Bid to celebrate tower blocks for archive

Three tower blocks in Sighthill were demolished in 2011.

Three tower blocks in Sighthill were demolished in 2011.

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A TEAM of Edinburgh academics have launched a new project to celebrate the beleaguered tower blocks that transformed the skylines of post-war Britain.

Historians at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) are creating a picture archive of every high-rise flat erected in the UK after 1945 – including a number of now-demolished blocks in the Capital.

Demolition of Niddrie Marischal in 1992.

Demolition of Niddrie Marischal in 1992.

Tower Blocks – Our Blocks!, a three-year project funded by a £52,900 Lottery grant, will produce an online catalogue of 3500 images taken in the 1980s.

Edinburgh high-rises featuring on the site will include Niddrie Marischal, Wester Hailes Contract 4 and Leith Kirkgate, as well as Leith Fort, which was demolished in 1994.

Professor Miles Glendinning, head of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies at ECA, said: “We hope this project will help contribute to the ongoing shift in public attitudes towards the post-war Modernist housing heritage, which is fast turning from an object of dislike and alienation into a force for potential community empowerment.

“Council tower blocks were once the most prominent and dramatic legacy of the post-1945 reconstruction drive, but mass demolitions over the past 35 years, still continuing today, have depleted this vast heritage, leaving it obscured or incomprehensible to the public at a time when popular interest in post-war Modernist heritage is sharply increasing.” 
Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Without archives, vast segments of our nation’s history would be missing.”

Leith Fort towers demolished 1994 seen in 1985

Leith Fort towers demolished 1994 seen in 1985

Edinburgh University is compiling a record of the disappearing tower blocks in Scotland.''Wester Hailes Contract 4 ' partly demolished. Pictured in 1985

Edinburgh University is compiling a record of the disappearing tower blocks in Scotland.''Wester Hailes Contract 4 ' partly demolished. Pictured in 1985