Leith iconic ‘banana flats’ could receive listed status

Flats in Cables Wynd House, Leith.

Flats in Cables Wynd House, Leith.

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IT’S the iconic block of flats made famous by Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

And now Leith’s Cables Wynd House – known as the “banana flats” due to its distinctive curved shape – could become an A-listed building.

Historic Environment Scotland is considering listing the 1960s structure, alongside neighbouring Linksview House, due to its “innovative, ground-breaking design”.

But not all residents have welcomed the plan. Jim Tweedie, chairman of the Leith Historical Society, argued that it isn’t listing the building needs, “it’s a stick of dynamite”.

He said: “I think the whole lot should get blown up, quite honestly. It’s just an eyesore – a complete eyesore. I don’t think you’ll find many Leithers who particularly like them.”

Cables Wynd House was made famous after Welsh featured it as the childhood home of Trainspotting character Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson.

During the 1980s, it became notorious as a haven for drug dealing, and was widely considered the centre of that decade’s heroin epidemic.

But heritage bosses argue the banana flats mark an important period in the city – and in Scotland’s social housing landscape. And a proposal to consider the property for listing by Historic Environment Scotland has reached an initial view that the building “may meet the criteria as a category A-listed property”, meaning it would be considered of national importance.

Residents are now being asked for their views at an informal drop-in meeting on December 6 at Leith Library, Ferry Road, from 4pm to 7pm.

Eddie Flighthead, 62, has lived in Cables Wynd House for 13 years and said he would be proud to stay in a listed building.

He said: “It was only built about 50-odd years ago and to make it a listed building would be really something. Now that it could be listed, it certainly would be a landmark in Leith, maybe more recognised than it is already.”

But news of the move sparked fierce debate on social media, where some residents branded it “ridiculous”.

One said: “They were hideous when they were built, they’re hideous today and they’ll be hideous in 100 years.”

Dawn McDowell, Historic Environment Scotland’s deputy head of listing, said: “Scotland is renowned for its rich architectural heritage.

“While our palaces, abbeys and castles are a key part of this, they are only a fraction of our diverse historic environment, which ranges from industrial buildings to the homes we live in.

“Cables Wynd House and Linksview House were innovative, ground-breaking designs at the time when they were built and offered a new vision for social housing and for those who lived in them.

“A key aim of listing is to recognise the special architectural importance of these buildings as well as celebrating and sharing their wider social and cultural role.”