Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Canongate Venture Former pupil reaches 100

In yesterday`s Evening News was the life of "French polisher Mary Neilson smoothes the path to her 100th birthday" a trip down Old Town memory lane -

Full article here
From article -
"Mary Neilson will mark a major milestone tomorrow

when she celebrates her 100th birthday.
Mrs Neilson was born Mary Thomson in Edinburgh's Old Town on February 24, 1909, the youngest of five children.She grew up in a tenement on Holyrood Road and was a pupil at North Canongate School."

The North Canongate School is now known as The Canongate Venture and at risk from demolition as we know from the "Caltongate"

Mary would have skipped along this lovely minstrel`s gallery and enjoyed the daylight through the beautiful sunny atrium

and was perhaps taught in this room ......the building is 8 years older than Mary and could last another 100 years and be of use to another generation of the capitals residents.

There is no reason to knock it down for what does not exist anymore (Conference dream over) which was used even by Historic Scotland - to justify the destruction of the sound building. The empire of the greedy has like other empires before, risen and now fallen and the time has arrived again for this building to do what it was originally built for, to serve the public good , not the greedy self interest of a few individuals.

Like Mary the building has reached a fine age as it too is strong.

"She's a very strong-willed woman, but I think you would have to be to reach that age"

In the article it also tells how Mary is a member of the Canongate Kirk which has a connection with her former primary school -

Perhaps Mary was one of the pupils who met artist Stanley Cursiter . When he was a young artist in the 1920s from Orkney, Stanley and his friends who were starting out in Edinburgh, they thought it was a great idea that all the children in the capital``s primary schools saw an original work of art hanging in their school and meet the artist themselves. Each painting would tell each school something of the history of their own school and facts about their own neighbourhood.

So Stanley Cursiter did the one for the North Canongate School, recording the founding of the nearby Abbey at Holyrood.

After it was hung in the school though trouble broke out over it and there were letters to ‘The Scotsman’. ( cuttings of which are held in the Geddes Archives at Stathclyde University)

Someone had noticed that the cross in the painting was a crucifix and had written to the newspaper complaining that in a State, Protestant and Presbyterian school a crucifix had been infiltrated. The picture was not allowed to remain on the walls. The young artists thought this was an act of censorship, so they withdrew their support and this was the only picture to survive.
The painting was discovered in the 1960s in the Royal Mile Primary School, then called Milton House School. They did not want to hang it anywhere public and asked the minister of the kirk, Dr Selby Wright what they could do with it. He took it and hung it in the Canongate Kirk.

It now hangs between two windows, preserved from the light.

The painting is based on a Pisanello painting which you can see in the National Gallery in London. It shows the King’s Park and Arthur’s Seat with the wild flowers and animals to be found there.

You see King David kneeling before the white stag with the cross between its antlers.

Monday, 23 February 2009

An OSCAR for Canongate Project Film!

Hearing that we have been awarded an OSCAR
along with Kate Winslet has got us thinking about those we know here in the Canongate who have also been involved in a film which has received awards.

In 2007 the film was nominated for a Scottish Bafta and then in 2008 invited to Robert Redfords` world famous Sundance Film Festival, and keeps on winning.

Breadmaking by a unique community with learning disabilities in Edinburgh

The bread is delicious and enjoyed not only here in the Canongate (you can get it in The Royal Mile Grocers aka "Tonys" and The Scottish Grocers) and by no other than

Breadmakers Film Blogspot

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Canongate Project Film on YouTube

Cuboid performance appears in film
The launch yesterday at The Scottish Storytelling Centre here on The Royal Mile was fantastic and thanks to all who took part and attended. Enjoy the project`s film.
Big thanks to Julie and David.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Come to the Scottish Storytelling Centre Today

The Scottish Storytelling Centre above in a picture taken on the 29th April 2006, in advance of our highly successful and fun filled SOOT Street Party on May the 6th. The second one which was planned as part of The Canongate Project, was cancelled at the eleventh hour, due to the street being double booked by the council!

Come along at 2pm today and see for yourself the important findings from the project that decision makers need to take notice of and action on.
See previous posting for more details of the afternoon. If you can`t make the theatre presentation and discussions come along at 4.15 for an hour or so and have a blether about it all over a cup of tea.

Here is the leaflet to advertise the report - click on the images to enlarge

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Report Launch at Storytelling Centre 21 Feb 09

The Canongate Project warmly invite you to their launch of

The Report

on The Canongate Project

This Saturday 21st February 20092pm - 5.30pm

At The Scottish Storytelling Centre

43-45 High St . Edinburgh (John Knox`s House)

Programme -

2pm Registration
2.15pm Presentation in Theatre
2.15pm Welcome and introduction to the event - Catriona Grant Chair of CCF

The Scarf Study Report Project co-ordinators' Sally Richardson and Julie Logan will present an overview of this exciting and innovative project, giving examples of events and discuss the key outcomes.

Premier of short film produced by participants of the Canongate Project

Possible next steps/follow up

Pauline Gallacher to talk about the experience of Neilston, Renfrewshire; developing from a SCARF study to forming a Development Trust and acquiring premises-

Eva Schonveld on Transition towns in Scotland -

Open Discussion

Cafe for tea/and coffee, net-working and viewing exhibition.

5.30 Conclusion of event

The Canongate Project was funded by SCARF

The Scottish Communities Action Research Fund

Please contact us if you wish to reserve a place

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Not adding up!

Sailor's Ark 0n Royal Mile faces demolition for "economic" reasons.

Something just isn't adding up, I don't want to take away from the good work Heritage Scotland does but when you look back to their input into Caltongate, questions have to be asked and quite serious ones. Do they do their sums on the back of fag packets?

Historic Scotland said there was "economic justification" to demolish the Ark Building and Canongate Venture in the Canongate, these buildings are listed buildings, yet because it was seen to be profitable to build Mountgrange's fantasy they could be knocked down to build a 5 star hotel and a conference centre . Yet today we hear that the EICC - Edinburgh International Conference Centre is in financial sctoom.
The EICC made a £600,000 plus loss in 2007 and some of it's staff may face redundancy. It is predicted equavelent losses will be made this year too. Read about it here

Seemingly 4 years ago Edinburgh was in the top 20 places to have an International Conference but has slipped out of the Top 20 League today, the economic crisis will be taking its toll.

So what exactly were the economic figures for the Caltongate Conference Centre, were they just based on speculative capitalism and unlimited growth? Was it wishful thinking?

We were promised 2000 plus jobs through Caltongate however I can't thelp think that all there sums just didn't add up.

Imagine if the demolitions go ahead on the basis of Historic Scotland's "economic justification" and nothing is built - listed buildings would belost forever. Hopefully we can save them if Caltongate can't go ahead due to it's own economic crisis - and maybe even bring back Jock the Cock who was undignifiably removed from the Canongate Venture a couple of years ago. See here to see Jock the Cock's fate.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Unesco Slates Caltongate

The chickens are coming home to roost to the City Chambers, and it won`t be that long before we have our very own in the New Street gap site by the sound of things....
from todays article Unesco slates Caltongate scheme in The Scotsman -

full article here
"A DOSSIER into Edinburgh's World Heritage Site has strongly criticised the handling of a controversial development in the heart of the Old Town.
The Unesco report, delivered to the city council on Friday, has singled out for criticism the way the £300 million Caltongate scheme was approved by the authorities despite protests from a host of heritage groups."

"Jim Lowrie, the city council head of planning, said: "(The report] does criticise us over the Caltongate development. We are going to have to look at (that] before we respond in detail."

In The Sunday Herald Joanna Blythman wrote whilst celebrating it seems
Grand’ failure offers green light for green space "Rejoice! Caltongate, Edinburgh's grandiose £300 million development project, looks dead in the water because the company behind it, Mountgrange, has run out of dosh. The company has clocked up a loss of £24m and is so indebted that there is "a material uncertainty that casts doubts over the company's ability to continue as a going concern". As someone who lways thought the Caltongate project was a crock of ordure, I won't shed a tear if Mountgrange goes down the pan, taking its ill-conceived plan with it." full article here

Please note that the Canongate Community Forum AGM that was to take place tonight has been postponed.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Great Calton & Gate Swindle

Caltongate The Movie


"The Developers"

Manish "Its a 5 star hotel or nothing" Chande


Martin "The Silent One" Myers

"The Cooncil"

Jenny ""Its grotesque and hideous, lets approve it" Dawe present city leader

Jim "laugh a minute" Lowrie present planning convenor

Donald " How I made Edinburgh"" Anderson, former City Leader, now Director of Mountgrange`s PR firm PPS Group Scotland

Trevor " the finger " Davies, former planning convenor

"The Architects"

Malcolm "heritage bodies are toxic " Fraser

co starrring

Spin Doctor
Mark "Never Beaten PR" Cummings

Ron "rent a gob" Hewitt, Head of Chamber of Commerce

Historic Scotland

Architecture Design Scotland

to be continued.................

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Evening News mourns Caltongate

Caltongate: 'Mountgrange at least had an innovative plan'
This is the Evening News Comment from yesterday to accompany the devastating news that Caltongate is on the brink of collapse, see yesterdays posting.
AFTER years of consultation and compromise it is unfortunate that the Caltongate project is likely to at the very least be further delayed due to the dire circumstances in which the development company finds itself.

Love the idea or hate it, Mountgrange had at least come up with an innovative scheme to breathe new life into a derelict corner of the inner city.Such problems have already resulted in delays to other major regeneration projects at Springside on the former Fountain Brewery Site and at Shawfair, where plans to create a "new town" on the outskirts of the city have also been shelved.Elsewhere, progress at Granton and on the Waterfront is slow and the plan to develop a medical park at Little France shows little sign of progression. The commercial property market is, to say the least, difficult and it will take some time to recover.
During the lengthy period it has taken Mountgrange to obtain planning permission for its housing, leisure and business scheme its fortunes have slumped dramatically. The company has posted losses in excess of £24 million and has seen the value of the Caltongate site plummet by almost £18 million. Its auditors gloomily forecast that they are uncertain as to whether it can keep trading. But before those who fought against the scheme celebrate, they must remember that the site will eventually be developed and the principles which underpinned it will not go away.
It is understandable that in the present economic climate that banks are wary about backing companies such as Mountgrange who are involved in speculative construction projects. There is plenty unfilled office space in Edinburgh, with more becoming available soon, and not too many firms are queuing up to expand or move into new premises. Housebuilders are finding it difficult to unload even what affordable housing is being completed.
Against this background it is somewhat reassuring that the city council today has earmarked an additional £1.4m in next year's budget to help stimulate economic growth. It hopes for an outlay of almost £4m that it will attract over a hundred times that in new investment and it promises to invest more the following year should it be required.Aiming to attract such level of investment in these times may seem an ambitious target but the city must continue to aim high. Recessions don't last for ever and Edinburgh must ensure that when it is over it is in the best position to take advantage of any opportunities that might become available.

From an article at the end of last year Councils look to get their message through letterboxes more often in The Sunday Herald, the Evening News has let the City Of Edinburgh Council and Mountgrange know exactly how much they support them!
from the article -

John McLellan, editor of the Evening News, scorns the suggestion that this outlay should be increased to compensate for his paper's shortcomings.

"I am really sorry that I have caused those poor sensitive dears so much heartache. I take it as a compliment. If you actually analysed the main policies on which the council has received criticism, you would find that we supported them.

We were behind the trams, the rationalisation of schools, the Caltongate development and the decision to demolish Meadowbank stadium. "On the point of the leadership of the council, we are reflecting exactly what every civic leader says about them."

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Caltongate on the brink of Collapse

In today`s Evening News Caltongate on the brink of Collapse
Its on the front page with a photo of the site more on this later

very busy here in the republic...more news coming in

Monday, 9 February 2009

Canongate Snowtime

View up the Canongate with Macrae tenements to the right

which are to be demolished for Accor Five Star Hotel.

Up and down past the Canongate Tollbooth

Every morning pigeons sit on the Canongate Kirk and a crow on the stags antlers.

View toward New Street site where bulk of Caltongate to be built, with Canongate Venture in foreground, to be demolished for 5 star hotel`s conference centre. Calton Hill in background.

Whats left of the Belltower on the Canongate Venture building, which the council vandalised in 2007.

View through former Vegetable Market and Canongate Venture on East Market St to the new council headquarters. Caltongate buildings to replace the market and school are basically more of the same, basically nothing but glass with the odd bit of opaque material, So lots of heat lost in winter then blinds down when a ray of sunshine appears.

The lights are on but no-one's in at council offices

ARRIVING in the city at the end of last month to take up a six-month work contract I was greeted as the train pulled in by what looked like a new office block ablaze with all its lights left on (all weekend no doubt) and not a soul inside.
My first thought was that the city council would be ashamed of any firm engaging in such high-profile corporate eco-terrorism, making such an unfavourable first impression upon visitors. When I saw the building again in the same state later in the week and went to find out who it belonged to, I could really hardly believe it is none other than the city council's own HQ – you couldn't make it up!It really beggars belief that the council can be so inept that they would set such a brazenly bad example. I can't imagine I'm the only person in the city to take issue with this, and wonder whether there is any way that something can be done about it? I assume they have some sort of environmental policy, however rudimentary? I noted with approval before I arrived that the city had elected some Green party councillors – how I sympathise with them if they have to try to tackle Neanderthal behaviour of this kind from the ruling group and/or officers!

Robert Steel, Dean Park Crescent, Edinburgh

Someone has written in about the Johnston Terrace Tree Travesty from last week -

Trees down but ineptitude grows

I WAS saddened to read of the crass stupidity of the parks department in cutting down the trees in King's Stables Road (News, February 4). Is there no end to the incompetence of our overstaffed, overpaid, underworked council departments?Anyone with half a brain knows trees and bushes are a stabilising factor where you have an embankment, otherwise it will erode and the earth slip down the slope.The "over-the-top" reaction by these jobsworths typifies the poor administrative skills and judgement of council staff where silly people justify their expensive existence by coming up with hare-brained ideas like this.Besides the loss of greenery and wildlife, planting wild flowers is a pathetic response to such civic vandalism.

Cecilia C Cavaye, Durham Terrace, Edinburgh

Both letters appear in today`s Evening News

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Invitation to Event on 21st Feb 09

The project was run from shop premises in St Mary`s St just off the Canongate

The Canongate Community Forum
warmly invite you to the launch of their report on
The "Canongate Project"
Saturday 21st February 2009
2pm - 5.30pm

At The Scottish Storytelling Centre

Programme -
2pm Registration
2.15pm Presentation in Theatre

3.30pm Discussion Time in Theatre
4.15pm Refreshments & opportunity
to see further material displayed and network in cafe
5.30pm Close

The Canongate Project was funded by SCARF

The Scottish Communities Action Research Fund
Please contact us if you wish to reserve a place

Friday, 6 February 2009

Don`t DIY Alone Event in Edinburgh

Save Our Old Town supporters are completing the community banner, which was started during the Canongate Project last year. We hope to display the banner at our Action Research launch on Saturday 21st February at. (More on that to follow)

We have taken the opportunity to take part in an event this weekend which is detailed below.

We have been given space to work on finishing the Community Banner at the Forrest Cafe on Saturday 7th Feb between 4pm - 7pm

Everyone is welcome to come along and help on the banner if they can.

Don't DIY Alone: February 5-8th 2009

Don't DIY Alone - a gathering and symposium in Edinburgh 5-8th February 2009 - share skills and create together!

Visit the blog for more details

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Its official, Edinburgh Council are Vandals

The Republic received this letter on what seems to be a premeditated act of vandalism....one in the course of many.... "Having upset a lot of people by cutting down many of the trees in the Grassmarket, the Council’s wood butchers have now turned their attention to Kings Stables Rd.

In the last 2 days a pleasant green outlook from the tenements has been turned into what looks like a first World War battlefield. Practically every tree and shrub on the slope up to Johnston Terrace has been cut to the ground; the few remaining left like telegraph poles.

Does the Council arrogantly assume that locals did not value their view onto trees and bushes, not to mention the rabbits and the birds, including blackbirds which used to sing as dusk fell? Could they not have asked us before wreaking this devastation? Were the trees threatening anyone? What is the reason for this vandalism?

The tenements in the street back onto a yard owned by the Council so we have no back greens of our own. The pleasant view we had over the trees to the Castle was some recompense – but now that has been taken away from us."

Jim Johnson King Stables Road Grassmarket Edinburgh

This article Anger as Trees Cut Down appears today which sadly only tells us what has been lost, what have we gained? Nothing....but perhaps someone somewhere has gained from this act of vandalism..and it won`t be long until this becomes known.

The 2nd person to comment on the article online has asked this question "Or is it something to do with the proposed redevelopment of King's Stables Road and Argyle House?"

Another Allan Murray development???!!!!!!!!!!

Now why would the council order the act of vandalism when this exists in Johnston Terrace Johnston Terrace Wildlife Reserve ? and see more at Gardens of Scotland?

For the history on the reserve see Geddes and Johnston Terrace Patrick Geddes

Monday, 2 February 2009

Product Magazine

In the current issue of Product Magazine is a 4 page article in the Ideas Section -

"The Future Dream is a Shopping Scheme"
by Sergio Burns