'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Sopranos Ride Again

Whit a feckin' laugh at Swanston Golf Club on Sunday morning, 44 years after the original photie at Woolworths circa 1972, 'The Sopranos' aka Boo-Boo Hanlon; Paul Forbes; Iain Hoffmann and 'the author' all ride again; next photo-shoot is scheduled for 2060! Thanks to the talented Louise Kennedy for conducting the photo-shoot and Alan Brown for the idea.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Comiston Farmhouse Update 'Planning Application 37 Flats!'

Followers of the blog will recall that back in April I highlighted the possibility that Comiston Farmhouse may be pulled down and housing developed on the site. Dave Macakay has now alerted me that most unfortunately, an application to build 37 flats on the site has now been lodged with Edinburgh Council. 

'Autumn Morning, Comiston Farmhouse' Robert West Napier (Image courtesy Frank Forrest)

This seems to me to be a real travesty as the building is incredibly important, providing an invaluable historical link and cultural insight into Comiston, the surrounding area and the agricultural past before the development of housing

I've attached part of Dave's message to me which provides a link to a blog site showing what is likely to happen in future if the proposal goes through, but more importantly how one may object to the application to try to prevent this from happening.

'I'm sending you this as I know that you have a keen interest in Edinburgh's past. (I've read and thoroughly enjoyed "The Stair"!).

You may or may not be aware that a planning application has been lodged which involves the demolition of Comiston Farmhouse, 83 Pentland View, Edinburgh. Apart from the significant adverse impact that the proposed building of 37 flats will have on the surrounding area, the Farmhouse is a fine mid-late 19th century building. It was built for the Forrests of Comiston, one of whom, Sir James Forrest, was Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1837 to 1843.

Further details, including how to object, can be found at You don't need to live in Edinburgh to object on heritage grounds. Any support you can give, by objecting to the proposal by 1st July and/or spreading the word via Social Media or otherwise would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, I produced a brief history of Comiston House last year to mark the 200th anniversary of its construction. It included details from your blog of the story about mass hysteria in the local primary school, after children "saw the White Lady".'

Monday, 9 May 2016

'V Signs' at 'The Stair' 1971

The first two are easy, Messrs. Iain Hoffmann and Paul Forbes, but what one of the six Blades girls is at the window of 6/6?

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Comiston Farmhouse, 1920

Harvest Field, Braidburn Valley, with Comiston Farm and the Pentlands in the distance, 1920
('Mark', The Living Memory Association)

A rather wonderful photograph from almost a century ago.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Comiston Farmhouse Destruction

Followers of the blog may have enjoyed the significant part it played recently in solving the 'Comiston Walled Garden Mystery'. Unfortunately the lovely Comiston Farmhouse is likely to be pulled down and replaced with blocks of flats. I have attached details of a site devoted to trying to prevent this from happening. Below are some photographs which I took just after the 'mystery was solved-I'm glad I did given its imminent destruction. It's unfortunate as I'm sure there is a win-win situation out there.

Thank you Peter,

It's amazing the things which the internet can reveal and inform us about.

This would be a real shame as it's the last building in the area which gives any key as to what it was like before all the development.

I was out and about with an old friend yesterday investigating some of the past industry and railway around Kilwnning and Irvine and right in the centre of a modern development the farm buildings were retained and turned into a community centre. If an old building survives this long it doesn't seem right it should be flattened when we are now more and more aware of destroying our past.

This made me rush off and look to see if the old buildings in use as a community centre at Oxgangs Road North are still there and it seems from Google Street view that they are.


Douglas Blades

Friday, 22 April 2016

Army Tank, Pentlands

For those followers of 'The Stair' who didn't see Tom Thorbun's very interesting post on the 'Like Warriors' website, he gave me the thumbs up to also post it on 'The Stair' too. 

By way of preface, the more mature readers of the blog will recall the army tank which was sited in the lea of the north side of the Pentlands, not far away from the T Woods. 

When we were young, many Hunters Tryst Primary School pupils ventured up there, not only to play in the tank, but to also gather used (or unused live ammunition!). Some boys could be seen in Oxgangs and at school walking about with the ammunition proudly on display, until a dictact went out from the school to prevent it from happening, backed up by some police involvement too! 

Here's Tom's post:

'The tank was placed up there by my father John Thorburn for firing practice; he worked as an engineer at Redford Barracks and would come home to Firrhill Crescent in a 12 ton Scammel with crane hook at the rear. He would also take us around Colinton Mains in a jeep.

We used to play up at the tank and on one occasion after collecting empty shell rounds, we found a mortar; being about 8 years old at the time we did not realise the danger and carried it down the road,only to be stopped by a police car at a distance and were told to gently lay it down!

We didn't do that again, but I do remember collecting gooseberries from a field near the Edinburgh by-pass and sitting on a large metal object with fins at one end...we ran like hell! Many years later I informed the police of this find and they told me to relocate it and report back. Needless to say I never did as it was a distant memory, but I believe German bombs were jettisoned over the Pentlands as they flew back from Rosyth bombing raids and the like. 

The Army practice area is at Flotterstone, Castlelaw Rifle Ranges which I helped to build over a two year contract with the Property Services Agency and the Army. It took me out of the office and into the hills....l loved it but couldn't understand why we had to wear protective hats when the ground was full of unexploded mortar shells underfoot!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Further Update Comiston Walled Market Garden 'Mystery' From Ken Watt

Isn't it great what can be done when people work together and share information! I received this e mail this morning.

Hi Peter,

I stumbled onto your blog and saw a post about a disappeared walled garden at Comiston. I wondered if you've seen this Edinburgh Council website ?

It shows maps and aerial photos from the last 160 years of any part of the city. I find the 1940s RAF shots very useful for research.

Comiston Walled Garden, 1946

I was able to find the missing bungalow and walled garden with this. Perhaps Raymond Nimmo, who asked where it was would like to see it.? (Duly done-thanks Ken-may make for a good framed photograph!) The site of the walled garden is now Pentland Drive.

Kind regards.

Ken Watt

Juniper Green

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Hunters Tryst v Craiglockhart, 1968

Many thanks to my friend, Steve O'Sullivan for this photie from the mists of time, half a century ago.

I similarly recall playing close matches against Craiglockhart, either on the pitches we had in the wonderful school grounds which Hunters Tryst enjoyed or down at Meggetland. The photograph features the school's 'Wee Team' including the goalie, Keith Robertson (4/2 Oxgangs Avenue) from 'The Stair' next to ours.

Below shows another photie of Keith 'The Cat' Robertson in action! :-)

Cameo from Carol

I remember very well Mr. Leslie (4/1 Oxgangs Avenue)-he was a lovely man. I also have keen memories of his younger daughter, Catriona who I was pals with and her big sister Janice; we used to play her records when she wasn't around. I distinctly remember listening to Frank Sinatra singing ‘Blue Moon’, and lots of other very dreamy music, around about 1965. We also used to dress up in her clothes and high heeled shoes, until she caught us and screamed 'blue murder' for touching her stuff-fun days and lots of laughs...I think Janice was at least eight years older than Catriona. 

Carol Ramage (4/3 Oxgangs Avenue)

Monday, 14 March 2016

Colinton Mains Comment From Annie Burns, USA

Colinton Mains Development (Photograph courtesy Mr J. Dickson)

How absolutely lovely to see this photo. We lived at 159 Colinton Mains Rd with my granny and she used to send us down to RS McColls to buy Callard and Bowsers toffees for her. She was quite old and we used to sneak the toffees on the way home, hoping that she'd never notice because of her eyesight. I'll bet she did, but just let us have them. 

Colinton Mains (Photograph courtesy David McLean, 'Lost Edinburgh')
We used to buy cinnamon potatoes and Parma violets at Andrettis and my mum always bought her bacon and sausages at Neil's. I have many wonderful memories of growing up there. My nana and grampa Bo lived at 246 Colinton Mains Rd and my auntie Ruby still lives there. We moved to the States in 1974 and I've been back only twice. Last time was '97 and most of the ships had been taken over by new owners. My sister Karen and I will be back in November for the first time together as adults since we left. I'm very much looking forward to visiting all of our old play haunts and to seeing our school, Oxgangs. We were so very lucky to grow up there. Thank you oh so much for this blog. It's brought back many wonderful memories. :) 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Downes' Green-Grocers, Colinton Village

I’ve always rather liked the traditional green-grocers shops selling fruit 'n vegetables which used to be so common on our high streets. Like many small shops they’ve been decimated by large supermarkets. There’s still one in Dingwall High Street; throughout the 1950s to the 1970s there was also one located at Oxgangs Broadway serving the community. So, it’s rather wonderful that adjacent to Oxgangs at Colinton Village that Patsy's wee shop is still going strong, since her grandfather first opened the business in 1908.

Every few years I drop by convinced the shop will no longer exist, yet I’m always delighted to be proven wrong. When we spent seven happy years living at West Mill between 1989 and 1996 we used to shop there. Similar to Patsy's, these shops were always quite basic, with a distinct smell and feel to them and always painted with traditional green paint, usually fading, which all added to their appeal.

Entry for T.H. Downes from the Edinburgh & Leith Postal Directory from over a century ago

I don't think I'd linked the shop with the equally charming T.H. Downes Nursery Garden and Greenhouses on the other side of the bridge, which we could see from our old kitchen window on the other side of the Water of Leith.

Today I looked in to buy some bananas for tomorrow’s Dundee Duel-the old worldly till is a treasure-pre-decimalisation!

As ever Patsy was sitting on her stool, with the big old clock ticking, with a paperback to hand-a James Paterson-goodness knows how many books she’s read there over the decades. I spoke to her and she was saying she’s going for a knee operation shortly, but although a little infirm she’s hardly changed in appearance since I first frequented the shop 30 years ago. She told me she will be the last member of the family to run the business. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

'The White Lady' Anonymous Comment

'When I was around the age of 10 in the early 70s I used to go up to Bonaly, Oxgangs and the Pentlands Hills with my friend during the school holidays. One occasion we got such a scare that we didn't stop running until we reached home; we were both walking down a dirt footpath near an old rubber mill and for some reason we both turned around and witnessed a woman with a white dress hovering off the ground and you could see the grass underneath her feet. It spooked us and I have never run so fast in my life. On getting home I explained this to my mum who said, 'Oh that will be the White Lady'. As the days passed we just got on with our lives and tonight for some reason it popped into my head again so I did some checking on line and came across this Blog 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Colinton Mains Shops Development

The shells of the buildings which would become the shops at Colinton Mains (J. Dickson) 

David McLean (Lost Edinburgh) very kindly sent me this absolutely wonderful photograph from the early days when the Colinton Mains shops were being built. The photograph belongs to a Mr J Dickson. It's a real treasure of a find, capturing a fascinating moment in time featuring the early development of the area; the shops were a great resource for the residents at Colinton Mains, but also for those of us who lived at Oxgangs and Firhill too. My early memories of the shops and shopkeepers include Neils the Butchers; Andrettis Grocers; McNish's Post Office; and McCalls the Newsagents. 

It's quite remarkable some of the fantastic and important photies which occasionally appear, that no one knew even existed, but can now be enjoyed because of the blessing of social media, Facebook sites and people prepared to share such items. In days gone by, such items would have remained undiscovered within family albums-now they can be enjoyed by thousands of us.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Kim Cook (Penwill) Comment re: Lesley Orr on post "St John's Church-An Update":

I stumbled upon this blog after accessing Lost Edinburgh on Facebook. Imagine my extreme surprise when I noticed your comment on St John's Church, Lesley Orr, as I knew you many years ago when we lived in Oxgangs Street. My maiden name is Penwill, first name Kim and I have a very fond memory of attending one of your birthday parties! Our family moved to Australia in 1967 and I have been back to visit Oxgangs on a couple of occasions while on my travels. I hope life has treated you kindly. 



Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Oxgangs; Comiston; Dreghorn Walled Market Garden-Mystery Solved? Definitely!

When Ray first got in touch with me I suggested kicking off with an old Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory, but he didn't think his dad had a phone. Well, he did-thanks to David Shannon for tracking this down, which corroborates Douglas Blades' excellent detective work-'Sandy Nimmo-Market Gardener!'

ps As Douglas says: 'It's quite remarkable what can be found out! All good fun!'

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Oxgangs; Comiston; Dreghorn Walled Market Garden-Mystery Solved? Douglas Blades

My good friend, the inimitable Douglas Blades, may well have solved the mystery of the site of the old walled garden which was posted last week. If anyone wishes a high quality attachment of the two poor quality map images which I've posted below, please let me know and I'll e mail them to you.

'I'm sure this was just along from the (Oxgangs) Broadway on land which I always thought belonged to Harwells (of Colinton Dairy etc. fame) and I also think it was abandoned before 1965. I remember the bungalow lying abandoned and derelict after the folk moved away and exploring it. Yes, there was a walled garden and small blocks of flats were built on it but I think the wall remains.  Mr McCall, a Boroughmuir English teacher lived in one of the flats either just before or after he retired. I also remember that potatoes still came up here and there is a field beside it. We passed near it on our way to play at The Gully which was nearer Buckstone than Oxgangs and quite near what used to be the Pentland Hills Hotel (I think!)

I'll have a look at old maps next week plus Google earth and see what I can find to jog my memory.'


'Look at the old map (1932) first. Top right, Comiston. Below that, walled garden with a well marked towards bottom left hand corner.

Bottom left hand corner, larger square marked just outwith the walled garden is the cottage. Over to the left, Oxgangs, what is now the (Oxgangs )Avenue looks like it is just a path. 

Now over to Google earth satellite picture. From the old map, the only thing still with us today is the house below the word Comiston and its boundaries. You can see the two blocks of flats which were built within the walled garden and you can sort of follow the old road between it and the newer Pentand Primary School . The older house in its own grounds on what is now Camus Avenue also appears to still exist. The tree lines don’t seem to have changed much and Pentland Drive seems to follow the old field boundary. As we passed over it from the Oxgangs side the first field had been a potato field in its final days as cultivated land but the second field was fallow and just grass as far as I can remember.

Looking at Google street view it appears the old boundary wall has now gone. When the two blocks of flats were built it was still there but breached in places.

I reckon the cottage would have been at the end of what is now Pentland School Lane or at the end of the block of garages beside the lane.'

Douglas Blades

Monday, 8 February 2016

'The Top Secret 1971 Oxgangs/Boroughmuir Diaries of Retep Nnamffoh Aged 14 and a Hauf!"

If you're searching for 'The Top Secret 1971 Oxgangs/Boroughmuir Diaries of Retep Nnamffoh Aged 14 and a Hauf!" please note the posts will now be published daily throughout 2016 on a new separate sister site. I've now transferred the daily posts from 1 January,1971 to Saturday 6 February,1971 originally listed here to the new site. 

Although the 'Diaries' are closely interrelated to 'The Stair', because of the scale of this new project, I felt there was a danger of it overwhelming and cluttering up the original 'The Stair'' blog-site and making it difficult for viewers to navigate around the variety of material held here.

Please find the new link below-there is also another link on the right-hand side window too, under 'My Blog List.' Enjoy and please follow both sites!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Mystery-Oxgangs; Comiston; Dreghorn?

I've attached some great photographs from a Ray Nimmo with the added bonus of a mystery/puzzle-trust it will generate much heat and even some light! It's from 1955/1956 and features Sandy, Amy Louisa & Carol Gay Nimmo harvesting in their Market Garden. Ray is not quite sure if it was in Oxgangs, Comiston, etc.-my initial thought is either Comiston or Dreghorn? 

Here's some extracts from Ray's e mail; ' me to locate the site of the walled garden that I spent the first five years of my living beside in a small bungalow.  It was owned by my parents at the time who tried unsuccessfully to run it as a 'market garden' and was sold on for development about 1959 (but did not make my parents wealthy!!).  

Try as I might, I cannot pin its exact location down.  My wife and I have recently come full circle back to Edinburgh after a life of moving all over the UK and now live in retirement in Greenbank. I am trying to get a better grip on my family history and locating this old garden is part of that search.  I attach the only photos that I have of the garden and as you can see it was quite substantial so it must have been associated with a large house back in the day (which may be the one at the back of the photo but I cannot recall it from my childhood).  It was near Oxgangs Farm (I recall helping the farmer sow crops sitting on the back of his tractor's seed drill (strictly verboten now!!) and watching the cows being milked).  Also the Oxgangs shopping precinct was relatively nearby and in the process of being built. Any information or help that you might have would be much appreciated.'

Monday, 1 February 2016

100,000 Visitors

When I launched this social history blog, I don't think I ever considered hitting this milestone.