To some, they’re an ugly eyesore not worthy of being kept.

For others, the pale blue iron web surrounding a bulging dome is an industrial artwork and historic structure deserving protection.

Now one of Scotland’s few remaining Victorian gasholders is to undergo a £16.4 million facelift to become the focal point of a new waterfront town.

The 150ft high gas tower in Granton is Edinburgh’s last relic of an age when the port boasted the largest gas works in the country.

But when gas production stopped in the 1970s, the gas holder – along with others around the country – fell into disuse leaving a headache over what should be done with them.

Many have been demolished and some have been given listed building status. However, in many cases they sit on contaminated land, restricting how they can be used.

The Herald: The gasometer taking centre stage in new developmentThe gasometer taking centre stage in new development

However, after years of wrangling over what should happen to it, the Granton gasholder, the last surviving one of three towering structures which dominated the waterfront of Edinburgh, is to be completely overhauled for a new role as a visitor attraction.

Edinburgh City Council has not yet confirmed exactly what the gasholder will be used for, however CGI images from a recent council paper discussing its restoration show people abseiling down the towering structure.

It's expected it will also feature a heritage centre explaining the long industrial history of the area.

Other cities have come up with inventive new roles for gasholders. At Kings Cross in London the cast iron frames have been turned into centrepieces of parks, and in Lambeth, hundreds of flats are to be built in a spiral within one of the area’s gasholders.

In Vienna, the 19th century gasometers have been turned into an eye-catching urban complex of shops, cinema and living space, while in Dublin, more than 200 apartments fill the space that was once Dublin Gaswork.

In the past there have been suggestions that the Granton gasholder could become a heritage centre, children’s playground, hotel or concert venue.

Costs of restoring the Granton gasholder, including tackling contaminated land, is to come from the UK Government’s Levelling-Up Fund.

Once complete, the gas holder will become a focal point in the new £1.3 billion Granton waterfront, a massive brownfield site which will become a new residential quarter with 3,500 homes, Europe’s largest coastal park and creative art, culture and leisure spaces.

Local Councillor Jim Campbell said: “The gasholder is an ornate structure and a landmark in the city which anyone flying in to Edinburgh Airport will clearly see.

“Local people have an affinity to it and regard it as something that is part of their heritage.

“It’s not been used since the 1970s, so there will be a generation who do not know that we used to manufacture gas from coal.”

Huge gasometers were built in towns and cities across Scotland to store gas produced by heating coal to create a mix of hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. The by-products – coke, coal tar and ammonia – were sent to a chemical plant for processing for further use, while the gas helped light and heat thousands of homes.

Gasometers store gas at close to atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature, and use the weight of their heavy caps to push gas through the pipes. They were a common sight in British towns before coal gas was replaced by North Sea Gas in the 1970s. Many were left to rust and become eyesores.

The decision by Edinburgh City Council to press ahead with ambitious plans to redevelop the Granton gasholder raises the question of what might happen to other similar structures across the country.

Last week the former SGN gas holder site on Harbour Road, Inverness was identified as a site for a new green hydrogen production, storage and distribution facility.

While in Glasgow, the landmark gas holder near Ibrox stadium has been earmarked for demolition.

The more ornate gasholders at Provan, the largest in Scotland, have been preserved after being awarded B Listed status by Historic Environment Scotland which described them as “a regional landmark”. The neighbouring site will house the new £100million Barlinnie Prison.

Meanwhile in Dunfermline, two B-Listed gasometers which date from 1893 when the Dunfermline Gas Light Company increased production to serve the local cloth industry, were recently at the centre of a wrangle over their future with suggestions that their listed status be revoked and the cast iron structured demolished after being labelled as “eyesores” by local politicians.

SGN, formerly Scotia Gas Networks, owns 110 gas holders in Scotland and southern England.