Oldest Scottish youth club to get new £1.5m home

Operations manager Lindsay Coulton, centre manager Mark Foster and volunteer Chelsea Tant with the children from Fetlor Youth club. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Operations manager Lindsay Coulton, centre manager Mark Foster and volunteer Chelsea Tant with the children from Fetlor Youth club. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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SCOTLAND’S oldest youth club is about to get a £1.5 ­million new home.

Fet-Lor youth club in Crewe Road South – which traces its origins back to 1924 – is used by around 100 young people, aged eight to 18, in Pilton, who visit it several times a week.

But the current clubhouse, put up in 1960, has seen better days and will now make way for a brand new two-storey building with more space and opportunities.

Former members attended a special event earlier this week to say “goodbye” to the old building, which is due to be demolished on Monday.

Alastair Salvesen, one of the club’s trustees, said Fet-Lor was “one of the hidden secrets of Edinburgh – doing a good job without any fuss”.

He said: “We have a great past and a wonderful future, but the only way we can get there is to demolish the existing clubhouse and build a new one.

“The ideas and plans of the new clubhouse have been discussed in detail by the members.”

Fundraising and operations manager Lindsay Coulton said the new club would occupy the same space on the same plot, but would have more facilities.

“There will be a big ­multi-purpose sports hall with climbing wall; a dance studio – something the girls were desperate for; a kitchen where we hope to run a cafe or food catering training for young people; there will be a woodwork workshop; and we used to be a real hub for bike maintenance and we’re hoping to get back to that – the kids love tinkering around with bikes but we’ve not had the space in the current building to keep the equipment.”

Fet-Lor also plans to act as a hub allowing other specialist youth organisations to work with the young people using the club.

The club began off the Royal Mile in 1924. It is called Fet-Lor because it was started by independent schools Fettes and Loretto for the “poor boys of Edinburgh”. It has been on its current site since 1950 and prides itself on being used by young people from various parts of North Edinburgh ­because it is on “gang-free, neutral territory”.

Fet-Lor has after-school clubs every day, and also runs Duke of Edinburgh Awards, co-operates with other youth organisations to provide a busy summer programme. It has close links with Broughton High School, engaging in intensive one-to-one work with young people needing extra support.

The club has secured enough money to construct the new building but still needs to raise around £300,000 to complete the fitting out.

Ms Coulton said it was due to reopen in March next year. She said: “It’s going to give the young people of North Edinburgh the fantastic facility they deserve.”

During construction, the club will have to scale back activities, but staff will be based at Broughton High and other facilities will be used when possible. Ms Coulton said: “We will be back, we will be bigger and able to work with more young people.”

Andrew Barrie, chair of the club, said Fet-Lor had been providing a vital youth work service for the past 90 years.

“Since moving to Crewe Road South in 1950, thousands of young people have enjoyed coming to this safe haven, socialising, making new friends and taking part in a range of sports and other activities.

“The new club building is about securing the future of Fet-Lor for the next 90 years.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com