'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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

St John's Church, Oxgangs Demolition

Christine Vincentti posted these two photographs.

I have written about the closure of  St John's Church in previous blogs; if you wish to read them just click on the index links to St John's Church,

Seeing these photographs of the demolition in process took my breath away.

Although members of the community will be aware that this might happen one day, whether you were prepared for this or not, it will come as a shock and a very poignant and sad day for many.

Detailed below I have included an extract of some comments which the Reverend Orr's daughter, Lesley Orr, made on a previous blog post by me; it records in a few words quite beautifully what the church meant to many; it will leave a gap in people's lives in all senses of the word:

'I still live near Edinburgh, and have revisited St John's on occasion over the years. There are still many old (and getting older...) familiar faces who have been in Oxgangs since the early days, and there is always such a warm welcome from these good friends. People remember my parents with such love and enduring affection - and it means a lot to us to read about the positive impression and impact they made on folk who were not directly involved in the church.

Apart from the emotional connection I feel with the building, which holds so many happy memories, and which has been the space where so many significant markers in my life happened (I was the first baby baptised in St John's - in the hut which was used before the Riach building was opened - and was married there too) I love the clean and elegant lines, the combination of warmth and light, the fantastic chancel space. It speaks so eloquently of the spirit of optimism, hope for the future, participation of all, and community building which characterised the best of Oxgangs in the 1960s and 70s...'

Friday, 9 December 2016

Further Lost Photies From The Mists Of Time

Les Ramage with Shane

Michael Hanlon in foreground with Boo-Boo Hanlon

Celtic strip-must be Boo-Boo!

Simon the Cat

The Author on Iain Hoffmann's Raleigh Chopper

Simon the Cat

Iain Hoffmann

The King of the Stair
What a wee star!

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.