Nostalgia: The rooms before a Vue

Greenside, circa 1950s
Greenside, circa 1950s
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LYING in the shadow of Calton Hill, the Greenside area of the city was home to 571 people and 256 houses before the futuristic glass-fronted Omni Centre and Vue multiplex cinema spung into existence.

Huge tenements left its narrow streets dimly lit and it’s alleyways saw little sunshine.

Greenside before the Omni Centre development

Greenside before the Omni Centre development

The area was known for over-crowding and suffered from poor sanitation and ventilation.

It became a priority area on the council’s programme of slum clearances which was backed by the City’s Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Sanitary Inspector.

The Medical Officer had declared the area unfit for human habitation and the only satisfactory option would be to pull the tenements down.

Demolition began in 1961, with an Evening News journalist commenting that the area was awaiting a “new era of usefulness”.

Greenside before the glass facade of the multiplex cinema

Greenside before the glass facade of the multiplex cinema

The area would have to wait some time as a large multi-storey car park filled the gap left behind by the housing until the late 1990s, when a 
multi-million pound development 
for a cinema and leisure complex was envisaged.

It was more than three decades before, what had become one of the city’s most notorious gap sites, saw the emergence of the Omni Centre.

That gap site – a legacy of ill-fated attempt to provide the Capital with an inner ring road that would filter traffic through a tunnel cut into Calton Hill – became home to the entertainment complex in

November 2002.

During the intervening years numerous projects to redevelop the area were considered and discarded – the BBC even briefly thought about building its new headquarters there – but all were deemed unsuitable for the World Heritage Site until the Omni Centre, a combination of leisure facilities and retail units was given the green light.

Now, what was once one of Edinburgh’s poorest areas boasts a trendy hotel, cinema anda string of bars and restaurants.