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Trainspotting’s Edinburgh flats get highest listing protection

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Cables Wynd House in Leith, a Brutalist block of flats featured in Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, has been awarded a Category A listing

A neighbouring block called Linksview House was also listed, signifying both are of ‘national or international’ importance.

Built in the 1960s to the designs of Alison & Hutchison & Partners, Cables Wynd House entered into popular culture as the childhood home of fictional character Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson in local author Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, in which the building is known as the ‘Bananay Flats’, so-called because of their distinctive curved shape. 

Dawn McDowell, deputy head of designations at Historic Environment Scotland, said: ‘In the early 1960s a new, higher-quality and more holistic approach to housing schemes was being pioneered, inspired by housing schemes in France – which aimed to create not just houses but communities.

‘Cables Wynd House and Linksview are amongst the best examples of these schemes, with their use of external access decks as a way of recreating the civic spirit of traditional tenemented streets, and the inclusion of modern features like lifts and heated flooring helping to lift living standards for the residents.’

Catherine Croft, director of The Twentieth Century Society, said: ‘It’s great to see these blocks being given Category A status. It’s a bit of a contrast to the situation here, where Robin Hood Gardens faces imminent demolition and many interesting estates remain completely unlisted.

It’s a bit of a contrast to the situation here, where Robin Hood Gardens faces imminent demolition

‘I’m also interested to see that the role in Trainspotting is recognised in adding to its significance. Our attempts to have 60 Hornton Street [in Holland Park, London], which is more or less a character in Joanna Hogg’s film Exhibition, were unsuccessful, although I felt very strongly that that added another layer to the history of a building built in the 60s, [which was] then interestingly altered in the 1990s.’ 

Croft added that the Scottish system was more successful than the English one in getting buildings listed.

Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting 2, based on Welsh’s novel, was recently released in cinemas.

 

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