From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

Wester Hailes Youth Programme

photo from Sentinel 1989

We recently featured the launch of the Youth Programme which grew to oversee and co-ordinate a wide range of youth projects under one umbrella organisation across Wester Hailes.  The Youth Programme was an independent voluntary organisation and was accountable to Wester Hailes through its committee and general meetings.  Annual Reports were included in the Sentinel and provided a range of information about the organisation’s progress but also a snapshot of the issues, concerns and achievements of local young people. 

In 1989, the breadth of the work taking place is evident from after school clubs and playschemes to counselling and action on drugs with young people.  The report also features “Seen and Not Heard”, a consultation carried out amongst young people examining why they were not engaging in decision making structures and events.  You can see the annual report by clicking here on 1989 Youth Programme.

In 1990, the front page of the report focused on the go ahead for the Pyramid Centre, a purpose built centre to replace the temporary classroom unit the Youth Programme had been using.  An exchange visit to Kiev in what was then the USSR was also featured with reports about the experiences of Wester Hailes young people but also what visiting Wester Hailes was like for young people from Kiev.  You can read about this visit and about other projects during that year by clicking here on Youth Programme 1990.

The Youth Programme ran for 17 years and right up to the end were delivering a diverse range of activities and services.  However, changes and reductions to funding across community projects in Wester Hailes meant that a number of youth projects amalgamated and the Youth Programme became part of the new Youth Agency.  Their last annual report was included in the Sentinel and you can read it by clicking here on Youth Programme 1997

Funding remains an issue for youth work both here in Wester Hailes and in other areas of the country.  What should be seen as a vital investment is too often regarded as a luxury to be cut when budgets have to be tightened.  These cuts may be a short term saving but they create a long term loss with lasting effects for society.



We said last week that we’d be running a series featuring local writing and so, to start, here’s a couple of poems that were published in the Sentinel in 1988.

The first is by Kirsti Turrell from Clovenstone Gardens who was all of eight years old when she wrote it. The poem was sent in by her teacher at Clovenstone Primary School who thought it showed real talent. The editor of the Sentinel agreed and so do we.

What is red?
A pillar box is red
With a hat upon its head.
What is grey?
The sky is grey
On a wet and windy day.
What is green?
Leaves are green
Some are hiding and can’t be seen.
What is pink?
A flower is pink
When in its some water it never will sink.
What is black?
Santa’s sack is black
As he goes down the chimney and falls on his back.
What is yellow?
The sun is yellow
As it shines upon a fellow.
What is white?
The snow is white
As it falls so cold and bright.
What is blue?
Bluebells are blue
As they stand in the morning dew.
What is brown?
Tree trunks are brown
As they stand in a city or town.


The second is a little ode to the Sentinel itself which, in a few lines, neatly encapsulates the sort of role a community newspaper can play in the lives of local people.

The Wester Hailes Sentinel I hear you say,
Pops through your letter box to brighten your day.
Full of pictures, advertisements as well,
Open it wide, head in and tell.
When word gets around and ears are flapping
You can be sure your neighbours are gabbing.
So carry the Sentinel, if you’re in doubt
And you can be sure there is something to shout.

Wester Hailes Women Kept On Winning!

With the Scottish Cup being decided this Saturday and the ongoing sagas of the football world rolling on, it’s worth reflecting on the winning achievements of women’s football today and in years gone by.  The Scottish Women’s National team is currently ranked 23rd in the world in international women’s football. (Just for comparison, the Scottish Men’s National team is currently lying at 66th in the world rankings.) 

 Women’s football has faced a number of hurdles over the years.  In the early 1920s in the UK, its matches were attracting over 50,000 spectators.  However these achievements were squashed by England’s Football Association who banned the game from grounds used by its member clubs.  Incredibly, this ban was not lifted until 1971.  It still faces a struggle to be taken seriously in the UK amongst some quarters, despite the growing success of teams here.  Of course, elsewhere in the world, women’s football receives plenty of respect and its media coverage is on a par with men’s football.  In the USA, the Women’s Professional Soccer League was formed in 2009.  The UEFA Women’s Champion’s League was set up in 2000 and last year attracted 53 contending teams from across Europe.  In England, where this Saturday the Women’s FA cup final will be played, a semi professional league is being established, the Women’s Super League who will play a series of matches over the summer.  The games will be shown on ESPN.  

Girls playing football today still face discrimination as a recent story in the Edinburgh Evening News shows.  Alyshia Walker is her team’s captain and top scorer whose Under Thirteen team Fauldhouse Foxes recently won the final of the Scottish Cup.  This means they qualify for the national competition being run in England, but under English FA rules, girls can no longer play in a boy’s team if they are over 11 so Alyshia won’t be playing. 

 Wester Hailes produced some high flying women’s teams, most notably Hailes United Ladies FC who won a cabinet of trophies across Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, including the Italy Cup three times in five years.  You can read about their achievement in 1995 by clicking here on Sentinel August 1995.  The team had become Tynecastle Women’s team by then but they played with the same skill and heart to win at the Bentigodi Stadium, Verona.  From There…To Here featured the Hailes United Ladies FC in posts last year.  You can see these posts by clicking here on Magnificent United and The Day Wester Hailes Won The Cup!

Girls’ football was also popular in Wester Hailes with girls teams being established acrosss the area.  In 1995, the Sentinel reported on the newly formed Clovenstone Girls.  You can read more about the team by clicking here on Sentinel July 1995.  The team went on to win their first trophy at the Meadows School Festival, beating a boys’ team in the final. 

The Woods Youth Centre also formed a girls’ team who were featured in the Sentinel in November 1995.  The Woods Youth Centre five-a- side team were the first team from Wester Hailes to win the Edinburgh Region for the Scottish National finals of the Reebok Fives.  You can read about their achievement by clicking here on Sentinel July 1996

We’ll leave the last word to Alan Wood who wrote an article for the Sentinel in July 1995, highlighting the growing success of women’s football and the career path it potentially offered those at the top of their game. 


Wester Hailes has been the seedbed for an impressive flourishing of vibrant, heartfelt, humorous, angry and poignant creative writing. Here’s just a snatch of what’s been published over the years which we’ve discovered in the Sentinel archive:

“Milking The Moon” – 49 pages of poetry from 9 different contributors – published ?

“tangents 3”– Produced by the Platform Adult Learning Centre – 39 pages of poems and stories, 15 contributors, third in a series – published 1995


 “Wester Hailes Folk” – Poems, stories and photographs – 36 pages, 21 contributors – published ?

On top of this we’ve come across numerous individual pieces in the Sentinel which also ran competitions for poetry, folk songs and stories.

We think these artistic endeavours don’t deserve to be forgotten and lost so we intend, over the coming weeks, to give you more of a flavour of what Wester Hailes People wrote about in times gone by – the thoughts, experiences and emotions they wanted to express and share.

Play Is Fun!

Sentinel 1993

Following on from the post a couple of weeks ago about youth work in Wester Hailes, we’re taking a look this week at a project aimed at children. Every child has the right to play.  It’s written in to the United Nations Convention on the Rights Of The Childin Article 31.  Play is important for children, helping them to develop and interact with other people, but also to have fun.  This principle was at the heart of a project running in the 1990s in Wester Hailes. 

photo from Sentinel 1995

The Container Adventure Play project was set up by the Wester Hailes Youth Programme in 1993. It was funded by Urban Aid, a significant source of funding in Scotland at that time, targeted at the most disadvantaged urban areas.  CAP aimed to provide play equipment that could be taken to different locations across Wester Hailes. 

photo from Sentinel 1993

In their first year, CAP piloted a summer playscheme by Dumbryden at Hailes Quarry Park.  The Sentinel featured the scheme and the junk dinosaur that was built.  At 30 feet long and 8 feet high, it was made entirely from rubbish but looked pretty substantial! 

photo from Sentinel 1993

You can read all about this playscheme by clicking here on Sentinel September 1993.

  CAP was aimed at the 10-14 age group and provided a range of activities as well as the equipment that was stored in steel containers.  Children could also access trips and weekends away.  The project was hampered at first by a lack of premises.  However this resulted in the construction of the log cabin that was

photo from Sentinel 1994

used by a variety of groups over the years.  The log cabin gave the project the chance to run a winter programme.  You can read more about the cabin and CAP by clicking here on Sentinel CAP 1994.

 In 1994, the WHYP went through a restructuring period, refocusing on the core age group of 15-25.  This meant it had to make some major changes to the projects it ran, encouraging them to become independent organisations in their own right.  CAP became independent in April 1995, four months after moving into their new premises.  In 1995, the Sentinel featured the work of CAP and the importance of play.  You can read this article by clicking here on Sentinel CAP 1995. 


Here we are again at the climax of another football season – championships, relegations, cup finals all getting decided – blanket coverage in the media of every twist and turn and controversy.

 In 1986 the Sentinel published an interview with Archie MacPherson, veteran commentator and Scottish football legend, a man with a brushover hairstyle that almost rivalled Donald Trump for carefully coiffeured weirdness.


Scotland were preparing to play in the World Cup Finals (remember those days) and it was a season when, hard to believe, there was NO football on the television. Archie shares his views on the pros and cons of that, football finances and the interests of players and fans.

 He gives us his opinion about the 1985-6 vintage Hearts and Hibs: “It’s good to have TWO good teams in the city”, tips Celtic over Rangers in the league and can’t imagine Aberdeen “will lose all that many games”.

This was during the time when Archie was also Rector of Edinburgh University and he expresses some forthright views about access to higher education for all and government cuts which are just as relevant today as they were then.

 You can read the full interview by clicking here Sentinel February 1986.

Developing Hailes Quarry Park

In 1983 the Sentinel reported on the progress being made to develop the Hailes Quarry site into a park.  As far back as 1977, plans had been drawn

Sentinel April 1983

up to transform this area into a sports and recreation area but funding had remained a hurdle to any development.  The site had of course been a quarry in the eighteenth century, famously providing some of the stone that built the New Town.  After it fell into disuse as a quarry, it became a landfill site.  Local people formed the Hailes Park Action group to campaign for a proper park.  Part of the land became one of the Venchie Playground areas but the rest of the area remained empty.  However, gradually finance was pulled together, and development in the park started to take shape.  Trees were planted, paths dug out and benches placed around the site.  You can read about the plans and works by clicking here on Sentinel Hailes Quarry 1983.

Sentinel May 1985

However, the original vision for the park did not come to fruition.  Funding ran out as priorities were changed and crucially there was no funding to maintain what had been developed.  The future of the park was further affected by the appearance of huge craters in 1985, bringing recreation work to a standstill.  The holes were filled in but much of the hoped for improvements never materialised.  You can read the headline and report about the craters by clicking here on Sentinel Hailes Quarry 1985.

 But that did not stop efforts to bring the site up to a better standard.  In 2005, consultation with local residents was carried out to identify ways the park could be improved.  This led to a long term plan being implemented by the City Of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh and Lothian and Greenspace Trust who have led on the project since 2006.  There have been numerous environmental improvements as well as new paths, a bike track and a children’s Learning and Discovery Area in the centre of the park.  Regular bulb and flower planting sessions with local schools over the last few years has transformed the park’s appearance as has ongoing conservation work.  There is also a yearly programme of events and workshops aimed at encouraging people to use the park. 

 The park has therefore changed and evolved tremendously over the years, partly due to funding sources appearing and/ or disappearing but also due to the interest and enthusiasm of those living around it who have helped with the planning, development and ongoing maintenance of the site.  When it was first being developed in the 1970s, Councillor Petherick of the then Edinburgh District Council said of the newly improved park:

 “Although there will be an official opening, the park will never be regarded as finished, people will always have new ideas and put forward different things to do.”

 This has proved to be true as although the original plans were not completed, new ideas and suggestions have shaped the park to make it what it is today. 

 The Hailes Quarry Park Fun Day is this Saturday from 11.00AM to 3.00PM.  With the theme of “Naturally Active”, there will be all sorts of entertainment and activities for all the family including canoeing, cycling, canal boat rides, face painting, arts and crafts and plenty more.