From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

Across The Years


We’ve put together a timeline of key events and decisions that shaped how the area was built, developed and altered across the decades.  We want the time line to reflect different people’s reflections and memories so if you think we’ve missed important information out, get in touch and let us know.


  • Public inquiry into Edinburgh Council’s plans to re-zone 297 acres of agricultural land at Wester Hailes for building of new houses
  • The Wester Hailes Amenity Association formed by local residents to fight the proposal to re-zone the land


  • Miss Margaret Kidd QC, the public inquiry Reporter finds against Edinburgh Council’s proposals but is overruled by Willie Ross, the Secretary of State for Scotland, who gives his approval


  •  Sir Frank Mears & Partners appointed as architects to design Wester Hailes


  •  January – Work begins on the construction of Wester Hailes
  •  November – First houses completed (in Dumbryden)


  •  Construction of Dumbryden area completed


  •  First houses occupied in Murrayburn and Hailesland.
  •  The Wester Hailes Association of Tenants (WHAT) formed. Membership fee 3/-, joint membership for couples 5/-. Issue 1 newsletter WHATS NEWS (price 3d):

 “A primary school, a shop and lots of houses that about sums up Wester Hailes. We need a secondary school quickly, we need a community centre, nursery or pre-school facilities for the very young children & their mothers, a club of some kind for our teenagers, more shops, a post office, letter boxes & you name it we have not got it!”


  • February – Talks begin between Edinburgh Council and British Rail regarding the provision of a railway “halt” at Wester Hailes


  •  Holy Trinity Church constructed
  •  September – Director of Housing reports that half of the proposed 4,800 homes in Wester Hailes have been completed.


  •  1973-4: WHAT campaigns on a wide variety of issues.


  •  1974-5: Local Government Reorganisation. May 7th: first district and regional council elections.
  •  September – Social Work Department’s Special Projects Team produces report identifying Wester Hailes as an area of social deprivation where nearly 9 out of 10 children come from families living “at poverty level”
  •  October – Wester Hailes Shopping Centre opened (October).
  •  WHAT News reports:

“After asking for it for the last 3 years a rent office is now being built between Hailesland Road and Hailesland Gardens. It should save some people a long walk up to Sighthill.”

  •  Wester Hailes Park and Drive Tenants Association, Dumbryden Action Group, Clovenstone Association of Tenants, and Westburn Action Group “all in existence”.
  •  For Information and Social Help (FISH) set up


  •  “Most” of the housing completed.
  •  Murrayburn Tenants Association and Hailesland Association of Tenants formally constituted
  •  May – Go ahead for construction of the Wester Hailes Education Centre given by central government.
  •  Social and Community Development Programme (SCDP) [“affectionately known as Scooby-Do”] launched
  •  SCDP Wester Hailes Local Advisory Committee set up. 


  •  January – New post office opened in Wester Hailes – first to be built in the city for 30 years
  • Wester Hailes: A Perspective of Community Needs – report produced by the Community Research Section of Edinburgh District Council Planning Department
  •  May – Edinburgh’s first after school playgroup opened in Wester Hailes fun by FISH’s Good Neighbours Scheme


  • April – Wester Hailes Speaks for Itself– report produced by local tenants associations, neighbourhood groups & FISH covering housing, education, health and social & community needs – 75 recommendations for improvements

    photo by Kevin Walsh 1992

  •  The Sentinel community newspaper started.
  •  Plans made to build the Community Workshop
  •  The Adventure Playground (The Venchie) “slowly being developed by the tenants of Murrayburn”
  •  Wester Hailes Allotments Association started
  •   February – Only doctors’ surgery in Wester Hailes closed
  • First Wester Hailes Gala Day
  •  The Community Workshop including Cafe Venchie opened
  •  26th June – Job Centre opened in the shopping centre
  •  21st August – Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) opened
  •  Hailes Action on Local Transport (HALT) formed “to lobby for an improved transport service for Wester Hailes”
  • November – Lease of 5 acres of land granted to Wester Hailes Allotments by Edinburgh District Council
  •  December – Campaign to Re-Align the Bypass (CRAB) launched
  •   Wester Hailes Development Advisory Committee (WHDAC) set up – evolving out of Scooby-Doo
  •  1st April – “Community Action – What Is it?” – conference convened by WHDAC in the WHEC
  •  Wester Hailes Community Shop opened (in the Community Workshop @ Hailesland Place)
  •  Community Health Action Group (CHAG) formed “to campaign for better health facilities in Wester Hailes, primarily the building of a new health centre”
  • Venchie physical structure completed


  •  Social and Community Development Programme (SCDP) replaced by the Urban Regeneration Programme (URP)
  •  Wester Hailes Urban Regeneration Programme Advisory Committee (WHURPAC) set up – “had much the same function as its predecessor WHDAC”
  •  Calders “decided to join WHURPAC”
  •  Westburn Community Hut erected
  •  Approval given to build Health Centre
  •  Grant obtained for 4 playworkers + supervisor at Venchie
  •  Group formed to promote Hailes Park Adventure Playground (“Quarry Venchie”) by people from Hailesland, Dumbryden, Kingsknowe and Longstone
  •  Calders Playground completed
  • Wester Hailes Festival Association established


  • Buildings survey [Title?] – report by Mac-Data unit of Paisley College commissioned by Edinburgh District Council
  •  Wester Hailes Community Enterprises (WHCE) established
  •  Wester Hailes Representative Council (WHRC) formed (December)
  •  Playground built at Clovenstone

    photo by Kevin Walsh 1985

  •  Quarry Venchie completed
  •  Wester Hailes Play Forum “formed to manage all four adventure playgrounds and to coordinate their activities and ideas” – the Venchie, the Quarry Venchie, Calders and Clovenstone (April)
  •  Wester Hailes Flats project (WHF) for homeless young people in Wester Hailes launched
  •  Training for Freedom – Jimmy Boyle’s first training placement was in Wester Hailes.
  •  “Bits and Pieces” theatrical group put on musical called “Promises, Promises” at Edinburgh Fringe


  •  Wester Hailes: A Social Study of Community Development – report by Napier College commissioned by the Department of Policy Planning, Lothian Region.
  •  Mental Health and the Community – report by Dr Sarah Boyle
  •  Acorn Club opened (7th June) 
  •  Wester Hailes Citizens Advice Bureau opened
  •  WHF “temporarily collapsed”.
  •  Bits and Pieces put on “Not so Quiet on the Western Front” at the Fringe


  •  Wester Hailes Ten Years On – report produced by WHRC.
  •  Wester Hailes Health Centre opened
  •  WHF relaunched


  •  A Sense Of History – a book on local history by Diana Sinclair is published
  •  Club 85 (community social club) opens


  • Wester Hailes Employment Initiative (WHEI) launched (November) comprising:
  • Wester Hailes Enterprises Ltd
  • Wester Hailes Opportunities Trust (WHOT) – January 1987
  • Wester Hailes Land & Property Trust (WHLPT) – November 1987
  • Wester Hailes Environmental Group- April 1988
  • The work of these four bodies being coordinated by umbrella organisation The Wester Hailes Initiative Coordinating Committee (WHICC).
  •  Wester Hailes the front story on TV national news re Edinburgh being the HIV capital of the western world. Pictures of young people using vacant flats as shooting galleries


  • WHF First Report produced
  • WHOT SHOP opened (October)

    photo by Kevin Walsh 1992

  • WHRC Neighbourhood Strategy initiated -> development of the Neighbourhood Councils [or 1988?]


  • New Life for Urban Scotland – foreward by Sir Malcolm Rifkind
  • Wester Hailes Community Housing Association (WHCHA) set up
  • Wester Hailes Local Profile and Context Statement – Lothian Regional Council Department of Planning (November)
  • Changes & Choices in Housing in Wester Hailes – What do You Think? – consultation booklet produced by the Housing Strategy Group of WHRC


  • Wester Hailes Partnership (WHP) set up (May)
  • Pitlochry Affirmation – the community agreed the terms on which it would enter the Partnership
  • Local Edinburgh District Council housing office opened
  • Wester Hailes Partnership Household Survey
  • Community Housing Strategy – produced by the Housing Strategy Group of WHRP. Purpose: “…to produce a written housing strategy which would be the community view of how housing change should happen in Wester Hailes during the Partnership initiative and what kind of changes should take place.”
  • Children in Wester Hailes produced (December) by MC Economics Ltd


  •  Community Housing Information Project (CHIP) set up (April)
  •  Community Relations Forum comprising “representatives of the Chinese, Asian and white communities” set up by WHRC 

    photo by Kevin Walsh 1992


  •  Moving Forward – a Social Policy for Wester Hailes – produced (November) by WHRC


  •  2nd-7th September – “On Show to Let you Know” – Wester Hailes Info Week


  •  Working Group established (January) “…with the express aim of achieving the redevelopment of the centre” comprising representatives of Edinburgh District Council, Lothian & Edinburgh Enterprises Ltd (LEEL), the Scottish Office, the local community and the Resource Team of the Wester Hailes Partnership
  •  Formation of the Big Rep Council – combining the WHRC, LCC and the Neighbourhood Strategy

    photo taken from WHCHA Newsletter May 1992

  •  First WHCHA housing project completed – 97 homes at Walkers estate on the site of three demolished tower blocks at Hailesland


  •  Film – “Out of the Blue” – about a family living in Wester Hailes is premiered


photo by Kevin Walsh 1994

  •  Second Wester Hailes Partnership Household Survey
  •  Community Housing Conference at Wiston Lodge (May) involving “representatives from all areas of Wester Hailes”
  •  High rise blocks at Westburn and Wester Hailes Park & Drive demolished


  •  Interim Evaluation of the Wester Hailes Partnership – report by McGregor, Kintrea, Fitzpatrick and Urquhart (The Scottish Office Central Research Unit).
  •  Community Housing Strategy updated by the Housing Strategy Working Group of WHRC & CHIP.
  •  Action 21 set up by WHP.
  •  Young Tenants Support Project set up by WHP.


  •  Local government reorganisation – City of Edinburgh Council unitary authority established. 
  •  Neighbourhood Signage Project (WHP).
  •  Wester Hailes Partnership Development Profile (July).


  • Cyber Café launched by the Young Tenants Support Project (UK’s first internet café in a peripheral estate).

    photo by Kevin Walsh

  •  October – Wester Hailes Youth Union launched
  •  The CUR Report


  •  September – “Maintaining the Momentum – the Partnership Strategy for the Millenium
  •  Collapse of Westside Training Agency



  • First annual Altogether In The Park Festival for local children and their families (July?)?
  • Footbridge spanning Hailesland Road demolished to make way for canal (July)
  • New WHALE Learning Centre opened in Westburn Grove (November)
  • Greenway Civic & Leisure Centre goes into liquidation (December)


  • Wester Hailes Community Housing Association changes its name to Prospect Community Housing
  • Community Banking Agreement signed – partnership between Bank of Scotland and the Rep Council to tackle financial exclusion (March)
  • LIDL replaces Safeway in Westside Plaza (April?)
  • Cyberbytes (internet cafe) demolished (April)
  • CCTV network along the Greenway switched on (May)
  • Official uniform for pupils at WHEC launched (August)
  • Wester Hailes section of Millenium Link canal project opened (September)
  • Hailes Park Industrial Estate completed (October)


  • CCTV network along Wester Hailes section of canal switched on (March)
  • First issue of West Edinburgh Times – incorporating the Sentinel, Broomhouse Grapevine & Longstone Newsletter (April)


  • Greenway Centre saved when the Wester Hailes Land & Property Trust takes over the building (September)


  • Reunion community canal barge launched (April)


  • Council tenants in Edinburgh vote NO to transfer of council homes to City of Edinburgh Housing Association (December)


  • Westburn Community Woodland opened (May)
  • West Edinburgh Local Community Plan initiated (September)


  • Rep Council celebrates its 25th anniversary (February)
  • New bus & taxi interchange outside Westside Plaza (May)


  • Last issue of West Edinburgh Times – forced to close after withdrawal of revenue funding by Edinburgh City Council (March)
  • TESCO closes its store in Wester Hailes (June)


  • Westburn Primary School closed by Edinburgh City Council (July)
  • Wester Hailes Community Council established (December?) ?


  • Rep Council officially dissolved (June)

2 thoughts on “Across The Years

  1. hello there folks i remember the old rep council well as i served on the board of directors for a few years and i was also involved with the steering group responsible for digging out the firtst phase of the canal through westerhailes and am still very active withuin my neifghbourhood council which is westburn villiage

  2. i love all the old pictures of westerhailes including the construction of the union canal and pictures of the old westburn high flats where i once lived and also the old rep councoil sunday meetings please keep me updated

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