From Abandoned School to Thriving Community Hub: The Transformation of Craigmillar Primary School
30 January 2024
In the heart of the Craigmillar Community lies the once-forgotten former Craigmillar Primary School, a building that has witnessed a fascinating journey of transformation since 2003. Originally planned for demolition to make way for affordable housing, the school's destiny took an unexpected turn, thanks to the efforts of the Community and a vibrant mural that spoke volumes about its historical importance.
The turning point came when the local Community, recognising the importance of a mural dating back to 1935 by the talented John Maxwell, fought to preserve the building's heritage. The Community's plea did not fall on deaf ears, and the Planning Department granted a Grade B listing, changing the course of the redevelopment plans. Suddenly, the focus shifted from demolition to restoration, creating the need for funding sources to breathe new life into the old school.
In September 2006, the rebirth of Craigmillar Primary School was complete. In its place emerged SPACE – the Craigmillar Social Enterprise and Arts Centre, a testament to the power of Community-driven initiatives.
SPACE has become much more than just a building; it is a thriving hub where we host charities, a children’s theatre company and much more. The relationships that have formed among the occupants have not only benefit their businesses but, more importantly, serve the needs of their Customers.
One thing that that captures the hearts of visitors to SPACE is the presence of two golden residents in the reception area – Paul and Astrid. The goldfish have become a key part of the SPACE experience. This unexpected chapter in the building's story began when a commercial property in the city centre was repossessed, leading to the adoption of an abandoned goldfish discovered in the basement. Naming her Gloria, a nod to her resilience, she found a new home at SPACE, bringing an unexpected positive impact from the moment she arrived.
The tale of Gloria paved the way for the introduction of more fish friends, and now Paul and Astrid bring joy to both adults and children who visit the centre. This simple yet heartwarming story is a small-scale representation of the story around the former Craigmillar Primary School's transformation – a journey that went beyond bricks and mortar to create a vibrant, interconnected Community space.
Today, the Craigmillar Social Enterprise and Arts Centre stands as a testament to the resilience and vision of a Community that fought to preserve its history and repurpose a neglected building. From the echoes of children in a dining hall to the collaboration of diverse organisations, SPACE has truly become a place where history meets innovation, and where unexpected friendships flourish.