Nostalgia: New lease of life for historic landmarks

Staff run out of the Castle Mills factory at the end of their shift in November 1951. Picture: TSPL

Staff run out of the Castle Mills factory at the end of their shift in November 1951. Picture: TSPL

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The Capital is renowned for its culture and history, so news that two important landmarks are to receive substantial funding has been welcomed this week.

The City Observatory complex on Calton Hill and Castle Mills Works in Fountainbridge – the only remaining building of what was once Edinburgh’s thriving rubber mill industry – are both recipients of Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants scheme.

An open night at the observatory in 1963. Picture: TSPL

An open night at the observatory in 1963. Picture: TSPL

The former North British Rubber Factory in Edinburgh is the only remaining physical reminder of what was once a world-renowned rubber mill which, for many years, was integral to the expansion of the city and the livelihood of many of its inhabitants.

Edinburgh Printmakers, a charity which facilitates artist production in fine art printmaking, is proposing to repair and restore the 19th century building. In 1951, the rubber company was Edinburgh’s largest factory – employing 3664 workers – and the production line was a busy place, producing Wellington boots, golf balls, flooring, tyres and hot water bottles.

But at the end of the working day staff were eager to get home – or maybe even get to the pub – as this photo of staff running out of the factory at the end of their shift in 
November 1951 shows.

Built in 1818, the complex of buildings which comprises the City Observatory on Calton Hill was designed by leading architect of the period, William Henry Playfair. Of great architectural and historical importance, the Observatory has played host to a number of celebrations over the years, including a gathering to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana in July 1981.

Women at the North British Rubber Company make and test hot water bottles. Picture: TSPL

Women at the North British Rubber Company make and test hot water bottles. Picture: TSPL

And members of the public were invited to an open night in October 1963.

Crowds gathered on Calton Hill Edinburgh to watch the beacon lit on the Observatory to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. Picture: TSPL

Crowds gathered on Calton Hill Edinburgh to watch the beacon lit on the Observatory to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. Picture: TSPL