Poppy factory closes for multimillion-pound refurbishment

A factory which produces five million poppies every year has closed to undergo a major multimillion-pound refurbishment.

Staff at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh moved to a new temporary home last week for the upgrade programme.

The Canonmills site will have health and safety work done with the removal of asbestos and a new fire suppression system installed.

Production for the Scottish Poppy Appeal will continue at Poppyscotland’s new temporary home at Redford Barracks, in the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The work is expected to take two years with staff and machinery scheduled to return to Canonmills in 2021.

Sturgeon making a poppy
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is one of thousands of visitors to the factory (Jane Barlow/PA)

It comes after the factory received a £2.2 million grant from the UK Government in November to help towards the redevelopment.

Mark Bibbey, Poppyscotland chief executive, said: “The redevelopment is much needed and will ensure the long-term viability of the factory and particularly, of course, the supported employment opportunities it provides for disabled veterans.

“Throughout the works period, there will be minimal impact to the production of poppies and wreaths.

“This will continue just as it has for the past 93 years, with a team of 34 veterans with disabilities hand-producing more than five million poppies and 15,000 wreaths annually.

“Our temporary home at Redford is fully operational now that we’ve completed the quite mammoth logistical challenge of moving our machinery, some of which is over 100 years old.”

  • Opened on the Royal Mile in 1926
  • Began with 'just two workers, a pair of scissors and piece of paper'
  • Employed 117 veterans at one point
  • Moved to Canonmills in 1965
  • Five million poppies and 15,000 wreaths hand-produced each year
  • 34 veterans currently working there

With the factory now temporarily located at the barracks, there will be no option to collect orders in person or access for the public to visit.

Orders can still be placed on the website.

The factory first opened in 1926 at an old wood chopping factory in the grounds of Whitefoord House on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

At one point 117 veterans were employed there before production moved to Canonmills in 1965.

In August last year it became an accredited living wage employer.

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