Wing of historic building to become play centre

Margaret Collingwood says the facilities will be a community asset. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Margaret Collingwood says the facilities will be a community asset. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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A DISUSED wing of a historic building which dates back to the early 17th century is being transformed into a children’s play centre.

The Inch Community Centre is used by scores of youngsters, but equipment has to be unpacked and repacked before and after each session.

But under new plans a permanent soft-play area will be installed, alongside a teen-friendly section with pool tables and sofas along with free wi-fi.

A garden will also be cultivated so children can play outside.

Bosses and volunteers are now aiming to raise nearly £200,000 to revamp the vacant wing of the A-listed Inch House.

Dr Margaret Collingwood, a member of the management committee and chair of the Greater Liberton Heritage Project, believes an upgraded centre will become a real asset in the community.

She said: “It’s going to put life back into the building. We have a beautiful building, but it lacks purpose at the moment, so we are going to make it useful and create better facilities for the children.

“At the moment, the staff have to keep bringing all the toys from the store, a situation which will be improved when we get this new facility.”

Dr Collingwood said the revamp would take around three months after the cash is raised and would see the centre offer childcare to parents in the area.

She said: “For some of the parents who use the centre, there’s no-one to look after the children, but if we had better facilities we would be able to increase our free crèche.

“The teenagers in Inch have very few places to go, so hopefully if we get them to use it we can give them more direction because the levels of deprivation in Inch are high.”

The two storey-structure dates back to 1634 when it was built by James Winram, the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, before being taken over by his son George Winram, who died fighting Oliver Cromwell in 1650.

The property was seized by Cromwell and passed to the Gilmour family in 1660. They remained owners until the estate was sold to Edinburgh in 1945 where it was used as a school until the 1970s.

Dr Collingwood added. “The wing was staff accommodation when the Gilmours had the house and then it was a teenagers’ club in the 1970s, but it has been unused since then.”

A host of successful fundraisers have collected around £80,000 towards the project, with a fashion show featuring Sainsbury’s latest clothing range taking place at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre on Friday.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray will act as compere at the event after giving his backing to the campaign.

Labour member Mr Murray said: “The new children’s wing will be a fantastic addition to the centre and will give local young people space to relax and have fun.

“I’ll be sure to pass on all the latest fashion trends and tips to my colleagues in 

Sainsbury’s clothing manager Alan Crosby said: “We’re really looking forward to supporting the Inch Community Centre with their fashion show.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with them, they’re right on our doorstep and do fantastic work in the local community.”