or access to a communal garden, having areas of green space that can be used and enjoyed is of great importance.  In the mid-View over lake to shopping centre1960s when plans for Wester Hailes were being drawn up, it is clear that in the early stages, green space was an integral part of the design, with open planted areas and pathways lined by trees.  However these plans never made it off the drawing board, and the main open space provided was the famously vast car park deserts surrounding the new high rise blocks.

Whilst there were many pressing needs to be addressed in the early days of Wester Hailes, more accessible green space was part of the aim for a better area.  When looking at the current state of park land and possible sites for green development, the report Ten Years On commented that the fact there was no proper park in the area was deeply regrettable.  It went on to say

 “It is worth mentioning as an aside that even some of the worst industrial slums of the nineteenth century were provided with parks near at hand by the planners of the day.”

Over the years, great efforts were made to increase green space and to break up Clovenstone gardenthe concrete with grass, trees and planting.  The schools played an important role, with children taking part in planting projects.  This was sometimes to improve the area within the school playground such as the wildlife garden planted by children at Clovenstone Primary School in 1991.  But schools were also involved in wider planting schemes to improve local areas.  One hundred children from Dumbryden Primary School planted 100 plants in Dumbryden Grove as part of a series of environmental improvements carried out there.

The appointment of an Environmental Ranger for the area helped boost the profile of local environmental issues, and the Ranger had a regular column in the Sentinel.  After a year in post, he listed some of the new activities and groups with a focus on improving the environment.  Later that year he wrote about the importance of green space, and listed some of the nearest green spaces within walking distance of Wester Hailes.

union canalMany people from outside the area still have preconceived ideas about what the area looks like, and the enduring image of those desolate bare car parks seems to be part of the many myths surrounding Wester Hailes.  Visitors to the area, particularly on a summer day are often surprised by how different the reality is.  The environmental improvements carried out as part of the re-opening of the Union Hailes Quarry ParkCanal have resulted in a great asset for the area.  The development of Hailes Quarry Park has created community parkland with new additions including the recently planted wildflower meadow.  Over in Westburn, the Community Woodland was developed from a derelict woodland site into a conserved community resource.  Gate 55 is currently developing its garden space through a gardening project, there are new allotments at Dumbryden and a community garden, the Green Gym in the Calders.  These and other developments over the years have resulted in a better balance of developed land alongside green space with mature trees.  The City of Edinburgh Council recognises how important trees are and is in the process of consulting over Trees In The City, a draft set of policies and action plan which will be used to guide the management of its trees and woodlands.  In its introduction it states,

“Trees make a vital contribution to quality of life in Edinburgh.”

There has recently been disquiet in Wester Hailes over what some see as a new tarmacking policy being implemented in the area to reduce the need to maintain grass and bushy plants due to budget cuts.  Residents have mixed views but it is perhaps not much of a choice to be offered either overgrown untended bushes or an area of tarmac.  You can read about a recent campaign and its results here.

After an intensive planting scheme had been carried out in the early 1990s, the Ranger detailed in the Sentinel some of the benefits this planting brought to the people living there, to the community as a whole, and to the environment.

Benefits of green space


Investing In The Calders

Calders centre

The City Of Edinburgh Council announced this week that it is planning to give the Calders area a £500,000 makeover.  Work will include improving pavements, fencing, boundary walls and installing a new children’s play area.  The revamp project is due to start in November this year and be completed by Spring 2014.

The Calders as a housing area was developed earlier than the rest of WesterCalders high rises Hailes with 537 pre-fab homes being constructed in 1956.  However Edinburgh was facing a housing crisis as it sought to tackle appalling living standards in its tenements, many of which were now only fit for demolition.  Building new homes seemed the obvious answer, but there was a lack of suitable land, and the council of the day turned its attention to the land being occupied by low density pre-fabs.  Edinburgh had 4,000 of these, the highest number of any city in Scotland, and planners estimated that they could fit 10,000 new homes where the pre-fabs stood.  Despite strong objections from those living in the pre-fabs, they were cleared to make way for higher density housing, including high rise blocks to provide 1,300 homes.

Calders Residents protestAs with many of the high rise developments of the time, the Calders blocks suffered from design faults and building flaws.  Residents responded through protest campaigns and by working with the rest of the Wester Hailes community to highlight the problems.  In 1980, the Sentinel reported that a petition from the residents of Dunsyre House had led to the decision that a caretaker would be installed there, when appropriate housing became available.  The Sentinel commented,

In view of the difficulties which tenants experience in transferring out of high rise block, “appropriate housing” becoming available could take some time.

The council instigated improvements over the years, but these were still not always designed around the needs of the tenants.  In 1986 the Sentinel reported on the plight of a mother living in Cobbinshawe House who was struggling to get her pram through the block’s doors.  The sliding doors had been replaced after vandalism, but the new doors were now too heavy to hold open whilst pushing a pram.  You can read the story in full here.

The CaldersWhilst residents of the Calders faced difficult living conditions, community activity was strong.  Although Calders was not always included in initial local community structures, by the time the Representative Council was established, it was part of this key body.  In 1979 and 1980, much of local activity focus for the Calders was around the Outer City Bypass proposals.  But the tenants association also dealt with a range of other issues as can be seen in the Sentinel’s February 1980 Around The Areas Report.  Neighbourhood councils were formed to represent the different areas within Calders and in 1991, it was reported that the Calders Court and Gardens was the first low rise housing area in the Calders to establish a neighbourhood council.

It is therefore great news for the Calders not only to have this investment announced but also to know that residents in the area are continuing to invest in their area through campaigning and community events.  The Calders Residents Association recently organised a Summer Fete for the area and you can find out more about them here.


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Celebrating Community Past and Present

Photo by Digital Sentinel

Photo by Digital Sentinel

Over 120 runners and walkers turned out to take part in the 2013 Wester Hailes Fun Run/ Walk.  All sorts of people took part: young and old, faster and the more sedate, families, local workers, runners in fancy dress, and parents walking with children in buggies.  Lots of people took part to raise money for

Photo taken by Digital Sentinel

Photo taken by Digital Sentinel

local charities and community groups.  The sun shone throughout the morning, and competitors were glad to find a water station at Clovenstone Community Centre after they had made it up that steep Greenway hill!  They were cheered on their way by local residents and by volunteer route stewards making sure that everyone went the right way.  The run was won by

Photo by Digital Sentinel

Photo by Digital Sentinel

Number 136, Richard Brown from the Wester Hailes Education Centre.  But for most people, the emphasis was on the fun of taking part and the achievement of completing the 5k route.  Funding for the event came from the South West Edinburgh Neighbourhood Partnership’s Community Grants Fund.  The Fun Run/ Walk was organised by a local planning group that includes Prospect Community Housing, Wester Hailes Health Agency, Wester Hailes Community Council, Clovenstone Community Centre, Active Schools, WHALE, Police Scotland, SCOREscotland, and CHAI.

Fun Run 1994

The idea to bring back the Fun Run was suggested here a couple of years ago when looking at the history of this event.  The original Fun Run started in 1983 and quickly grew as a community event with over 500 people taking part in 1992.  Although the competitive runners took it very seriously, it was really about everybody taking part together and being involved in their local community.  Sentinel photos taken of the run show that a wide range of people took part and that the event really promoted a sense of a community celebrating together.

Fun Run 4When local residents and organisations got together to re-launch the Fun Run last year, they wanted to include some elements of the original route, and some of those involved remembered how the event used to be organised which was very helpful in planning out the new run.  But it was the sense of bringing people together that they felt was the most important aspect of the old Fun Run and they hoped that the new event could reflect this.  In 2012, despite the heavy rain, there was a feeling that this was happening as those taking part said how much they had enjoyed the experience.  This year, with a clear sky and sunshine, there was a great atmosphere but this was really generated by the people taking part who cheered each other on across the route.  Those who completed the run quickly stayed on to support those finishing at a more sedate pace.  There’s now a feeling that there should be something else in the park after the Fun Run to build on this sense of community celebration.

The Sentinel used to record the Fun Run each year with a report but most

Photo by Digital Sentinel

Photo by Digital Sentinel

importantly photographs showing the range of people taking part and the involvement of the community.  The 2013 Fun Run greatly benefited from the new Digital Sentinel who were there throughout the morning taking photos and interviewing participants.  As well as showing what happened, this is an opportunity to build an archive for the future.  It was seeing the old Sentinel photos of the Fun Run that really encouraged people to start asking if it was possible to start this event again.  These sorts of archives aren’t only about creating a record of the past as a memory.  They also have a role to play in shaping future ideas and activities through reflection on what can be learned from the past and adapted for the present.  The 2013 Wester Hailes Fun Run was not a replica of past events, but it contained echoes from the past that helped shape its success.

For more great photos of the 2013 Fun Run check out the Digital Sentinel’s Flickr site.


Roll Up! Roll Up!

stall 2Memories were on special offer recently at the Beltane Summer Synergy Session.  Creating more interactive opportunities with history has been a key theme of the local digital and social media projects that have formed and interlinked as a partnership around the social history of Wester Hailes.  The Code Books, the Totem Pole, From There To Here’s blog and facebook page have all benefited from being interconnected through the partnership Our Place In Time.  The new Digital Sentinel will similarly gain from originating from this local partnership’s framework and experience as it develops.

Through Ladders To The Clouds, local organisations and residents worked with the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University to develop an interactive approach utilising in particular QR codes as a way of linking the past to the present through images that could be reached by scanning the QR codes.  The images are photos depicting life in Wester Hailes over the years, but they also represent memories and stories.  Some of the QR codes link to particular sites such as the From There To Here facebook page where people can add their own thoughts and memories about what they are seeing.  Over the last couple of years this has built up a complex and rich picture of Wester Hailes past and present that often challenges the negative portrayals and on-going stigma associated with the area.

The university partners were asked to share information about this approach this week at an event organised by the Beltane Public Engagement Network and they invited Our Place In Time to join them at the event and be part of the presentation.  With the theme of the session being a market place showcasing best practice, the group decided to offer an actual stall laden with memories to demonstrate how it all worked.  Visitors to the stall were asked to pick an apple and scan a code that linked them to an image taken from the Sentinel community newspaper archive.  So what was an apple became for example a bus! Other codes on the stall replicated the sites that are on the Totem Pole.

The stall generated a lot of interest from other projects wanting to know more about using social and digital media to generate engagement with the information they wanted to promote.  The event also gave the group a great opportunity to network with a diverse range of organisations and projects from across the city and to learn from other examples of good practice.


Howzat Scotland and Wimblebore!

Pat McHat

During football’s closed season, what do sports commentators find to talk about?  Nowadays there’s always a match showing somewhere across the vast satellite network and if you’re prepared to take an interest in the Under 21 Euros or the Under 19s Championship you can even follow a tournament.  Of course there is also the Women’s Euro 2013 in July in Sweden.

However a couple of decades ago with fewer channels, there really was a closed season, leading to some sports writers being short of material.  The Sentinel’s reporters  rose to the challenge most years, although they were able to reduce the number of football free topics by book ending the season with reflections on the past year for football, and then predictions on the season coming up.

Nevertheless, the holiday months were an opportunity for Pat McHat to consider more summery sports, in particular tennis and cricket, both of which at that time were perhaps not overly popular north of the border.

In July 1995, Pat writes to his doctor, concerned that he had developed an interest in cricket, leading to him checking the latest score when he thinks no-one is looking.  You can read his letter in full here.  Despite his cricket consternation, in 1999 he covers the Cricket World Cup, reminding readers that it used to be a popular sport in Scotland.

Tennis, or more specifically Wimbledon also comes to the rescue of the summer sports column.  However Pat is not overly impressed by the quality of tennis star on offer as the title of his July 1996 report, “It’s Wimblebore” hints.  Once upon a time, he says you were guaranteed a high quota of talent, tantrums and thrilling five-setters.  But he feels the game now lacks charisma and is more Yawn than Lawn tennis.

However, it remains difficult to resist the lure of football and the 1998 World Cup provides a great chance to reflect on the players’ highlights of the hair kind as Pat considers how much French hairdressers must have benefitted from an influx of international footballers as customers.

Wester Hailes had its own summer sport of course in the form of the Fun Run.  Back in the 1980s, they also organised a gruelling Triathlon with a 40km swim, 10k run and a 34km cycle..  60 people took part in the first one held in 1986 and you can read more about it here.  The 2013 Wester Hailes Fun Run/ Walk takes place on Sunday 16th June starting at 10.00am at Hailes Quarry Park.

fun run poster 2013 jpeg

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