Factories and tenements will join Trainspotting flats on list, says heritage boss


LISTING Edinburgh’s Trainspotting flats is just the start of a process that will see factories, social housing and tenements saved for posterity in the next few years.

Barbara Cummins, director of heritage at Historic Environment Scotland has said that non-conventionally attractive properties would be listed, in order to celebrate “all of Scotland’s story.”

Cummins admitted there had been mixed “feedback” over the decision to list the so-called “Banana Flats”, the home of ‘Sick Boy’ in the Trainspotting book and movie.

But she defended the decision, comparing Cables Wynd House in Leith to Victorian tenements, which were criticised as ugly decades ago.

Cummins said that to only recognise conventionally beautiful buildings would exclude much of the country’s “rich and proudly diverse heritage.”

Banana Flats

She said: “Whilst castles and palaces are very important, there is a lot more to Scotland’s heritage.

“That means listing buildings like pubs, factories, tenements, and social housing, in order to tell all of Scotland’s story – and to celebrate it.

“If we only recognised conventionally beautiful buildings we’d be excluding much of Scotland’s rich and proudly diverse heritage.

“Beauty is, as the saying goes, in the eye of the beholder. Let’s not forget that Victorian buildings were much-maligned a few decades ago and couldn’t be pulled down quickly enough. Now they are some of the most loved buildings in our communities.”

To be listed, a building must be of ‘special’ architectural or historic interest.

Some Leith residents have criticised the listing of the “Banana Flats”, as a romanticism of the area, created by Trainspotting.

David Henderson, a former mental health and addiction worker in the Leith area, said he “couldn’t get” the decision to list the flats.

He said: “For a lot of people, these flats have caused a lot of misery. They are made of the cheapest material, so making them into something glossy? I’m sorry, I just can’t get it.

“Trainspotting is a great movie but in the cold light of day, people are scratching their heads. I think’s a cameo effect, there’s a romanticism.”

David, now 55 and living in London added: “I’ve had clients in there, it was notorious. It has contributed to the community but not in a good way.

“Will they now list the toilets at Hunter Square, or Wester Hailes?”

A petition to reverse the decision was even set up on Change.org .

The petition, set up by Edinburgh resident Alexander Kirwin states: “The Decision to make Cables Wynd House an A-list world heritage site was a terrible idea that should be reversed for a lot reasons: major crime problems, horrible architure, and being poorly maintained by City of Edinburgh Council.”

Alexander said: “It’s an embarrassment to the city and has brought nothing but misery to people of Edinburgh.

“The only reason Irvine Welsh wrote about it was because of its history with drugs and poverty.”

Other post-war buildings to be awarded listed status by Historic Enviornment Scotland include the Forth Road Bridge, a Scottish Widows Office and Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh, a swim centre in East Kilbride, and a church in Cumbernauld.

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