'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

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Tooth; the Whole Tooth; and Nothing but the Tooth

Oxgangs Dental Practice including Mr Russell and Miss Warwick; photograph, Sandra Young

In the decade after the Second World War the new Oxgangs and surrounding housing schemes were great places to live and bring up young families - modern flats; indoor loos; open coal fires. Looking back we were incredibly lucky to have both a new doctor's surgery and dentist on our doorsteps; for us at 6 Oxgangs Avenue it was less than a two minute walk away. When you're young you just suppose it was how it always was, not appreciating our good fortune.

Mr Russell was the local dentist for decades. His surgery was located next door to Dr Motley' happenstance or not, but a good arrangement.

The difference between relationships and transactions interest me and looking back I had a relationship with Mr Russell, not a transaction.

I can recall sending postcards to the surgery during the 1970s from such locations as Montreal, Prague and Edmonton when major championships were being held. Part of the conditions of being part of these Scottish or British teams was that we had to have full medicals which were duly signed off for me by Dr Motley and Mr Russell. 

Ironically my biggest memory of the dentist was as a young boy coming round from having received gas looking out at the lovely blooms on the trees and foliage out the large window of his surgery room - it was like awaking in paradise, before I recovered my senses!

In later years after Mr Russell retired Miss Warwick became my dentist. Whilst I had a similarly good relationship I was always cautious in my dealings with her; when she was trying to recommend crowns to me for perfectly good teeth she was mildly frustrated at my refusal to rush in, instead wanting to take my time to consider what she was suggesting; she said I was the most cautious patient she had come across.

Looking back I'm uncertain whether she had her patients' long term health and appearance as her top priority or whether she was compromised by a conflict of interest whereby she was keen to also maximise her income. 

In much later decades and as illustrated below in an extract from a newspaper article she led a colourful life away from the surgery. Edinburgh being the home of the doppelganger - the city of Deacon Brodie and Jekyll and Hyde, perhaps there's no surprise there.

Thus far there's been no mention of the receptionist, come dental nurse who loyally served the practice for decades; I warmed to her and liked her very much indeed. She was the ideal employee.

Jim Blyth who emigrated to Canada recalls working in the dental building at the corner of Oxgangs Road North and Oxgangs Farm Drive, making false teeth; he said there was lots of business in Oxgangs at the time!

Prior to us joining Mr Russell's dental practice I recall my first and indeed last visitation to the school dentist at Firhill who was a bit of a brute and when combined with my own cowardly nature was a powerful combination. After a titanic struggle in the chair between the two of us, the dentist managed to stick the needle in to his own hand freezing it and he had to cancel all appointments for the next two hours. 

He told my mother to never bring me back. 

On the way out I shouted 'Ah suppose a badge is oot 'o the question!' 

Clearly I wasn't the only person who had a similar unfortunate experience at the Firrhill Dental Practice as the thread begun by Graeme Robb below indicates!

Graeme Robb Who remembers the school butcher, sorry dentist, just at the gates to Firrhill School? 62 and I still have a fear of dentists thanks to him.

Rhonda Blair That man was so scary; he put a huge silver cap on my tooth - tools sometime to be removed; I should have run for the door.

Elaine Morison Yes Mr Allen; he did the same to me - horrendous and unnecessary!! Always had his dog in the surgery too; he also laid the drill on my jumper and made a hole!! Got over my fear by becoming a dental nurse for 40 years.

Laura Fitzsimons I do....was chucked out for screaming and ended up at Mrs Warwick’s Oxgangs Road North!

Wayne Hewitt From the frying pan into the fire – lol!

Jill Robertson Never went to him but remember the horror stories!

Shirley Sinclair Suzanne Seaton in Colinton is a fantastic dentist.

Lynne Rennie I preferred the Firrhill one to the police station one lol!!!

John Jamieson I remember I was at primary school and my mum took me to the dentist at Firrhill and I was so scared when the drill started I actually ran away; my mum was bit amused when she caught up with me ha ha!

John Hutchison Belt drive a drill nightmare.

Debbie Kerr The Black Witch Warwick scarred me for life when it comes to dentists!

Kim Elizabeth Grassick Me too, she was nasty!! Do you remember the scandal in the Herald?

'The Church of Scotland was last night ‘extremely shocked’ after it was revealed one of its longest serving ministers fathered five illegitimate children during a 25-year affair. Married parish minister the Rev Campbell Ferenbach began his affair with Brownie leader Jill Warwick when she was 17 years old and attended his church with her parents.

Over the next quarter of a century the Edinburgh based minister visited Miss Warwick during the day and returned to his unsuspecting wife, Annie, at night.

He fathered three children by his wife and five children by his lover.

Only at the age of 80 when he thought he was dying of heart failure did he confess to his wife.

She divorced him and in 1986 he married Miss Warwick, a dentist, and claimed legal responsibility for their four sons and daughter.

But last night Miss Warwick, now Mrs Ferenbach, condemned Mr Ferenbach, who died last year at the age of 90, for using her. She told how his ‘God-like religious power’ had left her trapped in his spell after meeting him where he preached at Liberton Parish Church, Edinburgh.

Mrs Ferenbach, 52, of Baberton, Edinburgh, said: ‘I was only 17 when our relationship began and it ruined my life. I thought he was God on earth. I worshipped him and would have done anything he asked. But now I think he was just using me as a bit on the side all these years.' She added: ‘I think he only came to me in the end because he had nowhere else to go.’
Last night Mr Ferenbach's first wife, Alice, now aged 87 and living in a nursing home confirmed the affair. She said: ‘She was so young that I never suspected anything. He was a weak-minded man.’

Yesterday, a spokesman for Church of Scotland said they were stunned and extremely shocked by the revelations. But they said they had never received any complaint about Mr Ferenbach, who became a minister in 1929 and served at Broughty Ferry parish church and as a Navy chaplain before taking up his post in Edinburgh.

The convenver of the Church of Scotland's Board of Social Responsibility, the Rev Bill Wallace, said: ‘We are very disturbed by this distressing story. Such behaviour is unacceptable from anyone, let alone a minister. Had we known of the relationship the matter would have been taken up by our presbytery and the likely outcome would have been the dismissal of the Rev Ferenbach. But as it was no-one ever complained to us and we knew nothing about it.' He added: ‘This is an embarrassment to the church.’

Worshippers at Liberton Parish Church where Mr Ferenbach served until his retiral in 1970, were shocked by the revelations. One parishioner, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Mr Ferenbach was a well-liked man who served the church well. There were rumours of an affair with a woman, but no-one believed them’

George McQueen Yep put me off dentists for years.

Keith Henderson Remember him well; I always thought he was drilling for oil; bet you he was a rich feckin dentist.

David Hamilton Oh feck, I remember him well. Morgan or something like that???

Alan Clark Not that well then.

Andrew Inglis Only too well; brute of a man; he had a house in the Braids near the Braids Golf Course.

Peter Hoffmann FORE!

Heather Rose Scared the hell out of me. Put me off dentist for years.

Ronald Rae I was just debating with someone about that place; my first introduction to Mrs Warwick (the butcher).

Alex Rae Still have fillings 50 years later.

Colin Moxey She was brutal. She took four of my teeth out in one session and loved every minute. I still have flashbacks about going in and out of consciousness with the dodgy gas she was like a bad acid trip!

Lynda Mooney Did that to me too.

Kim Elizabeth Grassick Me too; she slapped me on the face when I spat blood on the floor as I was disoriented as a result of being under that terrible gas.

Colin Moxey I can remember my mum having to virtually carry me up the road after that ordeal. I coughed up blood for hours.

Law Orr I went to the dentist next to the doctors at Oxgangs, all I remember is a nasty man who shouted at you for being scared and crying out as his assistants held you down, as he put this huge black, stinking of rubber, mask over your face till you passed

Karen Alexander OMG all the horrid stories of dentists; I am 57 and still terrified.

Diane Collins No but I remember the one next to McAllister Cottage; the woman there was a butcher.

Yvonne Thomson I remember the school dentist at Firrhill – horrible.

Pat Small My mum worked there. She clean the place both morning & night along with six kids through the day. When I think back she must have been exhausted.

Lynda Mooney Aaarrggghhh! Remember him unfortunately!! Wasn’t very child/teen friendly! My teeth still haven’t recovered; Miss Warwick too!! She’d spray tweed perfume in the gas mask which smelled worse than the gas! Put me off dentists for many years!! X

Kim Elizabeth Grassick Oh my days, look how young Jill looks, witch of a woman!!

Fraz Jacobs Is Miss Warwick the girl on the right?

Sandra Young Dark haired in middle.

Fraz Jacobs Sandra, who was the blonde girl? I’m sure it was her I saw?

Sandra Young Fraz Jacobs not sure but I think she was a dental nurse not a dentist.

Deanna Deans I feel humble that I had still have good teeth lol! - nae smart comments!

Paul Duncan Absolute bastard !! My big brother bit him and was barred, smart bugger!

Yvonne Thomson I wouldn't open my mouth to the school dentist and got a slap of him horrible man

James Fegan Hated going there.

Angela Gollan Don't remember which one but I bit one of them.

John McDonaugh Tooth out tomorrow.

Paul Purvis Yip, me too; can’t remember his name; began with a C ended in a T.

Vanessa Campbell School dentist for me was Mr Allan at the Firrhill site. I will never forget my mother taking me as a young girl. I had 3 baby teeth taken out as my big teeth were coming through. He put a Dr White sanitary towel looped on from one ear to the other to soak up the slavers ‘n blood. WTF lol

Peter Hoffmann At the time I think he was going through a bad period.

Karen Alexander Lol Vanessa; I remember getting teeth pulled and the same day my Mum arranges to have a photographer come round to the house; well I had a swollen mouth and was numb; Paul and Bri looked great but big sis struggled to smile, lol xx. I was only about 10.

Vanessa Campbell Awe you’d still look cute with these big brown eyes.

Karen Alexander Maybe.

Vanessa Campbell Awe you’d still look cute with these big brown eyes.

Karen Alexander Maybe.

Karen Alexander Dean with her two brothers

Karen Alexander This one Vanessa, swollen mouth and two wee brothers that looked so cute; still remember being told to smile; hard to do when you’ve got a sore mouth, lol xx.

Vanessa Campbell Awe, wee darlings.

Julie Stevens Oh yes and you're right he was a feckin butcher. I've no back teeth because of that sadist; I'm sure he was selling them on the black market.

The Wednesday Profile #3 Jim Blyth's Memories of Oxgangs

Nearby Oxgangs prefabs

I grew up in the prefabs; we moved in around 1951 and lived in Oxgangs Place.

The prefab was very cold in the winter; the only heating was from a coal fire in the living room; the bedrooms and bathroom were freezing especially in the winter. Rain pouring down on the tin roof was a great sound as were birds hopping across the roof; when it thundered the whole house shook. Opposite our prefab was George Liddle's the joiner who was moved up to Oxgangs Bank just east of the Broadway shops in the early 1960's. 

To get down-town we took the number 4 bus; later came the number 27 and years later the number 16.

We had to walk to the Braid Hills Hotel to the tram terminus to get to Brunstfield, Tolcross etc. 

Photograph, Graeme Paterson

We used to play football in the park on Sunday afternoon with guys coming from all over, usually Hearts supporters against Hibs supporters. Gordon Marshall (Hearts) John Grant, Johnny McLeod (Hibs) all lived within 100 yards of each other on Colinton Mains Drive.

There used to be a farm behind Dr Motley's and I would crawl through the hedge and steal turnips from the field. 

George Liddle the joiner installed the bell in Colinton Mains Church and I was the first person to ring the bell in the church. Beside the church on Oxgangs Road North the brick building used to be the local store with wooden floors; there was also a butcher at one end; it was later used as changing rooms for the footballers in the park.

Oxgangs Dental Practice a decade later; photograph courtesy Sandra Young

I worked in the dental building at the corner of Oxgangs Road North and Oxgangs Farm Drive making false teeth; there was lots of business in Oxgangs at the time.

Photograph, courtsey Douglas Blades taken from the balcony at 6/6 Oxgangs Avenue

I think the prefabs were knocked down in 1964 and we were moved to Oxgangs Crescent. I later moved to Canada in the late 1960's.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Sunday Post #3 On the Cusp of the Year and the Return to School

Whilst summer is not quite yet on the heels of early autumn, still the above scene signifies the dreaded return to school after the summer holidays and the start of a new autumn school term. 

The photograph taken up at Swanston Road with the T Woods in the background on the lower slopes of the Pentland Hills and a local farm worker atop a cart and horse carrying hay making gentle progress up the slope on a golden afternoon hints at the cusp when summer very slowly moves toward autumn.

It was on such afternoons throughout the 1960s and on to 1972 that I along with the other twenty four children from the stair at 6 Oxgangs Avenue contemplated our return to the classroom. 

And yet perversely, quite often the weather remained similarly fine and sunny which made it a struggle to return to stifling classrooms at Hunters Tryst, Firrhill and Boroughmuir schools. Those of us with an awareness of the English system would be envious that our peers across the border wouldn't return until September, which seems much more sensible.

For most of the kids we didn't really want to go back, even if by the back end of the holidays being off school had perhaps lost a little of its sparkle. 

I've no doubt though that a few others like Gavin Swanson (6/1 Oxgangs Avenue) who were more studious actually looked forward to the start of the autumn term and the new school academic year. I don't think I ever did, but there was always a certain 'buzz' about going back. 

The boys had visited the hairdresser at Oxgangs Broadway for a Ben Mackenzie haircut - Michael; Boo-Boo; Brian and Alan Hanlon will have had their number ones, whilst Iain Hoffmann and I had our hair plastered down with Ben's famous jungle juice. 

For those with new schoolbags (and that unforgettable smell of leather) or new school clothes and ties or perhaps those going up to secondary for the first time, many will recall these days with a mixture of excitement and pleasure, but pain might be too extreme a word choice!

Many of us were keen to squeeze the last drops from the summer fruits and as the countdown began we managed to play amongst the hay in the fields at Swanston; have grass fights with the mown grass in the front garden of 6/2 Oxgangs Avenue; or late evening games of kick-the can or British Bulldog up at the field.

Bike runs were still taking place - I note that on the 11th August 1972, Paul Forbes (Oxgangs Place); Boo-Boo Hanlon (6/7 Oxgangs Avenue); Iain Hoffmann and I cycled from Oxgangs down through Arthur's Seat to Portobello whilst young Colin Hanlon cycled so far. 

Photograph, Wullie Croal

There was still a certain continuity in our lives as milk runs and paper runs were still being undertaken, because not many of us from the stair went away on holiday.

For a few summers we enjoyed our mini-Olympics at the army's former running track at Redford Barracks which were great fun. We might even manage a final visit to go jumping the burn at Colinton Mains through to the Braid-Burn Valley, but by then the grass and wild flowers and weeds and nettles had perhaps become too overgrown. 

And if it was wet, Iain, Paul and I would enjoy card games with members of the Blades family or play mischievously with their giant tape-recorder with Paul blowing great rasps onto the tape.

Four of the six Blades girls and Anne Hoffmann circa 1963

The cusp of the year was further illustrated and articulated through the school calendar.

But on reflection, what was truly lovely about the summer was that it brought many of us at the stair together whilst school would unfortunately divide us. 

At the start of the autumn term the Duffys (6/8) returned to St Augustine's whilst the Hanlons (6/7); the Hoggs (6/4); Norman Stewart (6/3); the Swansons (6/1); and the Hoffmanns were divided up between Boroughmuir; Firrhill; the Royal High; and of course Hunters Tryst. 

The cusp was thus metaphorical and literal.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

A Pastime From Time Past #21 School Part-Time Jobs

Graeme Robb: Like a lot of our generation if you wanted anything you got a job. My first job was delivering papers for Ewarts Newsagents (Oxgangs Broadway) - quite a good round with everything above Ewarts i.e. Caiystane, Swanston, Oxgangs Road up to Fairmilehead Crossroads providing good Christmas tips. Then sweeping up and stacking shelves in the chemist at Oxgangs Road North now The Chip Inn. The best job I had was washing dishes at the Hunters Tryst Inn - a good laugh. I remember the fist things that I bought with my paper money - T. Rex,  Ride a White Swan and Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child - I still have them both.

George Fraser: I worked in the Hunter's Tryst too, washing dishes - a good job, but all the chefs were toss-pots. I can remember a fellow dishwasher - when a plate came back with a bit of fillet steak on it he ate it; I will not name him and it wasn't me. I was disgusted - all I will say is he was from the Oxgangs Farm side of the area!

Ruth Kaye (Blades): Yes I delivered papers for Ewarts too.

June Rafferty: My husband John Rafferty cleaned at Hunters Tryst before he left school

John McDonaugh: I also washed pots and dishes and cleaned at the HT - enjoyed the occasional knocked bottle of beer as well!

Audrey Dixon (McLean): My god when l was about 13 l worked at Hunters Tryst pot washing - had some great laughs.I also worked at the woollen mill shop in Morningside on Saturdays and during the holidays. In the summer-time I was at Toni's Cafe down Leith at weekends and on a Sunday; he would take me to the beach where I manned the ice cream and sweet trailer. The first record l bought was Marc Bolan's l Love to Boogie.

Peter Hoffmann: Nice post -  #70sSummer

Laurence Calder: I delivered milk at Gemmells Dairy 223 Morningside Road during the week and behind the counter. I carried on at weekends once left school up until I was 20. The owners then bought the Kildonan Lodge Hotel at Craigmiller Park and I worked there at weekends for many years. My first job was an apprentice draughtsman at Mackenzie & Moncur at 49 Balcarres Street Morningside for five years. I also played rhythm guitar in The Paper Chase from 1966 until 1970.

Paper Chase and Friends. Tiny Burns; Mike Jarvie; Howard Anstruther; Duncan Mathews; Laurence Calder; Billy Wilson; John Kennedy and Douglas Miller.

Lisa Sibbald: I had a couple of jobs when I was about 14. I delivered the local free paper - think it was maybe the Edinburgh Advertiser in these days. I covered most (or it might have been all) of the Oxgangs Farm streets. Hard work, but well paid. In fact, it was so well paid that I used to pay some of the younger kids to run up and down the stairs for me! I also was an agent for Cancer and Polio football coupons. I used to have to go round to the people who took part in them and collect the money. I can't imagine a 14 year old doing that sort of job these days. The army houses at Dreghorn were part of my round and I remember one particular house I called at where the wife was usually out at the bingo and the husband never had any money. I'd end up having to go back again the next day.

George Fraser:  I delivered the Edinburgh Post in 1972, paid £1.20 to deliver 500 and I had two of the high flats at Firrhill.

Lisa Sibbald: It would have been 1972 for me too, so must have been the Edinburgh Post.

George Fraser: To be honest I can't really remember if they all got delivered.

Dougie Begbie: I delivered papers for Ewarts aged 13 then at 14 years old I delivered milk for Murchies Creameries Ltd, Lochrin Place. I then worked for Edinburgh Dairies - John Clement was a driver for Edinburgh Dairies; I met him years later and he reminded me that I bumped him - gladly he doesn't hold a grudge!

Yvonne Thomson: I delivered papers at Oxgangs Park and Oxgangs Road for Ewarts; I can't remember how much we got - 5 shillings or maybe not.

Morningside Road, Scotsman Publications Ltd.

Carole Shearer: I worked in the Orchard at Morningside (now Boots the Chemist) on Monday Thursday and Friday after school and all day Saturday, during the school holidays I was full-time there or at their shop in Dundee Street. i worked alongside Diane and Marion Watson and Moira Wilson.

Colin Laidlaw: I delivered papers for Ewart's, but was called 'Sleepy-Joe' by Ian; thereafter as I was always late.

Dougie Begbie: Was that the afternoon delivery ha ha!

Del Trotter: Same way for me to - I think we all did.