Peoples Leith Heritage Centre Project by Sandra Marshall

My Name is Sandra Marshall. A group of colleagues and myself have put together a Community Development Project called the Leith Heritage Centre project. The steering group comprises myself Sandra Marshall (Co-ordinator), Adam McVey (Leith Councillor), Imran Hussein (Solicitor), Alexander Heron (Youth Co-ordinator), Garry Miller (Artist and Community Worker) and Colin MacDougall (Business Expert and Community Worker).
We also have an extended group of supporters/partners which includes The Leith Gallery, Living Memories, Leith, The Leith Business Association, The Arts Complex, The Persevere Community Flat, The Bugle, Bethany, ActiveInquiry, Karen Toscani, Alchemy Arts, Leith Festival, The Himalayan Centre, and Ragged University.


We are also linked with the Leith Museum Project. This project is a community interest project designed to provide a central hub for community activity and we would like to work with all the local community projects to benefit the development of community interaction and people
This presentation includes draft colour sketch plans which give an idea of what we are planning, The building we have in mind for this project is The Old Railway Station building at the foot of Leith Walk, junction of Duke Street. To make sure we are reaching out to the whole community with this Project we have arranged to hold an open day for interested local groups and individuals to view the building on 1 November between 2pm and 5pm at the Old Job Centre Building 1 Leith Walk.
We believe this project could prove to be an essential component in the recovery and development of Leith Community and we really would like to involve everyone we possibly can and would greatly appreciate your input. Please come along, with perhaps one other from your organisation, check it out and let us know what you think and what we can include that would benefit your group or individuals, and the community at large.

We really do look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards.

Sandra Marshall

For Leith Heritage Centre

Email: [email protected]

Tel. No: 07938356936



The evidence that involving every individual and every group within a community in the running of and working of that community improves that community’s future is irrefutable. You just have to look at communities throughout the world that have pulled together, worked together and created a better future for themselves in times of great adversity.
Let’s take some examples near to home that abound at the moment. The Citadel Project that brings Old and Young together has allowed old and young to work together on creative projects that have benefited the older generation and younger generation empowering both groups, bringing understanding and respect between both groups and enriching their lives in a positive way. Look at the example of Leith Festival. Because of the economic times Leith Festival found itself in a very bad position at the end of 2011, however, when it got help from the greater Leith Community the Festival survived and became stronger, managing to run a nearly full festival in 2012 and an even fuller one in 2013.


Heritage is the roots of a community, it is an important part of community life that keeps a community together. However, it is not just the ancient history of the community it is also what is created today that will last into the future and what is planned to be created in the future. Having a heritage creates self-respect, respect for the community area lived in and community connection.

Central Hub

Having a central place that allows people within a community to meet, create, work, support, exhibit, entertain, celebrate their heritage, their combined cultures, their community, their individuality is important as it allows individuals and community groups within a community to have a centre point. A place that they can say that building belongs to us. This community created what lies within that building, That building celebrates who we are it is our heritage that is contained within the walls.

The Project

I and my colleagues are endeavouring to create a central hub for Leith called the Peoples Leith Heritage Centre. The property at the foot of Leith Walk which is commonly known as the Old Job Centre Building but is actually the original Leith Railway Station built in 1902 is the right building for this project because of its central location, size and history. Tom Wallace, an architectural technologist with his own business in Fife, has created sketch plans which outline what we believe the Centre could include. A copy of these plans is provided as an appendix to this document.

On the Ground Floor:

An inter-community café/restaurant/meeting place:

  • People can meet and share ideas, meet support workers, group meetings can take place etc.
  • Individuals can eat at a reasonable cost from early morning to late evening
  • Community Groups like Seikh-San-Jog can have a bigger space to create special events with special menus.
  • Basic Cookery Classes can be taught.
  • Events throughout the Centre and groups working within the Centre can be catered for at a reasonable cost.
  • Individuals can train and gain catering industry skills.


Heritage Centre

Running workshops/seminars/film nights etc. celebrating Leith’s 1,000 year heritage, providing individuals with knowledge about their heritage and the roots of the community, thereby inspiring the community and giving every individual a sense of pride and achievement in their community.

  • Exhibiting history of Leith’s achievements and working in conjunction with the Leith Museum Project and Living Memories Project.
  • Exhibiting aspects of what is going on in Leith at present to celebrate what is being achieved now.
  • As history is made keeping up with it and creating a record into the future of the heritage of Leith.
  • Creating work placements for individuals to learn research techniques.


Community Interest Company Office Space

There are 3-4 Office spaces available on the ground floor and 6 at first floor level catered for in the plans that are intended could be used by Community Interest Companies or Charities as office space at reasonable cost. This would also enable these groups to link up, share ideas, work together and share experience.
There is also an option for these spaces to be shared and for any of the support organisations already within Leith to utilise some of the space to meet clients, do workshops, support group meetings etc. Work placements will be created by the Community Interest Companies.

Arts & Crafts Co-operative Shop

There are two unit spaces available one of which is intended to be a local Arts & Crafts Co-operative shop. This would be the first Arts & Crafts Co-operative in Edinburgh.
The other could be used by perhaps the Community Food Project or another such important Community Interest Company. Again there will be employment created within the shop units.

Circle24 Care & Support Group

Providing a network of individuals with life skills supporting other individuals who require a helping hand, friend, carer etc. Thereafter passing the help on – creating a community family. One of the groups Circle24 will link in with in respect of the above aim is The Leith Time Bank.

Homeless Tours Group

To be run in conjunction with Bethany, Tours of the local area and Edinburgh to be organised by Bethany and run from the Café area. This idea is already being developed and if it comes to fruition will provide another way of providing employment, increasing self-esteem and getting individuals back to work in a creative way.

First Floor Level

Apart from the six office/studio spaces on the first floor it is intended to keep the long gallery very open plan. There is a kitchen at First Floor level with two sinks which artists do require in respect of cleaning equipment. It is also thought that basic cookery classes could be held in this kitchen.

People’s Gallery

A people’s gallery designed to highlight local artistic talent will be located in the long gallery area of the Centre. The People’s Gallery is intended to showcase and exhibit past, present and future artwork from the local community. The artistic community will benefit, (Leith is the starting point and main home of most of the artists and creative people in Edinburgh. It is considered the Left Bank of Edinburgh.), the artistic heritage of Leith will be celebrated and valued and jobs will be created.

Venue Space

The first floor level is absolutely beautiful as it is and can be used for classes, workshops, venue space, conferences, large meeting space, seminar space, market space and really anything else that the local community can use a communal space for.

Grand Staircase

Access to the first floor level is the centrepiece of the whole building being a large grand staircase, with the original features still apparent from the time this building was the main staircase to the railway station.


No plan has been made for the roof area but it is thought to be a flat roof and depending on what the finish is it is thought there may be space for a community roof garden.


The Peoples Leith Heritage Centre is at present set up as a Limited Company limited by shares. We are applying for Community Interest Company status.
This is where a major difference plays a part. We are applying for grant funding to enable the project to pay for the work to create the various spaces allowed for in the plans, pay for the costs for the first year and any other outlays. However in the longer term it is hoped that the Centre will be run by and paid for by the Leith Community itself. It is hoped that this will be achieved by individuals and groups within the Leith Community becoming members and taking shares in the Centre.
It must be noted that by investing and taking shares in the Centre individuals and groups will earn an income – small at the outset but increasing as the Centre gets known and is more widely used. It is hoped the Centre will be used not only by the Leith Community but also by international tourists and individuals who have their history in Leith but live elsewhere in the world. It may also be used as an international venue during the Leith and Fringe Festivals. It may be possible to begin as early as New Year of 2014. Becoming a major venue in Edinburgh will allow investment to come back into Leith, will bring more visitors to this part of the city and the Centre will ultimately be a flagship building for Leith, Edinburgh and Scotland.
The Centre will be the first public building in the UK to be run on a co-operative model.
The important factor is that it will be created by, run by and worked in by the local Leith Community.
Another important point to note is that any revenue earned in excess of costs and payments to shareholders will be re-invested into the Leith Community.

Aims of The Leith Heritage Centre Project:

  • To work for and achieve Community Integration, Inclusion and celebrate Diversity.
  • To work for and achieve Community Support in the Community.
  • To create a Centrepoint for the Community where the Community can celebrate its roots and present and future achievements.
  • To work for a healthier happier Community.
  • To provide employment and work placements for the local Community.
  • To work for investment into Leith Community and to provide for future investment in the local Community.
  • To provide relevant training and education to Local Community individuals and groups.


When Is The Centre To Open ?

At present we are waiting to receive Heads of Terms from the owners of the building but in the meantime Leith Heritage Centre is working towards holding an open day on 19 October 2013 for all interested groups. This is by invitation only but invitations will be sent out to as many groups in the Leith area as possible.
Thereafter we are hoping to have an entry date of 30 November 2013 in order to hold a Christmas market in the building and a few musical events for Christmas 2013 that will involve the Community.
Thereafter at the beginning of 2014 we are hoping to start work on the building to install the kitchen, extra facilities required and make studio and office space. This work should finish around June 2014. The major work will be to the ground floor level and we should be able to hold certain events etc on the first floor level while the downstairs work is going on but we will be able to advise nearer the time.
We are hoping to have the venue space available from the beginning of the Leith Festival next year and will be able to provide venue space for the whole summer from this date.

We are hoping to hold a Christmas market in the building at the end of 2014. We are hoping that the building work will be completed by this time. If it can be arranged, an international concert would be held from the building on 31 December 2014.