From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

Cyberbytes 1997-2001


photo by Kevin Walsh 2001

This dramatic image is the demolition of the Cyberbytes Cafe, the first internet cafe to be built on a council estate.  In 1995 the Young Tenants Support Project was set up by the Wester Hailes Partnership (WHP). This was established to help young people uphold their tenancies at Wester Hailes.  The internet cafe was one of the projects that was initiated by this organisation.   

The cafe was funded through a variety of sources including the Wester Hailes Partnership, the European Commission and BT.  It opened in April 1997 offering internet access at 50p for 30 minutes.  The cafe had 7 terminals, all with internet access.  To see the advert for the cafe please click here.   

The cafe offered other activities alongside the computers.  As well as cheap meals, budget cookery courses were run.  And free legal advice was also provided.  The cafe’s design won awards and it w as a popular venue.   

Photo by Kevin Walsh

However, it was built on land that lay across the path of the canal.  Permission to build was given on the understanding that the cafe would have to be demolished if the canal was ever re-opened.  With the Millennium Link project receiving the go ahead, the cafe had to be cleared out of the way and was duly demolished in 2001.   

Of course, the canal is a great resource for the area and is a unique feature of Wester Hailes.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring posts with a focus on the canal as there are plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its re-opening.  The Wester Hailes section wasn’t re-opened until 2001 but that doesn’t mean we can’t join in this round of celebrations!


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