Families asked to create wall of fame for Little Marcos

Children have fun at Little Marcos. Picture: contributed
Children have fun at Little Marcos. Picture: contributed
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FEW children growing up in Edinburgh in the 1980s would not have been familiar with Little Marcos.

Opened in 1980 as Scotland’s first indoor soft play area, it was a cool place for kids and a favourite venue for birthday parties.

Before shutting in 2008, it welcomed one million children through its Grove Street doors.

Now, the Demarco family, who owned Little Marcos and Marcos Leisure Centre – both Edinburgh institutions – has launched a campaign asking people to share their photos and memories.

And with the Little Marcos generation now around 30 years old, Paul Demarco, owner of Marcos Pool Hall, which now sits on the site, is inviting the birthday boys and girls back to where they celebrated all those years ago.

Paul said: “There won’t be a lot of kids from around these parts who don’t remember Little Marcos.

“I was a kid when it was in its heyday and, unsurprisingly, all my friends celebrated their birthdays there.

“Even though much of the original building has now gone, we’ve held on to a lot of the original features from Little Marcos and Marcos Leisure Centre – we even still have the Marco Bear height measure.”

Social media exchanges between former devotees of Little Marcos recall “massive slides”, the “ball pit” and “ride-around bikes”.

For the older generation, in the 1980s Marcos Leisure Centre was a hub for all the new fitness crazes in Scotland, such as squash and step aerobics. In its heyday there were 65 snooker tables.

And it also served as a venue for many popular Fringe shows.

Everyone with memories of the place is being invited to contribute photos and recollections.

Paul said: “We don’t want to limit this campaign to just Little Marcos.

“If anyone has any photos of them at the leisure centre we would love to see them, too, even if it does mean the world gets to see you in lycra – it was fashionable at the time.”

Marcos Leisure Centre was first opened in the 1970s by Paul’s father, Bert, and uncle Ramon.

It was an 80,000sq ft plot over three floors and as well as soft play, there was squash, snooker and pool.

Paul said: “We want people to share their photos or videos with us on social media for the ultimate, if not cringey, throwback celebration.

“We will post the best ones up on our ‘Wall of Fame’ at Marcos Pool Hall and invite the people who submitted them for a free game of pool and a trip down memory lane.”

The Demarco family has since sold sections of the property, keeping the ground floor and creating a new basement.

The venue was launched in its latest guise as the new Marcos Pool Hall and Pizza Bar, in November 2014.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com