Philanthropist George Boyd Anderson and Lord Provost Herbert Brechin at the opening of Hillend's chairlift in October 1966.
Philanthropist George Boyd Anderson and Lord Provost Herbert Brechin at the opening of Hillend's chairlift in October 1966.

Edinburgh's Hillend Ski Centre: 21 pictures from the 1960s that show what the Midlothian Snowsports Centre looked like over half a century ago

As we approach the middle of January it’s very much snowsport season for Scotland’s thousand of enthusiatic skiers and snowboarders – and Edinburgh residents are lucky enough to have the Midlothian Snowsports Centre on their doorstep.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 9:30 am

Formerly known as Hillend Ski Centre, the winter sports venue on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is set for a majoy revamp – and it was clearly already a popular spot shortly after opening over 50 years ago.

Boasting the second longest dry ski slope in Europe, located in the shadow of the Pentland Hills and visible from all over Edinburgh, Midlothian Snowsports Centre is operated by Midlothian Council.

Its history dates back to 1964 when a 50m test dry ski slope was opened on the east side of Buiselaw on land owned by Lothianburn Golf Club – the brainchild of local philanthropist George Boyd Anderson, Edinburgh councillor Herbert Brechin and Scottish skiiing pioneer Herbert Brechin.

Just two years earlier the new brush-like ski surface had been demonstrated for the first time by a group of instructors from the Spey Valley.

Youngsters from local schools were the first to take to the slopes and it proved so popular that it was clear that a larger facility was needed.

It moved to its current location in 1965 and was lengthened to 200m, with additions such as achairlift and floodlights (initially using gas lights) following soon after.

Financial difficulties a decade ago threatened closure, but a vital injection of £500,000 from SportScotland ensured the centre’s survival – to the relief of the approximately 40,000 children who used the facility for school skiing lessons each year.

Today it has two main slopes accessed by a long tow and chairlift, a 20m nursery slope, two combined 20m nursery slopes, a tubing set-up and a jump slope.

All runs are made of the matting that is means it is suitable for use all year round, with a misting system to increase speed and create a more realistic ski surface.

The centre was recently the subject of a successful planning application by Midlothian Council to extend the facilities to include a number of attractions including a zipline, alpine coaster, soft play, hotel, shops and restaurants.

Here are 21 pictures to take you back to the Hillend of the 1960s.

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