Portobello amusement arcade demolished

The arcade part of the funfair site is well on its way to being torn down by builders. Picture: Esme Allen
The arcade part of the funfair site is well on its way to being torn down by builders. Picture: Esme Allen
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One of Portobello’s amusement arcades has been reduced to rubble as builders move in to start work on new flats.

The demolition of the arcade – which stands next to the derelict site of a once popular fun fair – has been described as the “end of an era”.

A smaller replacement arcade and cafe will be included in the new development alongside 73 flats with underground parking.Two neighbouring B-listed pottery kilns, dating back to 1906 and said to be the last visual remnants of the pottery industry in Scotland, will be retained.

Margaret Munro, Portobello Heritage Trust chairman, said she was sad to see it go.

She said: “It is the end of an era – there has been a funfair and amusements on the site for a long time. It’s part of the heritage.

“There was a huge funfair once but over time it has gone.

“It is a building of its time but I was still sad to see it being demolished. It’s something that you can’t bring back again now it’s gone.

“Tastes have changed and I suppose we have got to accept that.”

The project was approved by the city council nearly four years ago, despite more than 80 letters of objection.

Alastair Hackland, director of Hackland and Dore ­Architects, said the demolition had gone well.

He said: “We are hoping to start building work next month. It will be built in phases with the first phase at the western end. All being well, we hope to have the site completed in the next two to three years.”

Resident Bob Jefferson said the amusements will be fondly remembered but said the area needs developing.

He said: “I’m sure people will be sad to see it go but I don’t think there’s the market here for it anymore.

“It will always be part of Portobello’s heritage and I’m sure people will look back at it with nostalgia and fondness.”

First wave machine in Scotland

IN its heyday, in the 40s and 50s, Portobello could attract up to 18,000 visitors a day with its diving tower and adjacent funfair.

The railway, which was opened in 1846, was a key to Portobello’s success as a resort but closed in 1964.

Portobello Pool, a famous open-air saltwater pool, opened in 1936 with a hi-tech wave machine, the first of its kind in Scotland.

Heated by the town’s power station, it was demolished in 1988, but is remembered not least because a young Sean Connery once worked there as a lifeguard.