Derelict Edinburgh bowling clubhouse could become Scotland's first fully sustainable printworks

A derelict clubhouse in Leith could become Scotland’s first fully sustainable printworks under proposals put forward by a local community-based company.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 1:42 pm

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Noel Spencer, director of Leith-based community interest company (CIC) Bare Branding, wants to turn The Bowling Club clubhouse at Leith Links into a local hub for artists, designers and local businesses to access carbon-neutral printing services.

He says environment-focused customers, including the Scottish Green Party, currently have to go south of the border to obtain a similar service for printing of publications, business documents, signs, posters and banners and merchandise.

Noel Spencer, director of Leith-based Bare Branding

Other ideas are also being discussed by the community for the future of the single-storey stone building and the nearby land, including a skateboard park or an open-air bandstand for live music.

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However, Mr Spencer argues his proposal would bring jobs and economic growth to the area as part of a sustainable community enterprise.

He said: “Once refurbished, the building will be a vibrant local attraction, operating all year round, providing real life skills, employment and financial benefits for all.

“We see a revitalised building as a centre for sustainability and education. It could house a teaching and production hub for art, crafts and design as well as an open-access, digital print and up-cycling centre.

“The Bowling Green could also provide a drop-off and collection point that would be used to distribute goods by electric transportation throughout Edinburgh and Glasgow, thereby

contributing to cleaner air initiatives.

“Run along these lines, the building could be both a catalyst for artists and also promote inclusion for all those who live and work in Leith.”

Mr Spencer, who trained as an artist before launching Bare Branding three years ago, intends to apply for community funding to convert the building.

He added: “The surrounding grounds, with its perfectly flat old bowling greens, would be ideally suited for associated outdoor events such as art exhibitions and craft fairs for local artists.

“Together with the building, they could create a place that would attract people of all ages and backgrounds, one that would complement the new pavilion proposed by Earth in Common.”

Mr Spencer said that since its launch in 2018, his non-profit business has become deeply rooted in the Leith community, providing sustainable print services to local groups and organisations including the Citadel Youth Centre, Leith FAB cricket club, the Leith Festival, the YMCA, Save Leith Walk, Save Our Shore, Canongate Youth Group, Friends of Giles Street, the Royal High School, St Mary’s School and Edinburgh College of Art.

Lynzi Leroy, chief executive of the recently-launched, non-profit community interest company Scottish Design Exchange (SDX) in George Street, who is backing Mr Spencer’s proposal for The Bowling Club clubhouse, said: “We share the same ethos and values as Bare Branding and we believe it would be an invaluable local resource.

“During lockdown, many talented locals re-invented themselves as artists. They have had their work printed by Noel and his colleagues and are now finding success selling through the SDX online shop to buyers in Europe and America.”

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