Work in progress

A new venue is always a reason for celebration but the opening of The Vaults in Edinburgh is a particularly exciting prospect. James Haliburton explores the delights of the underworld and finds clubbing in Edinburgh may never be quite the same again.

One of the most exciting and ambitious projects in Edinburgh’s recent history has complete its initial

stage of development with the opening on 8 May of

The Vaults as a new club venue. Although The Vaults have already been used for filming, it will be the first opportunity for the general public to view the impressive underground chambers.

Situated under South Bridge, with an entrance in

Niddry Street, the maze of tunnels and sealed

rooms were discovered by developer Norri Rowan i

when he was removing a fireplace from the Tron Tavern in the High Street. Excavations revealed a

network of interlinked vaults extending the whole 1'


The main vault before building work was completed with bar manager, Kenny McPherson, and George Dumn.

length of Niddry Street. As you would expect, attached to The Vaults is a rich history. Dating back to the 18th century, they have been used variously to house a brothel, an illicit still, a Silversmith and even as a meeting place for Edinburgh’s Hellfire Club (an excuse for the city’s leading businessmen to indulge in clandestine debauchery).

The Vaults are ideally located since Niddry Street is the only non-residential street in the Old Town and as such the area has been earmarked for extensive redevelopment. A club venue is only the beginning. The long-term plan is the setting up of Edinburgh’s very own media centre (an idea that has often been talked about but until now has never seemed more than a pipe dream) with recording studios, offices for graphic designers and video production companies. However, George Duffin, the venue’s entertainments manager stresses such developments are long-term and initially The Vaults will concentrate on developing its reputation as a club and live venue.

Punters entering The Vaults through Niddry Street will be greeted by a cafe area housing merchandise, coffee bar, soft drinks bar, photo

booth and cloakroom. This reception area leads off to the two main vaults that will act as the main dancefloor. Directly off the dancefloor is the bar

which will provide a relatively quiet area away

from the pandemonium (the walls are, after all, sixteen feet thick in some places). Plans are also

: afoot to house games, videos and an ambient room ' in adjacent vaults.

The first club to occupy The Vaults will be Tribal

Function who will feature a live appearance from

Papa’s Magic Beard. Tribal Function will run fortnightly, eventually alternating with Chocolate City when it returns on 19 June. Evol and Ice jointly host a one-off event on 16 May when guest DJs will be joined by Airstream. The only other

: confirmed club is Delicatessen run by Rock and

Ewan who have been promoting Pure and Wave at the Venue so successfully. Main DJ Brainstorm will be joined by international DJs from places like Paris’s La Locomotive. Although still in the planning stages, it also looks likely that Thursday nights will be a regular gay club run in conjunction with Scotscene. With an initial capacity of 950, it looks like The Vaults has the potential to be the city’s most exciting and successful club venue.

The Vaults, 15—1 7 Niddry Street, 558 3146.

The List 24 April 7 May 1992 53