Work begins to demolish historic Leith grain warehouse

Historic grain silo to disappear in coming months

Monday, 1st February 2021, 6:10 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 7:09 pm

Work has begun to demolish the main structure of a historic grain silo as part of a major project to transform Leith’s waterfront.

The commencement of the final stages to demolish the Category B listed Imperial Dock grain elevator will likely be completed by summer 2021, say Leith Docks officials.

Forth Ports say the removal of the industrial landmark, which will transform the Leith skyline, is part of a commitment to enhance its position in the offshore renewables market.

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Watch: Urban explorers break law to visit abandoned Leith grain silo

A seven-figure privately funded investment has been secured to bring to the market an additional 25 hectares of land linked to over 3km of deep water quaysides.

Demolition of the derelict grain warehouse was granted in 2015 despite opposition from heritage bodies, including the Cockburn Association.

The building was listed 26 years ago when it was still in use and had been recognised as a rare survival that still contained its early machinery.

The grain silo dates from the 1930s.

It is understood the mostly concrete structure is being brought down gradually bit by bit rather than by controlled explosion.

The elevator element of the grain silo, an extensive conveyor belt, was demolished two years ago.

Leith Docks has been increasingly used in recent years for the storage of offshore wind farm foundation jackets and other work associated with the subsea elements of the development of offshore windfarms.

Commenting on the investment and plans, David Webster, Senior Port Manager at Forth Ports, said: “This investment is another example of our commitment to bring large-scale renewables to Scotland. This will allow Leith to build on its current success as well as complement the significant upgrades that are under way in our Dundee facility. The foundation logistics in Leith will be supported by the wind turbine hub in Dundee, we see this as the future to local content in Scotland that will drive employment.”

“We’ve always said we’re committed to using the Scottish supply chain as much as possible and we’re really pleased to be working with the Port of Leith.”

Kenny Williamson, Deputy Port Manager said: “I have been working in the Port of Leith for 37 years and have never seen so many vessels in port with so much activity going on. This is an exciting time for Leith and Edinburgh as we adapt, upgrade and regenerate the port to create opportunities in Scotland’s emerging industries. We have been successful in winning a number of contracts this year, along with our partners.

“Leith is the largest Port on the East Coast of Scotland and has extensive deep water non-tidal berths connected to more than 140 hectares of land.”

The multi-storey Imperial Dock grain elevator was designed by JD Easton and AH Roberts for the Leith Dock Commission and dates from 1933/34.

The building’s interior is comprised of a series of concrete bins used as grain storage silos with an access floor to the top and another to the bottom.

In November, the Evening News reported how a group of urban explorers gained illegal access to the building to film themselves walking round the structure.

The group revealed that the silo’s electric strip lighting remained switched on, despite the building having closed in the 2000s.

Forth Ports responded to the footage, stating that they strongly condemned the actions.

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