In this post, Gorgie Dalry Community Councillor and Treasurer Alex McKendrick reflects on the history of community efforts to save Dalry Community Park, and what the Roseburn to Union Canal Active Travel Route scheme means for this valued local greenspace.
On 6th August 2020, the City of Edinburgh Council approved proposals to progress the Roseburn to Union Canal Active Travel Route and Greenspace Improvement scheme, which includes plans to uplift Dalry Community Park. According to the City Council:
“We’re redesigning the park to renew the existing playpark with equipment for all ages, resurfacing the sports pitch, installing lighting seating and wayfinding, improving landscaping and creating shared-use paths and better access points. The latest project designs build on our consultation with the local community in 2015/16, when 95% of respondents expressed their support for the measures, and subsequent engagement carried out in 2019. Amongst the changes we’ve made to the initial proposals as a result of feedback are the development of a tree protection strategy, improved access points and the increase of path widths to 4m, providing additional space for both pedestrians and cyclists.”
Looking at the Dalry Community Park now, it is hard to believe that it used to be a train station. Dalry Road railway station carried passengers into Edinburgh from 1900 until it closed in 1962 due to low profitability. Many remnants of the original line can still be seen such as the railway platform which now hosts birch and willow trees instead of passengers.
It remained disused land until 1972 with the first play area being created for local children, this was then replaced with a BMX track in 1984. By 1993 this track was replaced with a sandpit play area and a 5-a-side football pitch, finally replaced by multi sports pitch in 1999 as can be seen today.
In 1998 the park came under threat when a developer proposed to destroy most of the land in order to build a superstore car park. Gorgie Dalry Community Council (GDCC) argued against this development at ensuing public inquiry, showing the importance of the open space and large amounts of biodiversity. In 2000 it was found that there were 140 wild plant species and 360 waiting to be identified. 24 species of moss grow in the park with an incredibly rare plant called Weissia rutilans playing an important role in safeguarding the park. The park is also home to many animals from many bird species, squirrels, foxes, a large diversity of insects such as butterflies, bees and beetles. Over 80 species of beetles were found with two only previously being found in Southern England (Polydrusus sericeus and Otiorhynchus armadillo).
The proposed improvements to the park as part of the Roseburn to Union Canal Active Travel Route scheme are just another in a long history of changes. We hope that this opens the park up to the local community by making it a more welcoming place to visit, travel through and play in. We hope that the planned improvements won’t come in the way of the park being a great home to wildlife, trees and plants.
Gorgie Dalry Community Council also received grant funding from the City of Edinburgh Grants – South West to install a memorial bench, dedicated to Mr Bob Saville (1952-2010), who lived locally to the area and was largely responsible for the ecological arguments used to save the park. Professionally, he was one of the best-known experts in biological recording in Scotland, with 25 years of experience. He created and managed the first biological records centre for the Lothians. The data he gathered on wildlife played a vital contribution to the understanding of one of the most obscure and least studied species of insect, the Barkflies (Psocoptera).
GDCC will be organising some new planting and a litter pickup before this improvement project is undertaken, as soon as current restrictions allow us to hold a park clean up. If you would like to take part, or receive updates about Dalry Community Park contact us.