By Michael MacLeod
THE first of Sighthill’s four tower-block flats has been demolished in just four seconds.
Former residents watched on in tears and reminisced as forty years of history disappeared before their eyes.
Signalling the end of an era in Edinburgh’s council housing, Broomview House made way for the start of a major £60 million regeneration of the capital’s Eastern gateway.
Hundreds turned out for the demolition, with many getting caked in dust from the falling rubble.
Resident Ian Begg, who lived in the building for its entire 40-year lifespan, pushed the plunger to ignite the explosives.
The 62-year-old retired garage mechanic had mixed emotions about the ill-fated flats.
He lived in flat seven on the ninth floor, second from the top of the block.
He said: “I feel sad but happy too, because they really did have to go.
“I had beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle, the fireworks each year, the ski slope and Corstorphine Hill.
“But over the years I saw the flat falling to bits a wee bit. Once I got stuck in the lift and managed to get a day off work out of it.”
The flats became unpopular with locals in recent years, with Sighthill being locally associated with drugs and crime.
Mr Begg was left as the only resident on the ninth floor.
He added: “It was a wee bit eerie up there on your own.
“There was nights you’d come home and you didn’t know what you were going to find.
“There’s not a lot of appeal in high flats now; there’s no room and you don’t know your neighbours so it’s very isolated.”
Built in 1965, the 46-metre-tall building contained 95 flats and saw over 800 families come and go.
Among those to returned to bid farewell to the place they once called home was Eileen Reed, 62.
The mum of five gave birth to her two youngest children, Simon and Wendy, INSIDE the flats.
She said: “We’ve come back today because it’s part of our family history.
“My daughter is in tears to see it away and I’m quite sad too.
“I suppose it’ll end up a nicer area but we lived there 15-years and it’s very sad to see it go.”
Hailing a successful operation, city housing leader councillor Paul Edie said he was looking to the future.
He said: “Today’s blowdown was a truly spectacular sight and it all went like clockwork which is credit to everyone involved in the operation.
“I know that many people will have fond memories of Broomview Court but now we can look to the future as we drive to create new homes for the 21st century.”