EDUCATION: Dalkeith High School

The original the former Dalkeith High School was designed in 1938 by William Scott and opened in 1940, with this addition built by Reid and Forbes in 1956 – 9. A B-Listed building, it lay empty for around nine years, eventually being demolished earlier this year to mixed reviews.

I always loved this building. I used to live in Northumberland and always looked forward to seeing it as I drove between Edinburgh and home. I think it was a great example of 1950s brick modernism with its (albeit cold) metal windows, cantilevered concrete porch and patterned brickwork; the clock tower standing as an imposing monument to education and order. (I assume it succeeded…) It was like a mini Scottish Giles Gilbert Scott, designer of the Battersea and Tate Modern power stations, Cambridge University Library and the red telephone box. Ach weel.

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LEISURE: Hillend Ski Skope

So, as the Reside project draws to a close, now for my top Midlothian architectural choices. Not necessarily the best known structures and buildings, but instead those that have stuck in my mind as I’ve travelled round Midlothian over the months and those that reflect varied aspects of life here. There is, as always, a runners-up list of curiosities including St Nicholas Church Alms House in Dalkeith; Bonnyrigg’s old Scotmid; the Applehouse, Fairfield House; Arniston’s Lion and Elephant Gates; Soutra Aisle; the Sacred Heart Church, Penicuik. The list could go on; go see.

Firstly not a building, rather a very flat structure. Hillend Artificial Ski Slope was threatened with closure in 2010, but the fight to save the centre was the focus of an internet campaign supported by more than 27,000 people and Sportscotland and the Scottish government stepped in last year with £1m of funding to secure its future. I have it on good authority that Hillend is Europe’s longest and most challenging artificial ski slope.

Hillend is a favourite of mine because it reminds me of the chalk figures found across England, particularly the Uffington White Horse, the oldest hill figure in Britain. Hillend is like a modern version; a giant abstract artwork that’s been etched onto on the Pentland hillside to be seen from miles around.

Artwork by Susan T Grant

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School of Fun

This Friday, the final contribution from groups and individuals across Midlothian, before the project bows out with my Artist’s Top Ten (cue Led Zeppelin…) Thanks to all who have taken part in the project and to all who read it!

Exhibition to follow in a few months – details here in due course…

Pupils from Saltersgate School have been creating ‘Saltersvision’ films and animation over the past couple of years with the help of teachers Connie McGrail, John Schofield and Amy Collop.

They recently created the film ‘School of Fun’ to contribute to the Reside project, exploring their favourite activities at sites around Saltersgate, a school in Dalkeith which provides Primary and Secondary education for children and young people with additional learning needs. The artwork featured here is the animated title-page, created using stop-motion animation. It features a plan of the school with the various classrooms which were coloured by pupils according to the teachers’ favourite colours.

Go to to view the film and to view another of their works ‘Twinkle Twinkle’.

Artwork by Saltersgate pupils Adam, Amy, Claire, Kirsten, Kirsty, Leonie, Sarah and Shona.

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Central Stores

“I love the Central Workshops at the Lady Victoria Colliery. They’re not pretty but they have played an important part in the story of mining in Midlothian.

It’s where machinery got mended and made and the museum now uses one of them to store its collections. It’s a big, rugged, tranquil space. I love the dignity of the sleeping machines and the stories our museum guides tell about using them. The workshops used to be full of the sound of engineers and mechanics at work but nowadays it’s quiet, calm and very atmospheric. It’s a really inspiring place and a great monument to men who make things go.”

Alison Shepherd, 54 yrs, Education Support Officer, National Mining Museum Scotland, Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange

Photography by Susan T Grant. See slideshow of building interior here:

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Water tower

“My favourite building is the Water Tower in Dalkeith because this historic landmark has been saved from collapsing into the mists of time by architect Gerry Goldwyre and his wife Susan. They have restored and enhanced the building with great care to create a modern tribute to Victorian architecture. It’s an octagonal structure in that once housed thousands of litres of water. It’s now a house on seven different levels occupied by a couple who love the building.

I lived in Dalkeith for over 20 years and my children went to school there. We regularly used the cycle track which runs close to the Water Tower. Everyone locally is fascinated by it. For me it is a beautiful structure, a fine example of a sensitively renovated listed building and now a weel kent face on the Midlothian landscape.”

Jan Fraser, retired scientific researcher & owner of art gallery and framing business.

Artwork by Damon Kent, Class 6B, Kings Park Primary School.

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Utilised Landscapes

“I drive to my studio in Mayfield every day and often do detours to watch the landscape. Midlothian offers a rich tapestry and I’m glad to be based here. My favourite architecture is the pylons on the moor near the A68. Last winter I exlored and photographed as many different ones as possible. Most days it was cold and windy but the light and rolling landscape were beautiful.

I am interested in how we have shaped and utilised landscapes for our political, economic and spiritual needs. I wondered if there could be any benefit in recycling old transmission towers into ecosystems, replacing lost forests and ever decreasing habitats – instead of scrapping them. Through colonising the structures with native plants I hope to create a positive approach to questions about the beauty, use and sustainability of man-made structures in the landscape.

The sculpture installation ‘Vertical Biotopes’ was shown at the Royal Scottish Academy on Princess Street in February. In 2013 it will travel to an exhibition in Germany. I hope to do a life size version one day.”

Andrea Geile, aged 51, Artist, Mayfield Industrial Estate,

Artwork by Andrea Geile

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Barony House

“My favourite piece of architecture is Barony House, Lasswade because not only is it partially thatched, which is rare in Scotland, and a lovely building in its own right, it has a romantic history because this is where Sir Walter Scott first lived when he got married.

It was designed for Sir John Clerk of Edinburgh’s nephew around 1781. An existing 18th-century cottage was extended with a thatched, bowed drawing room and a tree-trunk porch to create a more rustic, picturesque effect. It has later Victorian and Edwardian additions but much of the earlier work survives.

When I was first married Barony House came up for sale. I had recently published ‘An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Midlothian’ and when I was doing the research I had visited the house and fallen in love with it. It needed a lot of work  and we couldn’t afford it but we considered buying it to split with another couple. In the end it was too big a project for us to take on but was a lovely dream at the time!”

Jane Thomas, aged 47, Author of ‘An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Midlothian’ and Curator, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Artwork by Susan T Grant.

Original photographs © Courtesy of RCAHMS. Licensor

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