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Old rubber factory to bounce back as £10m city arts venue

The former headquarters of the North British Rubber Company, home of the welly boot, has received £5 million in lottery funds to transform it into a new arts and cultural centre.

Castle Mills in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, will be the new £10m home for Edinburgh Printmakers and the sizeable building, most recently the offices of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, will feature print studios, a purpose-built bar, venue and education facility.

Castle Mills is the last standing reminder of the city's rubber mill and is now on the Buildings at Risk register.

It pioneered the use of India rubber to make Wellington boots, supplying 1.2m pairs to soldiers of the First World War to help them deal with the flooded conditions of the trenches.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has now given £5m to the plan.

At its peak, the North British Rubber Company employed 8000 people and covered a 20 acre site.

Sarah Price, chief executive of Edinburgh Printmakers, said: "With more demand now than ever before for high quality printmaking facilities and training, this investment will secure Edinburgh Printmakers' future at the forefront of printmaking internationally.

"Not only will many hundreds of artists benefit from the new facilities but an extended programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and community arts projects will attract thousands of visitors each year.

"The project's success in attracting investment such as the Heritage Lottery Fund award and a £1.7m grant already secured from Creative Scotland, along with widespread support from community groups, is testament to Castle Mills' incredible industrial heritage and we look forward to it once again playing an important role in the social and economic development of the area."

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be able to help unlock its potential so that it can once again be a centre for new ideas and productivity and a catalyst in the regeneration of Fountainbridge."

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