Bid to save historic Portobello school building from demolition

Portobello residents want to see the building kept.
Portobello residents want to see the building kept.
0
Have your say

A LAST-DITCH bid has been launched to save a historic former Portobello primary school as the bulldozers prepare to roll in.

Campaigners want to save St John’s at the corner of Hamilton Terrace and Duddingston Road, believing it to be an important piece of education heritage.

But the city council wants to demolish the site and replace it with a park it pledged to deliver as part of the new schools development.

“It was one of two main primary schools in that area and apart from a local fondness for it, it’s a good building,” said mother-of-three and Portobello resident Rosie Nimmo.

“Maybe it requires some maintenance and maybe that’s why the council are looking to offload it and create a park.”

Built in 1924, the Neo-Georgian building was designed by renowned school architects Reid and Forbes.

The site is thought to be the first newly-built Catholic school in Edinburgh, and possibly Scotland, after the Scottish Education Act 1918 integrated denomination schools into the state system.

Campaigners want to see it become an alternate new home for the Palette community arts centre after its base is knocked down as part of Meadowbank work.

“We’re just after a commonsense approach. It’s closed down but it could become a creative hub,” said Ms Nimmo

“The park is not even 100 metres away. It’s just so stupid. There’s even a garden in the grounds of the school. There’s quite a strength of opinion locally to stop this happening but that doesn’t seem to matter to the council.

“I’d say 50 per cent of the people in Portobello went it there. It had such a great reputation. It’s just a bit of an inglorious end. It feels like there’s heritage there and it should be continued in a positive way.”

Catherine Etoe launched an online petition to save St John’s which is closing in on its 800-signature target.

She said: “Artists have come forward with ideas of how to use the building in a way that would involve local schools and the community. The feeling is that it could be put it into productive use with the park wrapped around it, bringing the new park to life while providing revenue for the 
council.”

A council spokesman said plans have been “public knowledge for several years” and demolition is scheduled for later in the year.

He added: “In line with the Bill that went through the Scottish Parliament in 2014 for the building of the new Portobello High School the Council is committed to building a new park on the old site for St John’s.

“Public consultations have taken place regarding the whole school site project which included the design of the park for which planning permission has been approved.”