From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


Here’s the second of our question and answer interviews in which we ask people about their experience of living and working in Wester Hailes. Today’s interviewee is Lisa McDonald whose family moved to the area in 1974. Lisa’s provided us with so much interesting stuff that we’ll be running her interview in instalments over the next three weeks!

Were you born in Wester Hailes?

No, I started life in Dalry, Edinburgh.

When did you move to Wester Hailes and why?

My family moved to Dumbryden Gardens when I was one year old.

What were your family’s expectations when you moved to Wester Hailes?

My parents needed more space for my sister and I and they wanted to be nearer my Dad’s work at Sighthill Fire Station.

To what extent were these expectations realised?

We loved having all the space of a bigger house and we didn’t have a bath in the old house so a proper bathroom seemed very posh!

What are your best memories of Wester Hailes?

The amount of different things there were to do for kids. there were so many community things to get involved in, especially when it came to gala days. I was a flower girl for the Dumbryden gala day when I was 6 and just after that I was a member of Haggis the Clown’s Children’s Circus where I learned to stilt walk and juggle and where we took part in the Wester Hailes gala day. Although I wasn’t in the group for long I remember it well and can still juggle now (though I’m not sure how my stilt walking would be nowadays!).

I then moved on to ballet classes at WHEC with Joyce Patterson’s Dance School but that wasn’t for me either, so after that I joined Dumbryden Royals majorettes. In the 1980s majorettes were quite a big thing in Wester Hailes and there were several troupes – Clovenstone were the most successful and we always tried to outdo them at competitions but there were also the Hailesland Super Troupers and the Calder Merribelles along with our Dumbryden Royals. I loved majorettes and my mum was heavily involved too, helping to stitch the uniforms for the troupe and coming along to competitions with us. I was the troupe mascot along with our stuffed toy mascot “Royal Rabbit” and the troupe took part in lots of gala days in Dumbryden, Wester Hailes and in other miners gala days around East and Mid- Lothian. We never did quite reach the success that Clovenstone majorettes did, but we had fun trying!

Lisa & Royal Rabbit

As a teenager I used to spend a lot of time in Dumbryden Community Centre where we’d play pool and help out with the summer playschemes. We also did some good things for charity like a 24 hour stayawake for Famine Relief. I’ve a lot of good memories of the years spent there – the youth workers who helped run the centre did a brilliant job and we were never bored or stuck for somewhere to go. I was also part of the “It’s A Knockout” team the year Dumbryden won which I think was around 1987 and I even helped edit an edition of the Sentinel with some of my classmates when I was at WHEC – I had the honour of reporting on Scott and Charlene’s wedding in Neighbours! – Being able to get involved with so many varied things like that were what made growing up in Wester Hailes so good.

And your worst memory?

I can honestly say I have no bad memories of growing up in Wester Hailes.

The Huts Online

photo from Sentinel October 1984

Many people still remember the early Channel 4 film The Huts that was made about Wester Hailes in 1984.  The film focused on the efforts of local residents working together to improve life locally through the building and development of the huts as community facilities.  It showed how the  huts impacted on the lives of local individuals and groups, creating change and improving the life of the wider community.We posted an article about the film in February 2011.

Skyline Productions have now kindly agreed for excerpts of the film to be made available online thanks to the efforts of Wayne Cuthbert who contacted the company. We’ve uploaded the excerpts to our Facebook page From There To Here: A Wester Hailes Story.