From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


Following on from last week, here’s the second part of Lisa McDonald’s question and answer interview. Lisa moved to Wester Hailes in 1974  when she was one year old and went to school at Dumbryden Primary and then the Wester Hailes Education Centre.

Did you work in Wester Hailes? If so, what was your job and can you tell us a bit about it?

I worked in Greggs the Bakers in Wester Hailes Centre for five years while I was at school and college. It was a brilliant place to work, the girls I worked with in the shop were great and the customers were lovely (mostly!) too. It didn’t ever feel like hard work to have to go in there. My most embarassing moments there were the time I sold someone a fake Christmas cake on Christmas Eve not knowing it wasn’t real ( they never did complain!) and on my 18th Birthday the Centre security asked over the tannoy for all shopping centre customers to make their way to Greggs – little did I know it was so they could watch the stripping vicar kissogram my workmates had got for me!

In what ways do you think Wester Hailes has changed over the years?

I had a gap of around fifteen years where I didn’t go into Wester Hailes, so to me it feels like it’s changed massively. My primary school in Dumbryden has gone and Greggs has moved within the centre, but the biggest changes for me are the ones around Westside Plaza, especially with the canal being open. It’s great to see money being put into improving housing too.

If you live somewhere else now, how does it compare with living in Wester Hailes?

I still live in West Edinburgh now, so I’ve not ventured far and while it’s nice where I am now, there’s not the same community spirit that we had in Dumbryden.

Dumbryden Gala Day 1979 – Lisa is the wee flower girl

What was the best thing about living in Wester Hailes?

The people and the community spirit.

And the worst?

Other people’s perception of what Wester Hailes was like. Even now occasionally people will judge me or comment on me having been brought up in Wester Hailes, yet I’ve got nothing but good memories. Wester Hailes is like anywhere else, it has its good points and its bad points, but a place is only as good as the people who live there and the people I know from Wester Hailes are pretty good!

What one thing would do most to change Wester Hailes for the better?

Ensure that there are enough things for kids to do in the community so that they grow up to be proud of where they come from.

What are your hopes for Wester Hailes twenty years on from now?

That organisations like the Council, WHALE and Prospect Community Housing continue to invest in the area and the people to ensure that the community continues on. Also that the Facebook groups like “Dumbryden Primary School” and “From There To Here” continue to flourish – having an archive of the history of Wester Hailes is important and it’s all the better when the archive is being added to by the people who lived and continue to live in Wester Hailes.

Next week we’ll be featuring a page from the January 1989 issue of the Sentinel written and designed by fifteen year old Lisa and four of her classmates from WHEC. It’s all about  Australian soap Neighbours and the pop group Bros (any Matt & Luke fans still out there?).


More of the Huts Online

We’ve added a few more clips from The Huts onto our Facebook page this week.  There’s a clip about the Sentinel, some footage of the Wester Hailes deputation to request that the Urban Aid grant wouldn’t be cut, and a reflection on how people in Wester Hailes perceived themselves compared to the outside world’s sometimes more stereotyped perception. In this last clip Mary Quinn commented about how Wester Hailes was regarded by public service providers, whose attitude seemed to be saying

“’s almost as if anything we have in the back of the lorry is good enough for Wester Hailes and they will accept it because they’ve got nothing there..”