Cowan Institute Penicuik Town Hall
Robin Macfarlan



An initiative of the Penicuik Community Development Trust


On Monday 6 February 2012 the Trust began a 30 year renewable lease on the great brick-built Penicuik Estate Walled Garden. It is the first step in what we see as a 50 year project for food production and garden restoration.










click here to see more of THE LOST GARDEN OF PENICUIK in old pictures

click here for the STORY OF THE LOST GARDEN and how it was made

click here to see more about the work we’re doing now in LOST GARDEN LATEST


See the original 2009 Prospectus for the Food Project Walled Garden Restoration here

See a portfolio of pictures of the walled garden in 2009

For our related Town Centre ideas for the Pen-y-Coe Press see


The first actions on the ground were mapped out in our pre-lease public meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on 24 January 2012, and a walking survey of the gardens on Sunday 5 February.   20 people took part in the first work party on Sunday 4 March for 2 hours in the afternoon, and the following weeks saw more volunteer hours –especially from Peter, Kelman, Mitch, Malte, Christina and Tony.

The First Sunday of every month is being marked by a communal visit to the gardens on foot, meeting at 2pm at the Estate Car Park at Tympany on the Carlops Road. This will be followed by a monthly work afternoon, but weekly work has been taking place on Wednesday afternoons, Thursday mornings, Saturday mornings, Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons, ring 01968 677854 for details.

from an image by Jim Barton     

Every attempt will be made to obtain old pictures, maps, descriptions and inventories of the garden to inform our work. 


It is likely that the brick parts of the garden structures were built by John Dennis, the local brick specialists of Eskbridge and Dalkeith,  who from the 1880s onwards undertook large contracts drawing teams of bricklayers from all over the British Isles. Much of the original brickwork remains to be seen, but the magnificent glasshouses are no more. 

The area we’re working on

The area we’re working on as it once was


On our first small workparty was led by Simon Duffy (an experienced garden project manager) supported by Peter Coutts (well-versed in volunteer garden restoration with the National Trust for Scotland), and was very enjoyable and worthwhile.  Our first work, keeping clear of dangerous ruined structures, concentrates on re-establishing the path and bed areas in the most north west and upper terrace part of the garden: 1,2 and 3 on the map. We have done some preliminary clearance and soil testing here, among the blackcurrant bushes and raspberry canes which we hope to keep.  We are cautiously removing lots of the broken glass which once covered area 2.


Meanwhile Tony Dore, Mitch and Eirlys Lewis, and Daniel Baigrie have made a big start on clearing the walled garden’s main flight of steps.  Kelman Taylor -an experienced building supervisor- who with Tony has continued work to clear the steps- will lead our specialist team on restoring structures and buildings.  The building group will begin with brick stocktaking at 4 and cautious clearing at 5, with a view to securing some of the space and bringing in one or more of the museum storage cabinets from Bank Mill (most of the original stock of 7 have already been dispersed to other charities).  The tree group -when it gets going- will survey the alders in the currently-damp north east section of the upper terrace.


 Next we continued to make ground ready for potatoes. Volunteer workers held a meeting in Penicuik on Tuesday 27 March, confirming our organic intentions and our proposal to all work together rather than subdividing. We’ve nearly finished plot 1 on the plan above and will next cultivate the plot below it to the south.  We have tasks to do at three points in the range of buildings, and will post explanatory signs.  Glass collection, rubble clearance and brick sorting continues.  Our main working days are Saturday (afternoons), Sunday (mornings and afternoons), Wednesday (afternoons) and Thursday (mornings) but you can check first with Roger 01968 677854 or Peter 01968 674514 and teams can take on other times.

Hear about the next steps on the food project -and how you can take part- at any of our Saturday Open House sessions in Penicuik Town Hall 10am-2pm, or Sunday evening weekly Cinema presentations in the Town Hall, or each month on our “First Sunday” Garden walking tours (see above). We’re grateful for the pictures of the garden as first built which are coming forward from the estate and the images from the Wilson family who managed the garden in the nineteen twenties and thirties.  See all these pictures on our

LOST GARDEN OF PENICUIK website, and read the LOST GARDEN STORY here.  The garden famously provided the peaches required for an Edinburgh visit of David, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII). 

Keep checking the latest news of the garden and our growing and restoration work at:


We gratefully acknowledge a £750 small-projects grant from Midlothian Council and many individual donations towards the £4,000 cost of setting up the lease, most of which goes to meet the landlords’ advisers’ costs.


“Potatoes will go in soon but food supplies from the garden will take awhile” –in fact we’ve now taken our first crop and are soon to plant for 2013 see

We’re collecting plant pots and tools for the project meantime.

In the meantime you can get organic Lothian ECO fruit and vegetables, plus eggs, cheese, and most of the usual household groceries, bread from local Breadshare and from The Engine Shed

All at cost price at the volunteer-run Penicuik Saturday Market, 10am-12noon

 Valleyfield House, 17 High Street Penicuik (through the arch and down the drive)     


see much more of THE LOST GARDEN OF PENICUIK in pictures here

Looking back along the long road we took to get to this point :

On Friday 15 July 2011 the Trust’s volunteers met our legal advisers Kirsty Macpherson and Evalyn Lee of Gillespie Macandrew to establish the terms of our acceptance of a 30 year lease of the Walled Gardens above Penicuik House.  We seemed very close to the major step of taking up occupation of the walled garden with a view to Penicuik food production and restoration of the garden’s unique structures and horticultural interest.


Till that point our efforts to take on a lease of the walled garden had taken nearly two years - much longer than expected –but we thought we were nearly there: drawing up the inventory of the condition of garden and  buildings with a view to our occupation before the growing season is over.  But a few more glitches lay ahead.  They are behind us now!


Until that summer of 2011 we have been waiting for Penicuik Estate to produce a lease for our occupancy of the Walled Garden.  PCDT and Sir Robert Clerk have been keen to proceed without delay, the Trust has £750 funding support towards legal costs from Midlothian Council, the estate lawyers Anderson Strathern are standing by and the estate factors Smiths Gore have now drafted Heads of Agreement as a basis for us all to proceed.  The Trust has already converted itself to a Company Limited by Guarantee in order to sign the lease (its charity status and number remain the same).  Last year we looked at our food project and at all the other ways we can help to make our towns more sustainable places to live.  On 14 Feb 2010 Mel Spence spoke about the Midlothian Gardens Project. We looked at where negotiations stand today on the Penicuik Walled Garden. On 14 March 2010 John Forbes from the Energy Saving Trust spoke and we also related our plans to Roslin and other towns along the Esk, to Midlothian Council, and to Transition Towns nearby.

Back in 2009 we met in Penicuik Town Hall on Sunday 8 November to follow up on tasks set at our 11 October gathering there and the site visits  to exchange information on progress and priorities, sketch out the next steps, and how best to work together to

·                    restore the walled garden off Carlops Road at Penicuik estate

·                    increase food growing opportunities all over Penicuik

·                    develop a local produce market

·                    Spread the word about growing and local food

·                    Exploit health and education aspects of local working gardens

·                    Help similar garden projects across Midlothian

·                    Partner schools and other organisations



Cowan Institute Penicuik Town Hall
Robin MacfarlanPower of Community film
Penicuik food project




   We started back on Sunday 26 April 2009 with a public meeting in the Town Hall to explore a community food growing project for Penicuik.  Whether they had youth or experience to offer, or were potential users of healthy local produce, or were on the waiting list for an allotment, or just interested in finding out more, over 50 people came along.  They came to see The Power of Community (a 50 minute film about peak oil and food growing in Cuba) and to find ways for Penicuik to develop a more satisfying and sustainable future.  They looked at prospects for growing food in a general community project in the old upper walled gardens of the Penicuik estate off the Carlops Road, a more particular residents’ example behind the Peebles Road at Alderbank, and at other places in the town.  The meeting was introduced by Roger Kelly, one of the advisers to the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, and speakers included  Bosco Santimano, founder of the Peebles-based food initiative You Can Cook which is active in Beeslack High School


All over the world, community targets are being set. President Obama is leading his nation to a lower carbon future, London’s mayor is aiming to reduce London’s carbon dioxide emissions by 60% and decentralise 25% of its energy generation by 2025. Already in nearly 120 projects around Scotland supported by the Climate Challenge Fund, local groups are working together to devise ways to live better for less, whether by insulation projects, walking buses, micro power generation, and food projects like the Fife Diet (think global, eat local). Many communities have become involved in the Transition Town movement. In Edinburgh, Backgreens are being improved for food and recreation.


The meeting considered increasing food growing in gardens, creating a public growing project and more self-run allotments. Carrying forward projects like the walled garden and Alderbank will need careful negotiation with landowners, sensitivity to neighbours, attention to safety and security, and a lot of hard work.  We showed pictures of points of access and some of the land involved, including aerial views showing each site's extent and context.  Local resident Morag Macdonald described Alderbank and the need for child-friendly outcomes.   Dalmeny walled garden grower Alexis Beddoe explained the advantages of forest gardening and fresh local herbs.  40 people left their names for future contact, keen to take ideas forward and keep up the momentum.  Penicuik Community Development Trust's charitable status can shelter and support the project at least to start with.  Find out more at the Trust's Saturday Open House in the Town Hall, via 677854, and on the project website at that time ( Nowadays you can go to the new website at

Penicuik Community Food ProjectPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food ProjectPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food ProjectPenicuik Community Food Project 

Penicuik Community Food ProjectPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food ProjectPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food Project


South Kirk Penicuik 
Architect: PilkingtonPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food Project
AlderbankPenicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food Project

Penicuik Community Food Project


Four representatives of the Penicuik Community Food Project had a preliminary discussion with the Penicuik House estate factor, Katherine Storrar, and Sir Robert Clerk in Penicuik on Tuesday 26 May.  We touched on project aims, timescales, long-term arrangements,  short-term harvesting and removal  of treecrop, access, water,  structures, security, for the Walled Garden; plus Alderbank and the needs and wishes of residents there.  Roger Kelly arranged the discussion to explore scope for progressing the Project with the estate, following up the public meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on Sunday 26 April.  Roger Hipkin was present as Secretary of the Penicuik Community Development Trust, the constituted charity we'd expect to use -at least initially- for any formal arrangements over the walled garden.  Morag McDonald was there to explore the specific conditions at Alderbank and report the wishes of the adjoining residents in Alderbank and Peebles Road.  And Alexis Beddoe was there to add the perspective of his experience of food production in walled gardens at Dalmeny and Blyth Bridge.


This discussion was a good start, and we can now get down to business.  Preliminary conclusions are these.  The estate is willing to explore taking the project further, looking for a business case and evidence of continuity and long term intentions before negotiating any lease. The estate understands the charity's need for a long lease. There are two elements of the project in the walled garden, food growing and repairing the garden structures in the right way. With this in mind, sensible boundaries for the walled garden project area will be found. The estate will consider ways they might harvest and remove the conifer crop initially. Plenty of water is available at the walled garden. Vehicle access would be at the top, by track from the NW.  Any access top and bottom from the new car park at the Timpany gate would be pedestrian only.  Security has been a problem in the past.  The Project representatives were made aware of the work of therapeutic charity Trellis at Haddo House and elsewhere.  The Penicuik Estate Partners asked for an outline business plan for the Project’s use of the walled garden by 19 June 2009.

As far as Alderbank was concerned, any potential project was dependent on residents' views, and having considered the possibilities the adjoining residents preferred not to proceed with this element and it has been dropped. 


The Food Project was given unanimous support at Penicuik Community Development Trust’s busy open public Annual General Meeting in Penicuik Town Hall on 2 June 2009. Recommendations from the floor included involvement of schools and young people in the project, co-ordination with other Midlothian food and gardening initiatives by Social Enterprises like ours, use of other Penicuik asset spaces in the town (Jackson Street School, Eastfield School, Eskmills Social facilities land (former YMCA) were suggested. Penicuik Town Hall, Jackson Street School and Ladywood Community Centre and schools were suggested for marketing. A mini Farmers Market was suggested as part of the Trust’s weekly open house in the Town Hall.


Under the aegis of Penicuik Community Development Trust a  prospectus  on the walled garden aspect of the food project was put together for Penicuik Estate Partnership, the garden’s landowners and submitted on 19 June 2009.  A qualified but favourable reply from the landowners was confirmed in writing.  The contents of the report were shown in full at a public exhibition in Penicuik Town Hall on 11 July 2009.  More people are encouraged to come forward to offer services in the many aspects of the project as it develops.  July 2009 pictures of the walled garden in its present derelict state are shown here.  Further meetings in the Town Hall, with potential partners, and on-site took place in the autumn of 2009, and a first grant application for £750 to cover startup lease costs was awarded by Midlothian Council in late spring 2010.  The Trust had earlier prepared a business plan for its parallel project at Jackson Street School. This contained proposals for an in-town market.  Sadly these were thwarted at the eleventh hour early in 2010 by Midlothian Council’s demolition of the buildings, and the Trust brought forward a rather different in-town project at Bank Mill to take its place.  The Food Project still awaited agreement on the draft lease from Penicuik Estate Partnership, though both sides are progressing this at the end of 2010.  Not long now we hope!   {unbelievably all this dragged on till 2012 outside the control of the Trust but to our considerable expense} .  Meanwhile we discussed the Project at a Midlothian meeting on Food & Health organised at Loanhead by Ailish O’Neill of NHS in September 2010 and made many useful contacts with potential partners, we have made common cause with other food and garden projects in Midlothian at a meeting at Mayfield in November 2010, and we are holding public workshops in Penicuik Town Hall at 7.30 on Wednesday 15 December 2010.  See


Penicuik Community Development Trust  and the Penicuik Community Food Trust organisers hope to work closely with the Penicuik Estate Partnership, with Trellis the Scottish charity that supports, promotes, and develops the use of horticulture to improve health, well-being and life opportunities for all, with the Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens.and with other charitable groups such as Scottish Native Woods and the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society.


Some different growing and marketing examples? In London in 2002, Abel & Cole developed a non-profit scheme The Farmers Choice to deliver fresh organic fruit and vegetables to schools in London and raise 25% of the money for the schools in the process. 200 schools now take part in receiving the produce and last year they received £90,000.  In East Lothian, East Coast Organics now produce over 2,000 fresh organic vegetable boxes for the Lothian market at Boggs Holdings, Pencaitland.  Penicuik distribution is via the long established non-profit organic and fairtrade food co-op on Saturday mornings at Valleyfield House (now in its 21st year) which proudly helped set up the first Edinburgh box delivery service from Pillars of Hercules in 1996 and worked with organic grower Whitmuir Farm in its early days.



see more of THE LOST GARDEN OF PENICUIK in old pictures here


see the work we’re doing now on in LOST GARDEN LATEST here






TAKING ON THE PRESS –ideas for Pen-Y-Coe Press & Old Post Office, Bridge Street Penicuik 






Penicuik Community Development Trust is responsible for the Lost Garden of Penicuik, Penicuik Food Project, Penicuik Open House, Penicuik Cinema and the Bankmill Project. The Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland with company number 380626 and OSCR charity number SC O37990 and Trustee Directors Roger Kelly (chair), Roger Hipkin (secretary 20A John St. Penicuik EH26 8A ), Jane MacKintosh (treasurer), Dave Stokes, Mose Hutchinson and Penny Wooding, forming part of a Managing committee with Anne-Ruth Strauss, Bill Fearnley, Caroline Maciver, Chantal Geoghegan, Chris Langdale, Daniel Baigrie, Doreen Gillon, Jane Kelly, Katie Sydes, Lynn Niven, Marianne Cortes, Marjory Bisset, Mitch Lewis, Peter Coutts, Simon Duffy, Simon Fraser, Ulla Hipkin, elected annually at the Trust's AGM.   Paid-up Membership of over 200;  Patrons: Ian Macdougall, Gerda Stevenson, Colonel Edward Cowan.  Trust official Website Bank Mill website: The Trust is a Member of Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) takes part in Doors Open Day, and works with Penicuik Community Council, Midlothian Council, Midlothian Voluntary Action, the Midlothian Growing Ideas Partnership (including Midlothian Garden Services, Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust, and other garden and food projects in Midlothian associated with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens), and the Mapa Scotland restoration of the Great Polish Map of Scotland at Eddleston, and supported the papemaking tercentenary led by Penicuik Historical Society.  There are personal and mutually supportive links with Penicuik Community, Sport & Leisure Foundation, Penicuik Community Arts Association, the Penicuik House Project, the Scottish Civic Trust and the Saltire Society, with community groups and trusts in Aberfeldy, Broughty Ferry, Gorebridge and Moffat, with Penicuik’s twin town at L’Isle-sur-la Sorgue , Vaucluse, Provence, with Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec and with the Papeterie St-Armand in Montreal.  





Penicuik Community Development Trust

 Saturday Museum in the Town Hall:

Penicuik exhibitions

A few of the 100 or so Penicuik Open House weekly displays to date



Upcoming events        Earlier events



Penicuik Trust’s fortnightly CINEMA programme



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