Thursday, 29 April 2010

Don't destroy the Madelvic factory!

                                      The Madelvic electric car

UPDATE May 7th

Short article (slightly garbled) in Building Design:

Fraser slams Maldevic (sic) demolition

6 May, 2010

By David Rogers

Architect Malcolm Fraser has spoken out against plans by Edinburgh Council to demolish the listed Maldevic electric car factory in the Granton area of the city to make way for new houses.

                                                                     Malcolm Fraser

Council-owned developer EDI has (had?) linked up with the Burrell Company to convert the factory, which opened in 1898, into apartments and commercial space. The developers will retain its office block but demolish the main factory building.

Fraser said it should not be demolished and added: “Is it the case that, in a recession, any listed building can be sent for landfill?”

 Read more:

UPDATE 30th April

Madelvic in the Guardian, excellent piece by Tom Allan

 A request has been made (by me) to have the factory placed on the Scottish Buildings at Risk Register:

(Also of course there is the sad loss of most of the historic interest of this piece of motoring heritage in Glasgow. )

It's a worry, is Scotland, and failure to really protect listed buildings.  Cynical of me I know, but it does seem that it's so easy to override national policy...

Original post

The Madelvic Factory production block at Granton, Edinburgh, is under threat of demolition.  This is the oldest remaining purpose-built car factory in the UK; it may be the oldest in Europe. It dates from c1898. Alongside the small office block (not currently under direct threat) this is an important piece of historic industrial architecture.

Listed building description:

Requests for the permission to demolish by City of Edinburgh Council to be called in by the Scottish Government (Historic Scotland objected to the demolition, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and SAVE Britain's Heritage all sought a call-in, arguing that not all avenues for retention and re-use have been explored and it is believed that  national policy has not been fully followed or taken into account) have been refused. This is a worrying situation, and this really should have been fully explored at an inquiry.

Urban Realm has taken up the story, and published yesterday and today two articles, one with the background, the other multi-award-winning Edinburgh architect Malcolm Fraser making a passionate plea for retention and re-use, if not with the scheme his practice has already designed then for another scheme.

I agree; landfill should not be an option, and the building should be properly mothballed and secured until such time as the market picks up again and viabilty of a re-use scheme can be looked at further.

Listed buildings should not be so lightly disposed of. Sadly, Edinburgh Council seems to see them not as an asset but a nuisance which get in the way of development.

And so our shared history and national heritage is wiped out, historic landmarks razed, because it's more convenient than imaginative re-use, and of course the profit motive is more important to some than those wider issues. No it's not a 'pretty' building, that's not always the point;  it is certainly of historic importance.

Urban Realm reports:

and as Malcolm Fraser says:

“But the buildings are not dropped yet! And if there is any specialist developer out there who is interested, come and see me, and we can approach the site’s owner together.”

The Granton History Group has an excellent website detailing the interesting history of the Madelvic car and factory:

 Secret Scotland:


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