From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

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Last month we reported that Wester Hailes Community Council had taken the lead in re-opening negotiations with AWG, the owners of Westside Plaza, to make more space available to improve the proposed pedestrian link between the new Healthy Living Centre and the Plaza. Now it looks like this has paid off big time.

The Community Council had written to AWG to raise the issue and ask the company to consider allowing more of the Plaza car park to be set aside in order to accommodate an extended link which would be safer and more user friendly for those accessing the Healthy Living Centre on foot from the main shopping area. There was a quick and positive response from AWG and a meeting was held between representatives of the company and the Community Council to take the matter forward. As a result of this, we understand, AWG are now prepared to grant permission for a larger area of the car park to be utilised although the exact details are still to be worked out.

Not only that, as a direct result of a public meeting requested by the Community Council, it also looks like the extra funding needed to construct this extension could be about to be put in place by the City Council. Responding to a request from the Community Council, a joint meeting of the two local Neighbourhood Partnerships was held recently and it was clear from the debate which took place that people felt the existing plan was inadequate to meet the needs of the community. The City Council has taken the strength of local feeling on board and the matter will be discussed by its Finance and Resources Committee on July 31st with a view to agreeing how this additional work can be financed.

Hopefully the next time we report on this it will be to say that the extended and the improved link is definitely going ahead. But, whatever the outcome, the Community Council has demonstrated over the last couple of months just how influential a committed local group can be when it comes to having a positive impact on big issues affecting the community.



Back in 1996 the Olympics were held in Barcelona. In the run up to those Games, Stewart McRobert, the Sentinel’s sports reporter at the time, wrote a piece giving his trenchant views on what the Olympics were all about. Characterising it as “that modern substitute for international warfare”, he highlighted money as the key difference between the 1990s and earlier days. In particular, the big money to be made by the top competitors – that, and “the chance to be a team captain on A Question of Sport”.

For Stewart, lots of money and enormous egos seemed to go together: “it’s the ones who probably make the most money that get all petulant and po-faced”. He went on:

“For example, the two British athletes likely to be the biggest money spinners at the moment are Linford Christie and Liz McColgan. And yet they are also two people who you are likely to see on TV telling the world how wonderful they are and dismissing in a completely serious way the chances of anyone else beating them to a gold medal”.

Yup, Stewart was not at all enamoured by the egos then on display. The thing to do, he counselled, was to forget that side of things, try to avoid the hype generated by the Games and concentrate on just watching and enjoying the events themselves. 

Will London 2012 be any different? It certainly feels like far and away the most hyped Games ever. It’ll be interesting to see how the current crop of superstars in their pre- and post competition interviews compare in the humility stakes – and who ends up on A Question of Sport.

P.S. Did you know that… in the early 1900s one of the “events” you could compete in and win a gold medal was Town Planning?

Off The Wall update

Scan this code to go to the Prospect Office Story

Got to grips with QR codes yet?  They’re appearing everywhere: adverts, products, leaflets, billboards.  They’re going to become a highly visible feature in Wester Hailes over the next few months.  They’re a great way of quickly sharing images, memories and other information from a single scan.  So they make showing images from the past extremely easy and relatively quick.  Several projects developing in Wester Hailes are making good use of these digital shorthand codes to share social history and to capture other people’s memories and pictures.  Wester Hailes Health Agency has just produced a great book of social history walks around the local area using QR codes, conceived and written by local resident Eoghan Howard.  We’ll be bringing you more information on this in a future post.  And WHALE Arts Agency has created an innovative totem pole with built in QR codes that will share and collect a wide range of information, news and views.  Its almost ready to be installed and will be a great addition to the area.

 We recently highlighted a project Off The Wall that we’ve been working on with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland who’ve got a huge database of historical Scottish photos, including images and information about Wester Hailes.  Off The Wall will work through QR codes placed on buildings around the area.  These codes will link to photo albums on our Facebook page with a set of images for each neighbourhood of Wester Hailes.  People will then be able to scan the QR code and compare the past to the present from where they’re standing.  They’ll also be able to link up to the RCAHMS site to see more images.  We’ve put the first album on Facebook today, showing past and present photos of Westburn.  Once all the albums have been set up, we’ll be able to link them to QR code plaques. 

As a starting point, the albums will just have photos.  But we want to add sound as well as a way of sharing people’s stories about the area.  People can also add their stories through commenting on the album and on individual stories to build up the story of the area.  And we hope people will also send their own photos in of the area, showing the landscape but also the events, meetings, activity etc that show all that was happening over the years beyond the fabric of the buildings. 

So check out the first album on Facebook and keep an eye out for QR codes appearing on a building near you!

Pages From The Past

Today we’re back in 1992, 20 years ago this week.  The main story is the improvement work starting on Wester Hailes Drive.  Other stories include

  • The launch event for WHALE
  • A protest about changes being made around Wester Hailes Park
  • An exclusive interview with Gerard Kelly
  • News from around the neighbourhoods including the Woods Gala Day
  • Some strong views about the forthcoming Olympics in Barcelona, and the effects of money and fame on the games!

You’ll find all these stories and more here Sentinel July 1992.


In carrying out some background research connected with last week’s post about the 1997 Community Map, we uncovered a bit of a puzzle. An article in the March 1998 issue of the Sentinel announced the sale of the last house in “Gillespie Gardens”. The scheme was described as being located in Clovenstone, constructed by Miller Homes and “the first new homes-for-sale development to be built in the area with grant aid from Scottish Homes“.

But the only housing which could possibly fit this description is at Alcorn Square and the photograph below which accompanied the 1998 article confirms this. So, where did the moniker “Gillespie Gardens” come from? Nobody we’ve spoken to locally can recall it. Maybe it was the original advertising name under which the developer marketed the new housing. However, in that case, it seems curious that Alcorn Square and not Gillespie Gardens  is the name given in the 1997 Map six months before the last house was actually sold.

Anyone out there able to shed  any light on this? One of the original residents of Alcorn Square perhaps?


Wester Hailes Voice

We’re trying out a bit of sound today as another way for people to share their memories.  We were fortunate enough to have been given permission to use two extracts from an interview conducted with Jean Munro who has lived in Clovenstone since the early days of Wester Hailes. 

In the first extract Jean is talking about the campaign carried out by local parents when it became apparent that Clovenstone School was too small for the number of pupils in its catchment area.  The proposal was to bus children to other schools.  Just click on the orange arrow to hear what happened.






The second extract recalls Jean’s involvement with the Clovenstone majorettes and the first playscheme that she helped organise in the area. 


You can read more about the Clovenstone majorettes in these two stories from 1981:  July and September.

We’re hoping to bring more audio memories to the blog and our Facebook page at a future date. And with a little more technical know-how, we think we’ll be able to collect audio files directly through the blog so that a range of memories will be shared.


Here’s the last of the series of Community Maps produced by Wester Hailes Rep Council. This one was drawn up in the Autumn of 1997 and, unlike the incremental changes that occured during the nine years between the 1983 and 1992 versions, the differences a further five years on are quite dramatic. As with the other maps, if you click on it you’ll be able to to zoom in and see any bit you wish in more detail.

Essentially it’s a story of large scale demolitions and, in some cases, redevelopment. Starting at the top, the blocks of Council housing at 20-31 Clovenstone Park are labelled as due for demolition that year (we think this actually took place in 1998). Other Council blocks at 1-18 Clovenstone Drive have already been demolished and replaced by a new housing development – Alcorn Square. This was the result of a partnership between Miller Homes, the City Council and Scottish Homes to build the first new-homes-for-sale scheme in the area.

Moving down towards the shopping centre, a number of the Wester Hailes Drive Council blocks have gone and been replaced by low rise housing built by Prospect in the re-named Dumbeg Park. Just below that, all the multis at Wester Hailes Park and Wester Hailes Drive have also disappeared and the two sites are earmarked for “Proposed Commercial/Leisure Development”.

Finally, on the other side of the railway, the Westburn Gardens multis have been pulled down, and in their place Prospect’s new Westburn and Morvenside developments have been constructed, extending beyond the old multis site and into a large greenfield area down as far as the Canal.

Other changes to note are the re-naming of the shopping centre – now Westside Plaza – and, adjacent to it, the new multiplex cinema.