The Cockburn Association Doors Open Day 2021

Saturday 25th September 2021
10.30am - 3pm, Hourly tours from 10.30am until the last tour at 2.30pm

Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust’s mission is to provide affordable and appropriate spaces, resources, projects and opportunities for the residents of Edinburgh to be creative in multiple locations.

The exterior and large front doors of the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, designed in 1915.

Since 2004 Out of the Blue’s headquarters has been the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, a building of considerable historical and cultural significance to the Leith community. The Drill Hall was built in 1901 for the Royal Scots Regiment, designed by the renowned architect Sir Rowand Anderson, who also designed the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street and the McEwan Hall at Edinburgh University. Following Out of the Blue’s 2015 ‘Gretna 100’ project, which marked the centenary of the Gretna rail tragedy, and the impact it had on the Leith community, the Out of the Blue Drill Hall was regraded from ‘B’ to ‘A’ listed. 

Careful, sustainable restoration and regeneration has transformed this former military building into a participatory and inclusive arts and cultural centre, with artists’ studios, rehearsal and performance areas, exhibition spaces and a well-reviewed café. The Out of the Blue Drill Hall is a vibrant, fun, and inclusive place, where people can experience all kinds of innovative contemporary arts, enjoy the creative atmosphere, meet, discuss, eat, relax, learn. 

We will be running hourly tours of the Out of the Blue Drill Hall from 10.30am until the last tour at 2.30pm. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your preferred tour slot to sign up for a place. There will be sign up sheets available for each tour from 10am.
Maximum number of 12 slots per tour. 

The bustling monthly Out of the Blue Flea Market will be open in the Main Hall from 10am-3pm. 

The Edinburgh and East Lothian Doors Open Days 2021 programme has been organised by the Cockburn Association.

Video guide

Further reading

For further reading on The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, and the charity itself, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust, please visit the following pages on our website;

Gretna rail disaster (Gretna 100)

On the 22nd May 1915, at Quintinshill near Gretna, the worst train disaster in British railway history left over 200 men from the 1/7th Royal Scots dead. This ‘Leith Battalion’ trained at the Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street which later became the focus point for families looking for information after the disaster.

Working with Out of the Blue in this same building 100 years later, a group of community actors from Active Inquiry and Strange Town Young Company researched and devised a piece of promenade theatre, Persevere, which guided the audience around the Drill Hall enabling them to catch glimpses of stories of Leithers 100 years ago saying goodbye to sons and brothers, hearing the news of the crash and coping with the aftermath.

In addition, a group of community researchers worked with Citizen Curator and artist Jan-Bee Brown to research and curate an exhibition, Seven of the 7th, exploring the disaster through the story of seven soldiers who were involved. This exhibition also included The Tree of Life, produced in partnership with Pilmeny Youth Centre and artist Heather Scott, in which pupils from Leith Academy researched and helped to make a glass dog-tag for each of the 216 soldiers who died.

Out of the Blue Drill Hall based film maker Ray Bird’s brilliant documentary film of the Gretna 100 project  powerfully illustrates how a participatory arts project can have a long lasting impact for participants and audience alike.

You can learn more about the Gretna 100 project at

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    Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG Learn how to get here →

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    Over the course of 2024 Out of the Blue will continue to offer opportunities for artists and members of the community to learn, participate and earn income.

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