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City Observatory and former rubber mill to benefit from over £700,000 worth of investment

Posted: 5th August 2015

Edinburgh’s City Observatory complex on Calton Hill and Castle Mills Works, the only remaining building of what was once Edinburgh’s thriving rubber mill industry, in Fountainbridge, are amongst the latest recipients of Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants scheme.

The observatory and former mill, which received £233,000 and £500,000 respectively, are amongst 8 projects across the country to benefit from a total of £1.6 million worth of funding to restore buildings of significant architectural and historical value.

The Former North British Rubber Factory in Edinburgh is the only remaining physical reminder of what was once a world renowned rubber mill which, for many years, was integral to the expansion of the city and the livelihood of many of its inhabitants. Edinburgh Printmakers, which is a charity that facilitates artist production in fine art printmaking, is proposing to repair and restore the 19th century building.

Edinburgh Printmakers, which is a visual arts charity specialising in fine art printmaking, is proposing to repair and restore the 19th century building to make an internationally recognised centre for excellence in printmaking, a hub for the wider arts and a community resource.

Built in 1818, the complex of buildings which comprise the City Observatory on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill were designed by leading architect of the period, William Henry Playfair. Of great architectural and historical importance, the Observatory also forms an integral part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project, which is a joint initiative between the City of Edinburgh Council and Collective Gallery, aims to repair and restore the buildings to create a new subterranean art gallery for Collective, showcasing contemporary art, as well as a café and event space, opening this iconic landmark up to the public for the first time.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “This scheme helps to protect and promote, as well as transform and bring back into use, some of Scotland’s most historically and architecturally significant structures and buildings.

“Across the country, historic buildings which played an important role in our past also have an important role to play in our future, with schemes such as these helping to tell a new chapter in the building and its surrounding community’s future.”

In October 2015 the new lead public body for Scotland’s historic environment, Historic Environment Scotland, brings together Historic Scotland and The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments (RCAHMS’). The Chair, Jane Ryder said: “As we move towards the launch of this new organisation it’s fantastic to see the continuing commitment from the Scottish Government to invest in schemes which protect some of the most at risk buildings in the country. By doing so they are enabling people to play their part in protecting the heritage on their doorstep as well as contributing to the nation’s extraordinary built heritage.”

The scheme, welcomes applications three times a year, is a competitive process which takes account of the wider benefits that a repair project may provide such as community engagement, promoting sustainable economic and rural development, reinforcing local identity and the development of traditional skills.

Applications are now being accepted for the next round of funding. More information and eligibility criteria can be found at


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