Caledonian Brewery Edinburgh homes for Artisan Real Estate, Shandon housing, Scottish capital property development
Caledonian Brewery Edinburgh Homes Development
22 December 2023
Location: 40 Slateford Road, Shandon – North Merchiston, three miles west of the centre of Edinburgh
Artisan Real Estate Purchases Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery
Consultation to Begin for Sustainable 170-home Community at Historic City Centre Site
Caledonian Brewery Edinburgh Development
Regeneration specialist Artisan Real Estate has agreed terms with Heineken UK to purchase the 1.9-acre Caledonian Brewery in Shandon, Edinburgh. Artisan has submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) to develop the historic site into a sustainable, low-carbon residential development, with plans to deliver around 170 new homes. A major public consultation programme seeking feedback on the proposals for the site will start in February 2024.
Sitting at the western edge of Edinburgh’s city centre, the Caledonian Brewery was the capital’s last major city brewery prior to its closure in 2022. Founded in 1869 by George Lorimer and Robert Clark, the brewery site and its range of distinctive B-listed Victorian buildings provide a significant reminder of the city’s once extensive brewing heritage. Known locally as ‘The Calley’ the brewery was famed for using traditional brewing methods and equipment – such as open square fermenters and original direct fired copper kettles.
Having passed through a range of ownerships during the past two centuries, the brewery was operated by Heineken from 2008 following the company’s acquisition of the UK assets of then owner Scottish and Newcastle. In May 2022, Heineken announced the closure of the Caledonian Brewery and subsequently put the site on the market.
Artisan Real Estate has a strong track record in delivering award-winning sensitive urban regeneration projects. This includes the New Waverley mixed-use development in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, as well as recently completing the transformation of Glasgow’s historic Custom House into a thriving hotel quarter. Welcoming the purchase of the site, Artisan’s Scottish Regional Director David Westwater said: “The Caledonian Brewery was an important part of Edinburgh’s past – and now it has the potential to become an important part of the city’s future.
“We plan to create a much needed sustainable, low carbon residential community with around 170 homes providing a healthy mix of accommodation. This will include a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments through to duplex units and mews houses, of which 35% will be affordable housing in line with the City of Edinburgh Council policy.”
He added: “From the start, the brewery’s unique heritage and character will govern our development approach. Around one fifth of the homes will be housed in the existing listed buildings, which we will preserve and restore to their former glory. We will also, wherever possible, respect and reflect the original footprint of the brewery – including recreating the top-floor skyline of the maltings buildings which was demolished following a fire almost 30 years ago.”
Most of the listed buildings on the site date from the late 19th to early 20th century and were constructed using distinctive red brick with white brick dressings. The existing brewhouse and maltings were built in 1892 following designs by renowned Edinburgh architect Robert Hamilton Paterson, who also designed the Royal Scots War Memorial in the city’s St Giles Cathedral. The maltings houses what was the last remaining direct fired ‘coppers’ to be used in the UK. Also listed is the 130-ft red brick chimney which towers spectacularly over the neighbouring community.
The Caledonian Brewery site was placed on the market by agents JLL in November 2022 after owners Heineken had reviewed options to sell the site as a going concern. At the time, the global brewer said the Victorian infrastructure at the plant meant it was no longer economically viable amid falling production in the last decade.
A spokesperson from Heineken UK said: “This is a hugely significant site which has played a key role in the development of brewing in Edinburgh for more than 150 years.
“It was a very difficult decision to close the site last year, but we are pleased that a developer of Artisan’s pedigree and experience will now take the site forward and preserve many of the brewery’s unique features whilst meeting the varied demands of modern and sustainable city centre living.”
For more information on Artisan Real Estate’s upcoming Caledonian Brewery public consultation, visit: https://streets-uk.com/slateford/
Caledonian Brewery – Development Timeline
|18-year-old London tea merchant George Lorimer returns to his family home in Edinburgh following the tragic death of his father at Edinburgh’s Theatre Royale. Whilst golfing at the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society he meets Robert Clark, then Head Brewer at the Alexander Melvin Brewery in Edinburgh. After a few drinks, they agree to use George’s future inheritance to launch a brewery in the city.
|George finally inherits his father’s estate and purchases the then 2.3-acre site alongside Slateford Road from the Earl of Sheldon.
|With George providing the money and Robert providing the brewing expertise, the pair complete the brewery and name it the Lorimer & Clark Caledonian Brewery after the Caledonian Railway Line which still forms the northern boundary to the site. The first of the brewery’s impressive direct-fired coppers were installed in the same year.
|Several buildings on the site were reconstructed following designs by Edinburgh architect Robert Hamilton Paterson – including the new brewery and maltings buildings. Although the brewery sold its beers and stouts all over Scotland, its most popular beer was Lorimer’s Best Scotch which was sold predominantly in the north-east of England.
|The popularity of Lorimer’s Best Scotch in northern England leads to the brewery being sold to Sunderland-based Vaux Breweries following the retirement and death of George Lorimer (Clark having died in 1874.)
|Vaux cease brewing in Edinburgh and transfers its operations to its base in Sunderland, placing the Caledonian Brewery under threat of closure.
|The brewery is saved by a management buy-out led by Head Brewer Russell Sharp and the Caledonian Brewing Company is formed.
|The brewery’s maltings buildings is destroyed by fire in 1994 whilst another fire in October 1998 destroys one of the three original coppers. A local company comes to the rescue and hand-builds an exact replacement to the original plans. As part of the repairs, a new yeast room, cask-racking system and new settling tanks for keg beers are added, together with a kegging plant.
|When Vaux ceases brewing operations altogether, Caledonian buys back the rights to the Lorimer & Clark name.
|The brewery site and production facilities are bought by Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) following their closure of the McEwan’s Brewery in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. Production of McEwan’s ales is subsequently transferred to the Caledonian Brewery. A new Caledonian Brewing Company (CBC) is formed by several former shareholders and directors of the pre-2004 business. CBC owns the Caledonian brands and operates the brewery site on behalf of the owners. Whilst S&N takes a 30% share in this business, CBC operates on an independent basis.
|S&N buys the remaining shares in CBC to take full control of the company. Heineken then acquires the UK assets of Scottish and Newcastle which includes the Caledonian Brewery.
|In May, Heineken announces the proposed closure of the Caledonian Brewery with an agreement in principle for Belhaven Brewery to brew its Scottish brands. In October, the site is placed on the market.
|In December, Artisan Real Estate announces that it has purchased the site from Heineken with a consultation set to start in February 2024 for a sustainable community of 170 new homes to be developed on the site.
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