Edinburgh company Bernard Hunter celebrates 75th anniversary of business with time capsule

Family firm praised for its support for Edinburgh community

One of Edinburgh’s longest-established and most successful family firms has celebrated its first 75 years by creating a time capsule.

Gilmerton-based crane and plant hire contractor Bernard Hunter has already published a book charting the company’s rise from humble beginnings in Leith in 1946 to its involvement in major projects from the Queensferry Crossing to the Edinburgh St James Quarter.

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The capsule includes a letter of congratulations from Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray and a copy of his book about the successful campaign to save Heart of Midlothian Football Club, as well as items contributed by some of the community groups which Bernard Hunter has supported.

The Drum Field Archers, Scotland’s largest community archery club, put in a specially-made arrow. And there were mementos and information from Chinwag, a local community project tackling isolation; Club McKendry, a cycle spin club run by Evening News Local Hero Iain McKendry; and Gilmerton and Inch Community Council.

There was also a copy of a congratulatory motion passed by the city council, the recently published history of Bernard Hunter, a model lorry and the latest plans for the Gilmerton Gateway development which the company is involved in. Proposals for the development include the creation of Scotland’s first purpose-built community archery centre for the Drum Field Archers and a new home for Club McKendry.

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Mr Murray said: “As the largest private sector employer in Gilmerton, Bernard Hunter has provided jobs for generations of local residents, but it’s done way more than that. The company has always played a full role in supporting the local community from decades of support for Ferniehill Football Club to supporting the Drum Field Archers and the McKendry Spinners. When Drum Archers outgrew their initial home at Gilmerton’s Society Hall it was Bernard Hunter that stepped in to help keep them in the area and they did the same when Club McKendry was made homeless just recently.

"I can think of no other company that has done so much for the community in which it is based. The company’s also helping deliver a much-needed health centre and other facilities that will make Gilmerton better for its residents as part of the Gilmerton Gateway development. I congratulate Bernard Hunter for their 75 years of success and wish them many, many more years of success.”

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Happy 75th birthday - (left to right): Hazel King, head of finance, Bernard Hunter; Jean Duncan and Elaine Scott of Chinwag; Janis McKendry of the McKendry Spinners; Angela Rafferty, family, Bernard Hunter; Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South; Mark Rafferty, family, Bernard Hunter; Lesley Gibson-Eaglesham of Gilmerton and Inch Community Council; Jim and Liz Rafferty, family, Bernard Hunter: Pauline MacFarlane, Drum Field Archers; Jim Rafferty family, Bernard Hunter.

After being established in Leith, the company quickly grew to be a player in the construction of modern Edinburgh, as well as being one of the city’s earliest recycling businesses. The crane business began in the early 1950s and when the company outgrew its Leith base it moved in the early 1960s to the site of the former Gilmerton Colliery in the south of the city where it remains based today.

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Managing director Mark Rafferty, grandson of the founder Bernard Hunter, said: “I’m immensely proud of the amazing achievements of my grandfather Bernard and all of our family. We have worked very hard to make Bernard Hunter a company that has an outstanding reputation for customer care, and a company with a strong commitment to our employees and to the local community. We felt it was important to commemorate this anniversary, and a time capsule seemed the perfect way to mark 75 years of success. We’ve created a lot of local history in Gilmerton and across Scotland, and these items will give a future generation a unique insight into our extraordinary story.”

The time capsule included contributions from groups in the community.