From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


This was the headline in the Sentinel announcing the official opening of the Walkers estate in September 1992. It was the first development completed by Wester Hailes Community Housing Association – Prospect’s original name – and comprised 97 homes built on land at Hailesland formerly occupied by three high-rise blocks.

The guest of honour at the opening was local MP Malcolm Rifkind and the photograph below shows him in the living room of one of the new tenant’s homes together with (left to right along the middle row) local Councillor Willie Dunn, Wester Hailes Community Housing Association Chairperson Sheila Bunt and Scottish Homes Chief Executive Peter McKinlay.

Residents started moving into the completed houses twenty years ago almost to this very day. Marie Toolis who was the Housing Officer responsible for the allocation of tenancies recalls the tremendous atmosphere at the time:

Everyone was very excited. We felt like pioneers. It was the first housing in Wester Hailes where people were provided with their own back and front gardens.

She also remembers that because Walkers was so different from the rest of Wester Hailes, the estate was known locally in those days as “Brookside” after Channel Four’s popular soap.

The Sentinel recorded the delight of some of those who had been lucky enough to get one of the new homes, people like Amanda Lynch…

Also, Robert Lunn who moved into specially designed accommodation to help with his mobility problems – “as soon as I saw the house I knew it was for us“…and 62 year old Harold Brown who said his new home was “absolutely fantastic, well built and well designed“.

Wester Hailes Community Housing Association was established in 1988 thanks to the efforts of a small group of local residents. In the space of four years it secured funding approval from the government for a major development programme in the area, recruited its first members of staff, acquired the land at Hailesland from the City Council and designed and constructed the Walkers estate.

Pictured above, Ted Over, Treasurer of the Housing Association, speaks to the Clerk of Works about progress on-site during the building of the Walkers housing.



Sheila Bunt was Wester Hailes Community Housing Association’s first Chairperson and is still, today, a very active committee member of Prospect. In conjunction with the official opening of Walkers she was interviewed by the Sentinel for its regular “First Person” Q&A feature. 

As the Sentinel noted, Sheila was already well known to more than a few Wester Haileans through her job behind the bar at Club 85. In the Q&A article, reproduced below, she lifted the lid on her worst habit, favourite book and favourite food and drink. As well as that, she shared her forthright views on men and officialdom and revealed a propensity to collapse in a heap.