Two visions of Scotland collide in Craigmillar: preserved ruins rising over open countryside, and blighted post-war public housing schemes. An impoverished suburb presided over by the evocative ruins of Craigmillar Castle suffers its split identity poorly. Tended grounds establish a wide natural barrier between the central tower house and elaborate curtain wall fortifications, and benighted neighbourhoods of low class housing treated worse than a toddler’s toys. Elaborate rooms withstanding the depredations of Scotland’s tumultuous history all but mock the dowdy Craigmillar Court Gardens, a pair of apartment blocks scoured of character and already crumbling.
Ambitious redevelopment plans drawn up in the wake of violent rioting over a lack of services have yet to see fruition except in stepped-up police patrols and hollow promises. Minorities settled in during and after the War displaced the traditional white majority and the social tension simmers in every restaurant and on every corner. Cheap bars and strip clubs outnumber schools and libraries by a vast margin, the commercial district on Peffermill Road catering to low-end gyms and lousy convenience stores. Eastbound buses rarely appear at stops on time and never linger for fear of muggings, leaving commuters shivering on the cracked sidewalks. Idle NEETs play basketball in unkempt courts or seek trouble to allay their boredom.