Historic WW2 Lothian wire mill site to become 140-home development

A housebuilder and an estate agent have teamed up on a £35 million housing development being delivered on the site of a historic East Lothian wire mill that was key in Britain’s World War II efforts.

Homebuilder Dundas Estates is working with Rettie & Co to transform a disused industrial factory site into 140 contemporary riverside apartments at the Wireworks development that is billed as being “steeped in Musselburgh’s industrial heritage”.

The partnership sees the two independent firms collaborate on the construction and marketing of the development, which is on a site formerly occupied by Bruntons Wire Mill, with the factory having been completely demolished. The firm produced metal parts and equipment from 1876 and during World War II produced materials and equipment for the aerospace industry.

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It is also thought to be one of the first British manufacturers to employ a high number of women, while the first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic directly – the Vickers Vimy – was fitted throughout with wires made by the firm.

Bruntons Wire Mill dates back to 1876 and played a crucial role in Britain’s World War II efforts. Picture: contributed.

Livingston-based Dundas Estates broke ground on the project in January, with an off-plan sales launch scheduled for spring.

The firm will build 140 apartments, including 11 affordable homes, encompassing one, two and three-bedroom flats – with designs inspired by the factory. Some will have private gardens and balconies.

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Craig Fairfoull, head of sales and marketing at Dundas Estates, said: “Rettie & Co is providing their expertise in both historic and newbuild properties to help us construct and market our Wireworks site, which is steeped in Musselburgh’s industrial heritage.

The Wireworks development will house 140 apartments, including 11 affordable homes. Picture: contributed.

“From the outset of the project, we’ve felt a sense of responsibility to provide the town with modern, high-quality homes which respect the rich history of the site.

“We’ve used the factory as inspiration in all of our designs, incorporating elements such as durable brickwork, superimposed with more contemporary features.”

Rettie & Co is present in Scotland and the North of England, focused on the selling or letting of quality properties.

The firm’s head of new homes Calum Miller said: “The Wireworks apartments have been meticulously and respectfully designed with the industrial heritage of the site in mind.”

Dundas Estates, through a partnership with Tesco, East Lothian Council and NHS Lothian, acquired the site after receiving planning permission to regenerate the former Brunton Wireworks site and neighbouring land in 2008.

The firm is committed through Section 75 payments to contributing up to £400,000 along with the other partners, which will be invested into local schooling and infrastructure.

Mr Fairfoull added: “We are determined to engage positively with the local community and where possible we will look to use local trades and engage in community events. Knowing the heavy investment we will be putting into Musselburgh over the course of construction, we are delighted to be working alongside Rettie & Co. throughout the process.”

The development is helping foster eco-friendly transport with the likes of electric car charging facilities, which will be available throughout the site, and storage for 140 bikes.

Despite trading throughout the 1980s, the wire mill closed down in the following decade, moving the short distance to the Inveresk Industrial Estate and trading as Bruntons Aero Products.

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