AN ambitious plan to erect an £8 million motoring museum on the site of the one of the world’s oldest purpose-built car factories is being backed by some of the city’s most notable heritage figures.
City architect John McLaren has drawn up a blueprint to construct a National Motor Heritage Trust museum on the site of the disused Madelvic car factory in Granton.
The plant was built in 1899 to make electric vehicles but is now empty and derelict.
John’s vision, which also includes the construction of a karting centre, driving academy and hotel, has drawn considerable support in the form of renowned city architect Malcolm Fraser, heritage body The Cockburn Association and motoring journalist Graham Gauld.
Meanwhile, numerous funders such as Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund have also declared an interest in the proposals.
However, when John pitched his plan to council-owned developer and landowner Waterfront Edinburgh Limited at their April meeting they were rejected in favour of increased housing in the area.
Government-funded regeneration company Places for People are currently consulting on plans which include the demolition of the car factory.
But John hopes to raise enough public backing for his plans to cause a rethink from WEL chiefs.
He said: “I’m sure there is a need for housing, but Granton is crying out for something like this. This would give it a real centre.
“This museum will bring a real focus to both the city and Granton as Edinburgh and the Lothians have a wonderful place in the history of motoring and motorsport, which has remained unrecognised by the city.”
The Capital boasts a wealth of motorsport history and tradition, involving current world stars Dario Franchitti and Paul Di Resta, 1957 Le mans winner Ron Flockhart, and David Murray, who in 1952 established Ecurie Ecosse at Merchiston Mews.
It was also suggested the museum could house exhibits on the city’s public transport history – such as the Capital’s original trams.
Motoring historian and writer Graham Gauld said: “I think this museum would do very well because there is a real interest in motorsport in the Lothians. Madelvic is a major part of motoring history itself.
“The only difficulty might be getting cars to show, but there are various people around Edinburgh who could be approached to lend models from their collections.”
The Cockburn Association has expressed their support for the proposal, while award- winning architect Malcolm Fraser wrote of Places for People and the old factory: “We end up in the extraordinary position, that in a derelict part of Edinburgh, full of vacant, weed-filled sites, we are told it is necessary to pull down the one, remaining, piece of history, in order to build homes there.”