Madelvic Car Site’s New Chapter

by Scott Douglas

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

A pioneering car firm, which once helped put Scotland on the car-making map, is entering its final chapter -100 years after the venture ran out of steam.

The long-neglected derelict former Madelvic Car Factory building has become an eyesore over the years. It is now being pulled down in a bid to re-invigorate a lost piece of Edinburgh’s heritage.

Despite being one of Britain’s first-ever car factories, Madelvic has been long-forgotten. But now Waterfront Edinburgh hopes to leave a fitting tribute to the history of the site.

The site is derelict– the last owner was United Wire who bought the building in 1925. And now, as part of the £1billion regeneration of Granton Waterfront, it is to be transformed from its current state to a bustling development.

And while Waterfront Edinburgh, who is one of three landowners involved in the 15-year project to deliver 8,000 homes and thousands of jobs to the area, is keen to bring the site into 21st century with its partner Buredi, it is also eager for the historical significance to be marked.

Waterfront Edinburgh will apply for a demolition warrant to take down the derelict buildings and build a mixed use development which will include commercial and residential units on the site.

Waterfront Edinburgh is going to ask the community how it would like the site, which produced electric cars between 1898 and 1908, remembered. At the moment it plans to erect a plaque and call the new building Madelvic House.

Steve Cardownie, Councillor for the area who is Chairman of the Board at Waterfront Edinburgh, welcomed the move and said it signaled the start of a new era in the regeneration vision.

He said: “There is a lot of history steeped in the car factory and it is great we are talking about it again.

“Unfortunately the building has lain derelict for some time and it is not viable to refurbish it and return it to its former glory. It is of no real architectural value. What we can do is move on – by demolishing the existing parts of the building we can use the site for an exciting new development.

“This new development will mark the historical significance of the site. But at the same time as remembering the past it will also allow massive steps into the future.”

It was opened in 1898 by astronomer William Peck. Unfortunately the electric power cars it built proved unpopular and the factory shut in 1908.

The former factory stored torpedoes during World War 1. It was given B-list status in 2000 for its industrial, not architectural, heritage. The site was sold by Waterfront Edinburgh to Buredi, a joint venture between EDI Group, Burrell Company and Outlook Housing Association, in 2004. Since then it has examined possibilities for redeveloping the site. It was unable to justify converting the buildings and Waterfront Edinburgh is now applying for a demolition warrant for the buildings.

Steve added: “The derelict site has unfortunately become an eyesore for people in the area. Homes look directly onto it which is unpleasant.

“Derelict land does not tie in well with the regeneration plans we have for Granton; it gives off a very negative vibe and may well be putting off potential investors. By moving on we are really taking this project in the right direction – taking this project forwards whilst remaining true to the heritage of the area.

“Waterfront Edinburgh endeavours to retain as much of Granton’s rich history as possible. There are exciting plans in place for the refurbishment of the lighthouse, as well as the customs house on West Harbour Road.

“We are committed to the revitalisation of contaminated and brownfield land for residential, commercial, retail, cultural and hotel use that will reconnect the city with a stretch of waterfront lost to the community for decades. Developing this site is a key part of that.”

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