'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

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Moment In Time Hunters Tryst Primary School Class Photograph, Year 1962-1969

Carol Ramage, previously of 4/3 Oxgangs Avenue sent me a copy of her class photograph at Hunters Tryst Primary School, 1962-1969.

Carol is seated in the second row, second in from the right; she's still as slim!

Two seats in from Carol is Nancy Black. Would any readers like to name some of the others in the photograph and their position? I think Irene Burns; Ian McLeod; John McQuater; Audrey Stuart; John Wilkinson; and Lorna Veitch are all there, but I'm unsure of their position other than Ian who is back row, second right.

As ever, it's always interesting to see some of the other details-the carpets and school benches which were always brought out on such occasions; the washing is hanging out in the back gardens of Oxgangs Park-it must be a fine day because it's bed sheets that are swaying in the breeze; and also the recently demolished former St John's Church bell tower in the far background.

I always think it a shame that the general culture was to not include the class teacher in the group-a significant omission, especially half a century on. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Memory of life in Oxgangs and Colinton Mains by Moyra Flynn

Hi Peter, I've "spoken" to you before, about Dr Motley. I bought your book The Stair from Amazon for my Kindle. I started it yesterday afternoon, fell asleep clutching it last night and resumed immediately I woke up this morning. Finished it a couple of hours ago. I loved it.

I knew quite a few of the people mentioned. I'm a few years older than you (69) and moved to Oxgangs when I was 13/14 - late 61/62. We stayed in the Farm Gardens, then moved over to Oxgangs Rise in 1965. When we first moved out from the town centre - I thought I was going to the back of beyond! My mother didn't recognise the place until she bumped into Annie Burke in The Store.

Tommy Egan tackling Jimmy McGrory

Tommy Egan, playing for Birmingham City

She had been my mother's first neighbour when she married my father in 1937. At that time my father played for Hibs (Tommy Egan 1933-1938) and their wedding gift from the club was 6 months rent on a brand new house in Colinton Mains.

Colinton Mains shops development, photograph J. Dickson

Of course Oxgangs/Firrhill didn't exist then. The trams stopped up at Firrhill roundabout and you had to walk the rest of the way. Annie Burke was also Eric Smith's mother in law - he's still fine - saw him at the bowling club on Friday.

I went to St Thomas', then all girls, so didn't really get to know many people before leaving school and starting work. After a year with St Cuthberts I got a job in the chemist at Colinton Mains, so knew the Neil's, McNish, Andretti's etc. Dr Motley was our doctor.

Photograph courtesy David McLean, Lost Edinburgh

Photograph, Mr Davies, courtesy Phil Green

When we moved over to the Rise,( no.5) I met the Flynn family (no.13),who lived next door to the Hunters Tryst janitor, Mr Philips. I can remember the kids making slides in the winter and also throwing snowballs at our windows. Bessie Flynn's first introduction to my father came when she was walking up the hill and he came running out of our house, using very colourful language, and questioning the parentage of the boys throwing the snowballs - it could have been you and your pals!

Colinton Mains Jumble Sale, Scotsman Publications

Bessie became my good friend and also my mother in law! when I married her son Dennis. Our first date was at The Plaza in Morningside. I also worked part time in The Dominion for about 3/4 yrs part time, then 2/3 yrs full time, managing the coffee lounge/restaurant. I also babysat the Cameron children.

Derek Cameron, photograph by Yerbury

Dennis and I live in Firrhill and (life going full circle) our daughters live in Colinton Mains, one a couple of blocks from where my parents lived in 1937 and the other a couple of blocks from the C.M. shops, with one of them now working in the chemist I worked in more than 50 yrs ago.

Goodess but your stories have stirred up memories!

Thank you. Moyra (Egan) Flynn

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! :-)