Custom House Feasibility Study Released

Custom House Exterior

Custom House Feasibility Study Released

Home > Custom House Feasibility Study Released


Scottish Historic Building Trust (SHBT) has released its feasibility study for Custom House, Leith, recently completed with Richard Murphy Architects. SHBT’s proposal sets out the vision for the building as a mixed-use community and creative hub with opportunities for heritage display, securing the future of this landmark building while making it open, accessible, and sustainable for everyone to enjoy. 

The preferred development option for a £15m capital project will enhance the existing fabric and services to become more energy efficient, using renewable sources where possible. The proposed improvements will create a welcoming and inclusive entrance to Custom House where there will be a series of flexible community and heritage display spaces as well as creative business accommodation, generating income to ensure a sustainable future for the building. 

Custom House The Long Room

Custom House is one of Leith’s most distinctive Georgian buildings and a reflection of the town’s status as Scotland’s premier port for over six centuries. It has the unique potential to become a cultural landmark and focal point that celebrates the heritage of the community of Leith. 

City of Edinburgh Council appointed SHBT in 2015 to carry out a feasibility study exploring options for creating a sustainable future for the building which had been closed to the public for many years and used as a store by the National Museum of Scotland, gradually falling into disrepair. 

Since then, the charity has been working with the community of Leith to develop a shared vision that will secure the long term future of the building within the heart of the community. During that time, SHBT has transformed Custom House into a vibrant creative hub, providing a temporary home for a wide range of artisans and artists to work collaboratively, as well as providing community space for use and a venue for the Leith Market. 

The feasibility study proposals have been informed by a formal community consultation exercise which called for spaces for classes, events, and activities, cultural spaces, rentable work studios, and space for permanent and changing exhibitions linked to the history of Leith. 

Now, SHBT is seeking feedback on its proposed community and creative hub. Let us know what you think of our plans for Custom House, and tell us how you would use the exciting new spaces, by filling in our short survey. 

Keep an eye out on our Events Page for information on visiting the building in person and having a chat with the team about the building’s future.

Comment on our Feasibility Study

Give us your thoughts on the proposals for Custom House

Tron Kirk to re-open to the public

A view of the Tron Kirk looking down the Royal Mile

Tron Kirk to re-open to the public

Home > Tron Kirk to re-open to the public


The City of Edinburgh Council has handed the keys of the Tron Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to Scottish Historic Buildings’ Trust (SHBT) as the new custodians of the building. The council selected SHBT as its preferred partner to restore the Tron in 2021 and the charity has now signed a 5 year lease in an agreement that will see it take on the management role of the building as it develops the restoration project. This will convert to a 125-year lease when the capital project is ready to begin.

Scottish Design Exchange (SDX), the social enterprise company that offers retail outlets for Scotland’s artists and makers, will occupy the Tron as SHBT’s tenant while the Trust undertakes a feasibility study to set out a future vision for the building, working with the local community to develop a sustainable use.

SDX, which has shops in George Street in Edinburgh, and in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow, will offer space in the Tron to artists from across Scotland to sell their work. The indoor marketplace will open on 1st July.

The Tron Kirk exterior on the Royal Mile
Colin McLean Photography

Chair of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust Maggie Wright said:

“Scottish Historic Buildings Trust is privileged to be working with the City of Edinburgh Council to reopen the Tron Kirk, which has been a part of the Old Town of Edinburgh since the 17th century. We are delighted to welcome SDX to this much-loved Edinburgh landmark. Their tenancy represents a ‘meanwhile use’ of the building and will provide an engaging space for locals and tourists to explore as we consult with the community on its long-term future.”

“Our partnership with SDX continues SHBT’s connections to the creative industries. Our work at Custom House in Leith has seen the building transformed into a vibrant creative hub, providing a temporary home for a wide range of artisans and artists to work collaboratively while the restoration project is developed.”

SDX’s proposal to use the Tron Kirk as an indoor market space for local Edinburgh artists will showcase independent artists and designers from the area to both tourist traffic and locals, who will sell a variety of products varying from original art, glass, ceramics, jewellery and woodwork. With exciting ideas around stalls, fundraising and exhibition space, the group’s creative outlook will be an asset to the Old Town of Edinburgh.

Councillor Mandy Watt, Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

“Together we’re securing the future of Edinburgh’s historic Tron Kirk and I’m delighted to see the keys handed over.

“This is a building which has withstood centuries of change. It has survived the Great Fire of Edinburgh and two World Wars. In recent years, however, it has been at serious risk of disrepair.

“Scottish Historic Buildings Trust has an excellent track record of preserving buildings like this. Their work securing sustainable futures for Riddle’s Court in the Old Town and Custom House in Leith are two great examples.

“I’m confident they will do the same with the Tron Kirk, which has acted as a gathering place for the people of Edinburgh for almost 400 years. It’s great that we’ll see this tradition continue when doors reopen on 1 July for an indoor market space.”

CEO of Scottish Design Exchange Lynzi Leroy said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to bring local artists and designers to such a well-loved historical building at the heart of the Royal Mile. The Scottish Design Exchange has been helping artists from all over Scotland to showcase their work since 2015, and we know that their products are loved by locals and tourists alike.”

SDX will open the doors of the Tron Kirk on 1st July 2022, and further updates will be available here on our website.

The Tron Kirk Project

Learn more about the ongoing restoration project of the Tron Kirk, as well as the building’s history spanning nearly 400 years.

Visit our project page

Visit the Tron Kirk

Read more about what’s happening at the Tron before the restoration project and organise a visit to the market.

Learn more about SDX

New Perspectives on the Country House Lecture Series

Strathleven House from above

New Perspectives on the Country House Lecture Series

Home > New Perspectives on the Country House Lecture Series

As we enter the spring and summer seasons, when country houses re-open their doors to visitors, SHBT is offering a short series of free lectures with a slightly different take on the country house in Scotland. From the impact of urbanisation, hidden histories and new insights from state of the art technology, there’s plenty to uncover no matter what your interest.

Niddrie Marischal House - JL

From the Country House Estate to the Council Scheme

This lecture looks at the increasing importance of industry, particularly extractive industries like coal, as a component in the economy of the country house estate as far back as the seventeenth century. As the scale of this increased, the estate and often the house itself was threatened by the very source of the wealth that (literally) underpinned it. That process was often combined with urbanisation that also encroached on and threatened the country house. As the country estate, for complex economic and social reasons started to decline in the early twentieth centuries, many estates became available for housing, often municipal housing.

The lecture takes a wide view across lowland Scotland but also focuses on two case studies, the Hamilton Palace estate around the town of Hamilton, and the Niddrie Marischal estate in what is now the Craigmillar district of Edinburgh.

Dupplin Castle

Projects, plans and politics – a Scottish tour by Lord Mar and James Gibbs in 1712

In 1712 the architect James Gibbs (1682-1754) accompanied his friend and patron, the 6th earl of Mar, on a tour of Scottish estates providing designs and advice to potential patrons. Mar also entertained several leading members of the Scottish aristocracy at his house in Alloa that autumn. At this date Mar was seeking support for a dissolution of the Treaty of Union of 1707, and testing opinions about a Stuart restoration. His campaign of persuasion involved not just architecture and landscaping but also infrastructure improvements.

The tour supplies important new evidence: currently little is known about Gibbs’s activities following his return from studying in Fontana’s studio in Rome to London in 1708 up to 1713, in which year he was appointed a surveyor for the construction of The Fifty New Churches in London.

Strathleven House from above
Turkey Red Media

Ghosts of Strathleven: Colonial History and Approaches to Heritage

Thomas F. Gieryn eloquently wrote that buildings ‘are forever objects of (re)interpretation, narration and representation’; their walls hold stories of our past. Strathleven House was owned by James Ewing, enslaver and MP for Glasgow, and his heirs, and contains histories of colonial exploitation and the legacies of slavery.

This talk investigates some of these stories, challenges accepted narratives, and searches for approaches to heritage which recognise this past. As part of this, the talk will look at approaches taken by other organisations and consider how these can be applied to Strathleven House and other projects more broadly. 

Dalkeith Palace Scan

Technology and the Country House: Understanding Design and Materiality with Drones, LiDAR and 3D Scanning 

Advancements in digital technology and the removal of high entry costs have made LiDAR, 3D scanning and UAV/drones more accessible and easier to use in studying the country house.

In this talk, Daniel Bochman discusses how archival country house research can be complemented by digital technologies. Utilising his own research at Dalkeith Palace and Drumlanrig Castle as examples, Daniel analyses how digital technology can deepen our understanding of country house and estate design – and can point us towards the illumination of hidden material details. 

Join our events

Book onto our free events via our Eventbrite page

Win a Wedding ceremony

Custom House Wedding Ceremony in the Gallery

Win a Wedding ceremony

Home > Win a Wedding ceremony

This competition is closed

This competition closed on 14th March 2022. For more information on all our wedding venues, please visit

Win a wedding ceremony at one of our venues

We know how hard the last few years have been, and that there are so many couples out there who are thinking ‘let’s just get married!’ – so if you are looking for a wedding ceremony in 2022, then we have a great opportunity for you.

You can win a wedding ceremony at Riddle’s Court, Custom House or Strathleven House (one winning couple per venue). All are beautiful and unique in their own ways, from the city centre in Edinburgh to the creative hub of Leith, and a restored Palladian mansion in Dunbartonshire.

What can you win?

  1. The prize for this competition is a wedding ceremony at one of our venues – there will be three winners: one for Riddle’s Court, one for Custom House and one for Strathleven House
  2. Ceremonies must take place in 2022, on a Monday-Friday with dates subject to availability
  3. The prize covers the venue hire for a 2 hour wedding ceremony, all onsite furniture and decoration, and event staff time
  4. Drinks and canapes can be provided after the ceremony for an additional cost
  5. Any additional furniture/linen can be provided for an additional cost
  6. The ceremony can form part of a larger celebration where the venue can accommodate it (such as a full wedding or extended drinks reception) and the value of the competition prize will be deducted from the total cost
  7. For Riddle’s Court only: a two-night stay in the King’s Chamber can be added on, subject to availability, at an additional cost
  8. Capacities for the ceremony or additional wedding celebrations may vary between venues

The competition closes on the 14th March. For a copy of our full Terms and Conditions, click here.

To enter:

There are three ways to enter this competition and win your wedding ceremony:

  1. When enquiring via our website, remember to quote ‘SHBTCEREMONY’ in your enquiry for a chance to be entered into the competition
  2. Visit our social media channels and follow the instructions there

Enter Now

Enquire via our dedicated weddings website for a chance to win your wedding ceremony!

Our Commitment to the Climate Emergency

Knockando Cottage Restored

Our Commitment to the Climate Emergency

Home > Our Commitment to the Climate Emergency

The Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) recognise the current climate emergency and are committed to doing what we can to play our part in mitigating the effects of Climate Change.

Knockando Cottage Restored
Knockando Woolmill Trust

In addressing climate change SHBT are starting from a great position as our stated objective is already to appropriately repair and repurpose traditional buildings securing their future and therefore all of the embodied energy within the building fabric.

We acknowledge that we are not building scientists at the cutting edge of technological innovations but our knowledge of the traditional built environment and historic building fabric is second to none. How we implement change to our traditional buildings, incorporating energy efficient fabric upgrades or renewable energy technology, will continue to evolve as best practice develops and new technology becomes available. It is a continual learning process for us and one that we aim to embrace in full.

Riddle's Court Children of Cowgate admire the building work

Whilst we learn however, we will not sit idle. It is incumbent on ALL of us to effect some change to mitigate our impact on the planet; change in the way we live; change in the way we work; change in the way we approach our built environment; change in the way we consume the worlds resources. What we know for sure is that doing nothing is NOT an option. Some changes that we will need to make will be difficult, uncomfortable even, and take time to implement; others may be simpler and can be incorporated in our lives straight away.

As the Macro changes that will undoubtedly be required are implemented over time, SHBT will continue to commit to undertaking any micro changes that we can, such as adopting new and sustainable working practices within our organisation, transitioning to a sustainable supply chain, reducing our carbon footprint and use of energy wherever possible, and encouraging our staff – our greatest asset in tackling climate change – to address all of these issues in both their professional and personal lives.

Riddle's Court installation of sandstone roundels

Sometimes the global challenge confronting us can seem too great for us to be able to tackle and that climate change can only be resolved through governmental intervention. It has, however, been clearly demonstrated that the small changes that we can make day to day, individually and collectively, can and will make a significant difference. We at SHBT are keen to rise to that challenge and play our part.

Whilst we continue to learn let us all continue to make the changes we can and together we will make a difference.

SHBT to take over the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The Tron Kirk Spire

SHBT to take over the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Home > SHBT to take over the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh Council has given the green light to the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) to take forward a project to restore the much-loved Tron Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

This is the third major project that SHBT has undertaken in partnership with the Council in recent years to provide a sustainable future for historic buildings at risk in the capital city – the Others being Riddle’s Court near Edinburgh Castle and Custom House in Leith.

SHBT will now develop a feasibility study to set out a future vision for the Tron Kirk with SHBT taking a 125-year lease on the building. In the interim, SHBT will fulfil a management role for the Tron Kirk liaising with all existing and new tenants to make sure that the building is open for business as soon as possible.

The Tron Kirk Exterior

Councillor Rob Munn, Finance and Resources Convener, said:

“It’s great news that Committee was unanimous today in agreeing such a positive future for this historic landmark building in the heart of our Old Town. We’re very much looking forward to taking this project forward now with SHBT, which has an impressive track record as a Building Preservation Trust and Charity.”

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Finance and Resources Vice Convener, said:

“The SHBT have proven to be extremely effective in recent years working in partnership with the Council to provide a secure, viable and sustainable future for other historic buildings at risk, such as Riddle’s Court and Custom House. The Tron Kirk’s future is in good hands.”

Chair of Scottish Historic Building Trust, Maggie Wright said:

“We welcome the committee’s decision to partner with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust to secure the future of Tron Kirk which has had a significant role for the people of Edinburgh since the mid-17th century. It is a huge vote of trust in the expertise of our director and staff. We share the City of Edinburgh Council’s vision to breathe new life into this very special building and use our experience to create a legacy for generations to come.”


Tron Kirk was commissioned by Charles I to house the congregation displaced when he made St Giles a cathedral in 1633. It was constructed between 1636 and 1647 and was first consecrated in 1641. It afterwards became known as ‘Christ’s Kirk at the Tron’ due to the presence of the ‘salt-tron’ – a public weighing beam – just outside the church.

We know a fair bit about the building project as the original Chamberlain’s Accounts survive. It was designed by John Mylne, the Royal Master Mason, with a mix of Palladian and Gothic elements. The original hammerbeam-style roof, with a sexfoil pattern, survives. This is extremely rare and was designed by the Royal Master Wright John Scott, who was also responsible for a similar roof at Parliament Hall.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met in the Tron from 1830-1840. The interior was re-fitted by Robert Rowand Anderson in 1888, including a new gallery and pulpit. The Victorian stained glass windows were possibly added at this time

In 1952, the congregation moved to a new church and the City of Edinburgh Council acquired the building. For a number of years, the building was empty and all of the interior features were stripped out. In 1974 the floor was removed and excavated, revealing the paved surface of the 16th-century street Marlin’s Wynd and the foundations of the buildings on either side of it. According to Edinburgh World Heritage, this is the earliest paved street in Scotland. The steeple was restored by Andrew Renton in 1974-6.

The Tron is known as the traditional centre of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. Celebrations at the Tron developed naturally as a result of its central positioning on the Royal Mile and South Bridge – a primary junction between the Old and New Towns. This stopped in 1993 with the inauguration of the official Hogmanay celebrations, organised by the City of Edinburgh Council, which moved the focus of the celebrations to Princes Street.

From the late-1970s onwards the Tron was in continual sporadic use. It was in use as a visitor information centre in 2003 when it was added to the Buildings at Risk Register. Edinburgh World Heritage were first associated with the building in 2011, with the idea of using the building as a ‘World Heritage Site’ information centre (focusing on Edinburgh Old and New Towns, with additional information about Scotland’s other UNESCO sites). In 2018 Edinburgh World Heritage Trust officially occupied the building, opening their ‘Our World Heritage’ exhibition. This was operated in conjunction with other uses including John Kay’s book shop, the Scottish Textile Showcase and the Edinburgh Welcome ticket desk. In March 2020, the Tron closed due to Covid-19 regulations, and in December 2020, Edinburgh World Heritage vacated the building.

For more information:

Follow our journey

Keep up to date with our project information and learn more about the Tron Kirk’s history via its project page.

PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court returns to the Fringe and announces its 2019 line-up

Performers at Riddle's Court during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court returns to the Fringe and announces its 2019 line-up

Home > PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court returns to the Fringe and announces its 2019 line-up

PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court (venue 277) has a jam-packed and vibrant programme of entertainment with more than 75 top-quality events including shows, workshops, talks and stand-up comedians planned for this August, as it heads into the second year of its five-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe partnership with the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.

PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court is located in a prime position off the top of the Royal Mile. The fully accessible venue’s friendly staff, free Wi-Fi and phone charging stations, alongside the relaxing café bar within the unique 16th century courtyard, proved to be a hit with Fringe audiences last year, with it being presented with the ‘Best Venue’ accolade by Theatre Weekly website. This year, exciting additions to the courtyard include comfortable all-weather yurt seating areas and a global range of street food.

Pauline Quirke at Riddle's Court for the Edinburgh Fringe

In a nutshell, here are the delights in store for Fringe-goers at PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court in 2019:

One of many shows with a Scottish connection, and befitting of Riddle’s Court’s proximity to Edinburgh Castle, Iain Smith’s My Finest Hour tells a funny and heartwarming story of his grandfather, a Scottish war hero, whose painting hangs in the Castle. Para Handy: A Radio Play on Stage (No Nonsense Productions) returns due to popular demand, with Neil Munro’s classic tales performed as a 1950s radio broadcast with live sound effects created by the cast and audience. Other home-grown talent includes Edinburgh-based Paradigm presenting Madison Pollack’s new play Pink House looking at a woman’s take on belonging and tradition, an updated version of Scottish comedian Davy Mitchell’s show Irony?, Marie Koehler’s acclaimed play Boswell (MHK Productions/Rhymes With Purple), Fiona Henderson School of Dance’s show-stopping One Singular Sensation and Jason Robert Brown’s acclaimed musical The Last Five Years (Q Productions) which returns after a sell-out run in 2018, and stars local Edinburgh MGA Academy of Performing Arts talent Connor Burnett and Lori Davidson. Monsters: A New Musical (Paisley’s Take the Leap Productions) sees Antony Irwin’s contemporary reimagining of horror characters such as Dracula, his brides and Frankenstein.

New musical theatre writing is further championed with Courage Calls to Courage: The Suffragist Musical by Suzanne Hawkes, looking at the struggle for the vote between Emmeline Pankhurst’s Suffragettes and Millicent Fawcett’s Suffragists (Black and White Productions). Alexander Abbott’s new musical The Room(Cromus)seesa girl alone in a room – why is she here, and what’s her story?

Productions exploring mental health, trauma and the darker side of relationships, include Samantha Pressdee: Covered,Monogamy (The Inevitable Theatre Company), Contractions (Thomford Theatre), Suicide Pact (Acidflashback Productions), Bear Pit and Void (both by Elvin Acting Theatre Company) andpoet and comedian Dan Webber in Genre Fluid.

Acclaimed international artists include There She Is (Gabriela Flarys, Brazil), Marx in Soho (The Marx Sisters / Nu Sass Productions, USA)The Best Show We’ve Ever DoneAt The Edinburgh Fringe (The Fish Girls, Australia), The Silent House (Iran Saye Theatre Group), Brown Guys Grey Skies (DeepuDileepan and Sundeep Bhardwaj, Luxemburg),I Went to Barcelona And All I Got Was This Lousy Comedy Show (English Comedy in Barcelona, Spain), James Stellos’s one-man play, tEMPORARYsANITY(USA)family drama Mama’s Eggnog (Before You Think Productions, USA) and Lavinia Savignoni’sThe Perfect Body (La Loba Productions/Rhymes with Purple, Italy).

A number of productions tell – or reimagine – the stories of well-known figures, real or fictional, including the Brontë sisters in More Myself Than I Am (Eleventh Hour Theatre), Douglas Adams in We Apologise for the Inconvenience (5064 Productions)the notorious serial killer Ed Gein in Under the Floorboards (Simon Shaw), Dancing in the Moonlight – A Play About Phil Lynott (Miles Mlambo), Wuthering Heights through a child’s eyes (Be Amazing Productions)andPuppet King Richard II (Pocket Epics).

In further unmissable drama, following their success at last year’s Fringe with five-star show After Today, Stage D’Or return with two new plays from acclaimed playwright Tim Connery, Hitman and Her and The Legacy of William Ireland.The Passion of the Playboy Riots (The Playboy Rioters)tells the true story of the role played by theatre in the birth of modern Ireland, set backstage during performances of ground-breaking Irish plays. Dr Faustus is a funny and fast-paced abridgement of Christopher Marlowe’s most famous show. Victor is a new comedy play about relationships by Russell Obeney and Janet Garner(OBE Productions), whilst the black comedy Time Please (Fetch Theatre), by John Knowles, is unexpected, powerful and brilliant, touching on serious domestic issues.

There is plenty for fans of comedy, spoken word and storytelling including The 30 Year Old Virgo (Michelle Aldridge), Age Fright: 35 and Counting (Jaleelah Galbraith), Axolotl: A Poetry Reading (Ryan Ward), Emancipation (Lorraine Chademunhu), Buzzing (Debbie Bird), And I Think it Might Be… New Romantic! (Marie Forrest), Hesitation Remarks (Chrissy Ross)and The Chronic Complainer (Ryan Bicheranloo).

Cabaret and entertainment are delivered with style by musical comedy performers Freyja Westdal and Beth Hayward in Westdal& Hayward Need Work and Rachel Dingle and Ruth West in A Little R and R, stage hypnotist Mark Knight, the Trashfuturepodcast and, for young children, Spec-tacular(Tiny T’s Tiny Theatre)a show about a girl and her magical glasses.

From other branches of the PQA family, PQA Full-Time Academy students from London present love stories with a difference in Harriet Braun’s play, Three. These students, aged 16+, will be attending Fringe for the first time as part of their two-year Diploma in Performing Arts. This unique opportunity is provided by PQA for all students at the end of their first year.The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts also offers its weekend Academy students many opportunities to share their talents, from the bright lights of the West End to the international performing arts arena of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Students from a number of Academiesaround the UK, aged 10-18, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, will bring their range of productions from hard-hitting drama to fairy tales with a spin: The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, Mugged, The Norse Mythology Ragnasplosion, Second Person Narrative (all four by PQA Edinburgh), Alice in Wonderland (PQA Glasgow), The Terrible Tail of Adelaide Worthing(PQA Stroud), I Don’t Want to Talk About It (PQA Swindon), The Trial (PQA Cambridge), That’s How I See It (PQA York, PQA Scarborough, PQA Beverley and PQA Hull), Shadow of the Rose (PQA Tunbridge Wells), Written with Crayons (PQA Hemel Hempstead), So-Called Gen Z (PQA Sutton) and Wingmen (PQA Wolverhampton).

The Fringe’s first Education FestivalEduMod at the Fringe, will include public seminars such as Promoting Diversity in Education and Are The Kids Alright? Generations Z’s Mental Health Crisis.

Actress, and Founder of PQA Venues, Pauline Quirke, said: “Our aim is to be welcoming and accessible to everyone, whether they are watching a show, performing or just popping in to recharge their batteries. It is invaluable for our PQA students to have the exciting experience of performing at the Fringe, alongside such a high-calibre roster of professional companies. We couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome from SHBT last year and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with them in 2019.”

For further information on all shows, or to book tickets, visit: or via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Box Office, in person, or by telephone: 0131 226 0000.


Richard Murphy Architects appointed to design vision for Leith Custom House

Custom House Exterior

Richard Murphy Architects appointed to design vision for Leith Custom House

Home > Richard Murphy Architects appointed to design vision for Leith Custom House

Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) and the City of Edinburgh (CEC) are delighted to announce the appointment of award winning practice Richard Murphy Architects to undertake a feasibility study to secure the future for the Custom House for the benefit of the community of Leith and beyond.

The feasibility study will develop the long-term masterplan for the building.  Key to this will be consultation with the community in Leith, which will continue throughout the feasibility study process.  The study will consider a range of options to deliver a financially sustainable model for Custom House in the long term, and will include a display of a number of key objects from the Museum and Galleries Leith collection.  It is anticipated that the feasibility study will be completed by the end of 2019.

Una Richards, Chief Executive of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, said:

“The work that SHBT has undertaken so far to bring the building to life and draw people to the site has been very successful. As a result, Custom House is now a vibrant artistic hub, and we have brought new life to the Shore and to Commercial Street.  This will continue to grow as the capital project to restore the building is developed.  The feasibility study will set out the future vision for the Custom House and will see it given its place back in the heart of Leith, for the community”.

Cllr Donald Wilson, Convener of Culture and Communities for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

“This is an important moment for Custom House and the Leith community. The building and the surrounding area share a rich history, with Custom House once acting as the main site of imports in Leith. The appointment of Richard Murphy Architects is the next step in developing the long-term masterplan for the future of building to the benefit of the Leith Community and beyond.”

The Custom House was bought by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2015 using Common Good funding.  Taking a building which has been used as a store for the last 30 years, SHBT has transformed the building into a creative hub, providing studios for artists and creatives as well as meeting and community spaces including in Custom Lane – a coffee shop, gentlemen’s outfitter, gallery and community space and the Edinburgh Tool Library.  SHBT also provides space to host the Leith Market every Saturday in the Car Park adjacent to the building selling a range of produce, gifts and crafts as well as food stalls.

Since taking over the building, the local community have been welcomed and encouraged to visit and make use of the building.  This has resulted in over 10,000 visitors in addition to specific open public events. Informal consultation has taken place with members of the community at a number of open days to canvas opinions on the longer-term vision for the building.

Richard Murphy Architects Director Bill Black:

‘Richard Murphy Architects are delighted to have been selected to work with SHBT on developing a truly exciting future for the Leith Custom House. Working creatively with historic buildings is something that has held a long fascination for us and is an important part of developing and maintaining our city’s heritage. We look forward to the challenges that this study will explore and the opportunities it can bring for the people of Leith.’

Custom House Restoration

On our projects page we have a wealth of information about the history of Custom House, as well as updates on the restoration project.

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Custom House Meanwhile Uses

Custom House is currently operating as a vibrant creative hub in the heart of Leith, with studio spaces to let and function rooms to hire.

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