Lothians opens its doors to the public

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FROM medieval to modern, graveyards to gardens, it is the event which offers the chance to indulge one of our favourite pastimes – having a good old nose around.

Doors Open Day is back for its 22nd year and is offering a bigger programme than ever before, allowing the public a glimpse into buildings and businesses normally 
off limits.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23, 121 venues and locations across Edinburgh will be 
throwing open their doors.

And, along with roughly 30 new places to discover and explore, a 
series of lunchtime and evening talks will also be held for the first time in the week leading up to the events, covering topics as diverse as gardens, industry, colony housing and modernism in the suburbs.

Euan Leitch, assistant director of the city heritage watchdog Cockburn Association, which organises the Edinburgh event, said: “I would encourage everyone to come along. It’s a great opportunity for them and their family to access places they normally wouldn’t be able to see, learn more about a wide range of Edinburgh buildings and history and it also gives many organisations working within the Capital a chance to explain to the public what it is they do – and, best of all, it’s free.

“There really is something for everyone. I love the contrast we have between places like Liberton Tower, which is a medieval fortified dwelling, and the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine which is brand new.

“The Royal Observatory will also be putting on events for adults and kids so they can learn about the work that they do. Many people are unaware of just how important the observatory is to space research.

“Some buildings are very popular year after year, such as Register House or the City Chambers. These are places that people seem to have a permanent interest in seeing and learning more about, but we also wanted to include things that are slightly hidden, like the Scottish Mineral and Lapidary Club, which I just happened to stumble across one day.”

It’s not just about buildings, though.

“We’ve also included some really interesting gardens and graveyards,” he adds. “For example, Gogarbank Walled Garden has never previously been open, so this is a unique opportunity for access to it, and the gardens themselves are pretty unique too as there is actually a burn running through them. Plus, while you’re there you can have tea and a cake, with all the money raised going to support war veterans.”

Though the event is still a couple of weeks away, booking is needed for some of the venues, especially the new additions. Here, the Evening News picks some of the highlights among the venues new for 2012.

• See the full programme information at www.cockburnassociation.org.uk

Sculpture workshop

THE Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop was established 26 years ago to become a centre of excellence for sculptural activities in Scotland.

Created in 1986 with only £398 of funding from Edinburgh District Council and the Scottish Arts Council (SAC), its aim has been to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can become involved in sculpture through courses, workshops and events.

The centre’s growth over the years has been steady, and it has counted active members from as far afield as Norway and Japan.

Having been based at its current site at the Newhaven waterfront since 1994, it raised nearly £3.4 million in new funds, including an award of £2.3m from the SAC and National Lottery Awards in 2008, for a new sculpture centre, which opened to the public in June.

The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop at 21 Hawthornvale is open on Saturday from 10am to 4.30pm.

Liberton tower

Built in the late 15th century as a home for the Dalmahoy family, Liberton Tower has been put to many vastly different uses in the past 500 years.

The tower, hailed as “the most perfect and unspoilt tower within the precincts of Edinburgh”, contains many features typical of tower houses, including deep walls, slit windows and a listening hole called a “laird’s lug”. It also appears to correspond in a number of details with the tower at Craigmillar Castle, though the Craigmillar Tower has undergone many alterations since it was first built.

The Dalmahoys, whose crest can still be seen on the south side of the building, passed the building on to the Forrester family, and it remained a dwelling until the early 17th century.

Before it was restored and reopened as a luxury holiday home earlier this year, it was used as a farm store, a piggery and a cow shed.

The building, in Liberton Tower Lane, is open both days, 10.30am-3.30pm.

Scotstoun house

BUILT within the walled garden of the original Scotstoun House, an 18th-century building which had been demolished, this single-storey structure was designed by the late Peter Foggo for engineering firm Ove Arup & Partners in 1966 and can be found off the B800 in South Queensferry.

Although originally designed to house 60 staff, more than 100 were working on the premises by 2005, leading to the company considering demolishing it and rebuilding, or selling and moving elsewhere.

However, when it was category B listed by Historic Scotland, it was decided to modify and extend it. Since then, the building has won numerous awards, including the 2011 award for Sustainable Design from the Scottish Design Awards.

This building is open both days, between 10am and 3pm.

St Columba’s

THE original Manor House, built in 1828, has been extended and refurbished to create the education centre as the first phase of a larger project to rebuild St Columba’s Hospice.

The new centre overlooks the Firth of Forth at Trinity, the area chosen specifically for its access to therapeutic sea views and garden areas. The education centre, which is next door to the hospice in Boswall Road, provides state-of-the-art facilities for the delivery of palliative care education programmes.

The architects have elected to retain and enhance the essence of the original listed building in creating the centre.

To the front of the Manor House there are distinctive ornamental gates and railings from the RMS Aquitania, which was built by John Brown for the Cunard Steamship Co in 1913. When completed, the new St Columba’s Hospice will help around 1000 patients and their families every year.

This building is only open to visitors between 10am and 5pm on the Sunday.

Steel house

Making its Doors Open Day debut just in time for its tenth birthday, The Steel House in Hart Street is held as a demonstration of how good quality modern architecture can sit in a historic setting. The handcrafted stainless steel house is the most overtly modern building to have been given building permission in recent years within the New Town World Heritage Site.

The materials, although contrasting with the weathered and painted stone of the context, were chosen to blend with the “symphony of greys” of urban Edinburgh. The house sits in a walled garden between Georgian townhouses. Timber, glass, slate and plaster used are reminiscent of materials of the neighbouring interiors.

The Steel House is only open between 2pm and 6pm on Saturday. The designers of the house, Zone Architects, will be on hand to talk about the building.

Lamb’s house

MOST historians now agree that this Leith house was built in 1610 by Andro Lamb, a Hanseatic merchant. The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe between the 13th and 17th century. Those who argue it was built earlier base this on a record from 1561 which claims Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in Andro Lamb’s house upon her arrival from France.

The house was nearly destroyed in 1936 or 1937 by fire, but the 4th Marquis of Bute then bought it for £200 and spent thousands restoring it. The Waters’ Close building became property of the National Trust for Scotland in 1958, and was reopened in 1962 following its conversion into a day centre for retired people.

Lamb’s House will only be open between 1pm and 5pm on the Sunday.


• 1 West Annandale Street - Saturday 10am-4pm only

• 18 Eastfield, Joppa - both days 10am-4pm

• Aberdeen Asset Managers Ltd, 40 Princes Street - Saturday 10am-4pm Only

• B+B Edinburgh, 3 Rothesay Terrace - both days 10am-10pm

• Buccleuch & Greyfriars Free Church Of Scotland & Chapel Of Ease Graveyard, 10 West Cross Causeway - Saturday noon-4pm only

• Craigsbank Parish Church, 19/19A Craigsbank - Saturday 10am-2pm, Sunday 1pm-2pm

• Eco House, 223 Lanark Road West - both days 1pm-4pm

• Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 21 Hawthornvale - Saturday 10am-4.30pm only

• George Heriot’s Sports Centre, Lauriston Place - Saturday 10am-4pm only

• Gogarbank Walled Garden, Gogar Station Road - Saturday 1pm-5pm only

• Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Campus, Riccarton - Saturday 2pm only

• Hermitage House, 69A Braid Road - both days noon-4pm

• ICMS & Ecci, 15 South College Street - Saturday 10.30am-4.30pm only

• Ingleby Gallery, 15 Calton Road - Saturday 10am-4pm only

• King’s Buildings, West Mains Road - Saturday 10am-4pm only

• Laudate House, 1 Chalmers Crescent - Saturday 1pm-5.30pm only

• Leith Town Hall & Sheriff Court, 29-35 Queen Charlotte Street - Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm

• McNeil House, 7A Kinellan Road - both days 10am-3pm (closed 1pm-2pm)

• Penthouse at the Point Hotel Conference Centre, 28-34 Bread Street - Sunday 11am-4pm only

• Priory Church Of St Mary Of Mount Carmel, 8 Hopetoun Road, South Queensferry - Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday noon-4pm

• Re-Union Canal Boats, Edinburgh Quay, Fountainbridge - Sunday noon-4pm only

• Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens, Morningside Terrace - both days 10am-4pm

• Scottish Centre For Regenerative Medicine, 5 Little France Drive - Sunday 10.30am-4pm only

• Scottish Genealogy Society, 15 Victoria Terrace - Saturday noon-5pm, Sunday 10am-3pm

• Scottish Mineral & Lapidary Club, 20 Maritime Lane - both days 10am-5pm

• Summerhall, 1 Summerhall - both days 11am-4pm

• The Linburn Centre, Louise Braille Avenue, Wilkieston - Saturday 10am-3pm only

• The Victorian Schoolroom, 9 Brunswick Road - both days 10am-4pm

• Trades Maiden Hospital, 61 Melville Street - Sunday 10am-4pm only

• Tynecastle High School, 2 McLeod Street - Saturday noon-4pm only

• Wardie Primary School, Granton Road - Saturday 10am-1pm only

• Wt Architecture, Gote Lane Studio - both days 10am-5pm