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
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.
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.