It doesn’t seem that long ago that I wrote a blog announcing we would be managing the empty Debenham’s as a community art and heritage space. What a lot has happened since January 2022!
The Wee Hub will be closing its doors at its current location on
October 27th 2023, but we will definitely be back! Thanks to the fantastic support of Ocean Terminal, The Wee Hub is on the move.
When the idea was first proposed it had only a vague shape or concept, nothing was set in concrete – apart from the basic building. Many voices threw around ideas and questions about how to use the space, what kind of tenants or users might want to be involved, how would we manage and administer the overall project? Art and artists, music and musicians, children’s playareas, heritage and history…all kinds of everything but where to start? At the beginning there was a lot of clearing to be done before it could be used by visitors and other groups. Hard graft put in by the initial team, and it was all hands on deck to shift units and other furnishings, painting and reconfiguring. We had some Kickstarter-funded young people to help help create a lively welcoming atmosphere in what was initially a huge, sad and abandoned shop.
Some of the organisations who arrived in the early months remained with us to the end: Salle Holyrood Fencing, Tinderbox, Thistle Model Railway, Pianodrome, and Think Circus. These groups have held events and workshops, and put on performances. We have had dance classes – line dancing was a hit with David and Delphine – and dance displays. Circus skills sessions with spinning plates and hoola hoops were popular on Friday afternoons with visitors, both young and old(er). Classes to learn English were attended by some of the Ukrainians who were housed on the ship after the Russian invasion. Although no longer living on the ship, the Ukrainians have continued to use the Hub and held a national celebration day and ran a kids’ summer club. The children’s play area – The Wee Hoppers – has always been popular with parents and children; a safe indoor place to run around, play with bikes and trikes, exploring the pirate ship and generally making a lot of noise.
There was a whole community of mannequins left behind once Debenhams left and the offer to pick one to decorate or dress was taken up by nursery groups, individuals, and other groups, including the Edinburgh Festival Carnival whose mannequins were dressed in amazing costumes featuring vast amounts of feathers and sparkles!
The Wee Hub has seen performances of music and drama: Forth Children’s Theatre put on a panto, The Claremont Players entertained us with music, visitors would give us a tune on one of the pianos or accordions, and in The Wee Hub record spot anyone could pick a 45 or 33 record from the selection and play it was all to hear.
Art and artists have also been a regular feature in the Hub. Photographs of conflict in Ukraine to photos taken by Musselburgh Camera Club. Paintings and drawings produced by, amongst several, Hannah, Ewan, and Delphine. Alan Abstract, recycling plastic found in the store rooms, has created an amazing range of work. He has held workshops both in the Hub and with our Thursday activity group, and has now started exhibiting his work elsewhere. David, another artist working with recycled materials, created a short film ‘Metamorphosis’ about the Hub showing how it evolved from a vacant shell into a vibrant hub. Kerry has worked with textiles and her crochet class will migrate up to the Wee Museum.
Brian has displayed his many Picasso inspired paintings and lots of visitors and regulars designed and painted the ceiling tiles as part of our farewell to The Wee Hub. These colourful, daft, weird, thoughtful, delightful, wild, crazy, brilliant, abstract, clever, unique squares are a metaphor for the crazy, wild project that is The Wee Hub. An amazing and exciting community project that has offered a safe space and opportunity to do lots of things…and make lots of memories.
We can’t wait to welcome you back soon in our new space! You will find us on the second floor in the former Wagamama restaurant space. We’ll resume our weekly programme of activities in the coming months.
We know how much the children’s play area meant to many of you. We are working on recreating that beloved space in a new unit within the centre.
Thank you for being a part of The Wee Hub community, and stay tuned for more updates!