A celebration of 50 years of high-rise living in Edinburgh's Moredun multis

Residents of the high-rise flats in Moredun have shared their memories, old and new, of living in the ‘streets in the sky’ as part of a 50 year collaborative celebration of the buildings.

(L-R) Phoebe McKail, Ellie Maughan, Abbie Kelly, Billie Grant

“Tall Tales'', the name given to the project, was initiated by Edinburgh City Council’s family and household support service and was constructed from initial planning meetings and story gathering with local residents.

The brochure style document is wonderfully illustrated and illuminated and contains crafted stories that run alongside a history of the area.

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This is accompanied by poems as well as digital art work that tell a tale of the community.

Trisha Blore now 56 when she was a child in the highrises in the 70's.

The council commissioned a resident writer, Helen Boden, to engage with residents and to gather reflections on what high rise living meant to them.

Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre was used as a base for the project that involved a variety of different organisations as well as individual residents.

Chris Dutton, a support Worker at the council’s family and household support service in the South East, was central to the project.

He talks of how an importance was placed in envisaging a creative project that would allow residents of the area to tell their story in a unique way.

The stats behind the Tall Tales

He said: “During my years providing support to Edinburgh residents, I have met many talented people who have lacked the confidence or knowhow to realise their talents and build upon their strengths.

“It was important for me to engage with as many residents as possible, past and present. I provided everyone living in the six high rise blocks with the opportunity to contribute, in the hope that the project would help connect them to the location.

"It became apparent that the high-rise development at Moredun had been built just over 50 years ago, so this project provided an excellent opportunity to celebrate that fact.”

The council’s family and household support service worked closely with their partners in the Lifelong learning team, Helen Bodden, Goodtrees, Reel Youth Media and the local library to engage on social media with the local residents association and residents to gather stories and insights.

The six highrise blocks of Moredun

Each of the 540 households within the multis were contacted, with residents being invited to attend creative workshops where their experiences were shared.

Helen Boden said: “We construct our sense of identity and community through stories - in the telling and re-telling of them, we connect with others and understand our own lives.

" It was a privilege to hear the stories of Moredun residents past and present, recent, longstanding and transient, and to witness first-hand how seemingly small, individual stories fit into the larger narrative of a time and place. I really hope contributors and all residents will enjoy seeing it.”

The sense of the identity of the community shines through in the comments provided by former and current residents of the six blocks - Marytree, Moredun, Castleview, Forteviot, Moncrieffe and Little France house.

Key topics that arose from resident interviews

Trisha Blore, 56, a contributor to the project, said: “The building of high flats across Edinburgh was a snapshot in time, specific to the 1960s. However, the closeness of the community within each block is still as real and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

"It is important that the memories of original residents, reminiscing of the farming community that we lived alongside is passed to the newer residents of Moredun flats. It puts into context the footprint of the area now and some of the street names came to be.

“I have such happy memories of living in Moredun High Rise. I was delighted to see that the area meant so much to so many other people too. It gave my family a chance to bring out old photographs and reminisce together. The 70’s fashions were also a talking point.

“I think the bringing together of people sharing a common goal in these times is so beneficial. It was wonderful to see the young people of Moredun getting involved at the Goodtrees Centre. They obviously care as much about their area as we did 50 years ago.”

Richard Purvey, who lived in Marytree House until he was 12 years old, said: “Half a century of six unassuming blocks, spanning our childhoods. These were such special and happy childhoods in the ‘70s. The book is amazing and I am so grateful to the person who wrote it. So well put together, couldn’t have been any better.”

Other residents reminisced about summers spent on the roofs with “carry outs” and Trisha remembered a community wide celebration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The Story of Mordeun, January 13 1951.

Scott Wilkins, council Life Long Learning officer, worked with the household support service on the project, he said: “It was vital that the work capture and celebrate an experience of high rise living and that the artwork be shaped and created by local people and that the final product be for local people. The work also needed to portray a sense of a changing place through time alongside contemporary high rise living.

“Tall Tales is a participatory narrative. It is a collection of stories, reminiscences, memories, thoughts and opinions.

“The individual stories capture the variety of lived experience of high rise life and together create a shared community story. Collecting these stories creates a powerful depiction of how this community lives, what they struggle with, what they regard as important, what they celebrate, what they hold and remember.”

Some of those memories were of the “dodgy lift”, house parties in years gone by as well as wild wind battering the higher floors of the buildings.

Scott and Chris both thanked the multiple people and organisations who took part in creating this piece of history.

It is understood that each resident has received a copy of the work and that once restrictions are lifted there will be an event to officially launch the project to a wider audience.

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The history behind each block name
(L-R) Abbie Kelly, Billie Grant
Announcement of homes to be built in Moredun - December 4 1967
Cover picture used for the document that celebrates 50 years of highrise living

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