'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

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Village Springs Up Overnight and the Never-ending Circle of Life

Cosmetically, a little worn and neglected, 6 Oxgangs Avenue still looks okay today almost sixty years on since it would have been built. Building work must have commenced around the year I was born, 1956. I don’t know what the expected lifespan of these buildings was as they weren’t built of the fine old sandstone of the Victorian or Edwardian flats at Morningside, Bruntsfield and Marchmont. No doubt there will be records of the Edinburgh Corporation at the time. As suggested earlier I assume it will have been part of the legacy of the Labour government which came into power after the Second World War and Beveridge’s  proposals to end the general poverty that had impacted on much of Britain. That said I suspect it will have been Tory Administrations at the council who implemented them?

6 Oxgangs Avenue was a block of eight flats - there was four such blocks located at the far end of Oxgangs Avenue where it formed a T junction with Oxgangs Road North. 

Five of the flats had two bedrooms whilst three had three bedrooms, with balconies - unfortunately these were north facing - please excuse another pun, but not very bright!

Oxgangs Street (Gazetteer for Scotland)
Oxgangs Park
Of course there were far more people living in the area because these flats were surrounded by other properties. On the other side of Oxgangs Road North, along Oxgangs Farm Drive were slightly older blocks of Council flats containing six flats i.e. a ground floor with a first and a second floor, whereas our flats had a third floor. Much nearer, off Oxgangs Street at Oxgangs Park, were a series of rows of blocks of flats identical to those at Oxgangs Farm Avenue.

'Prefabs' at Oxgangs Avenue - photo taken by Douglas Blades 6/6 Oxgangs Avenue from his balcony - rather wonderful that Douglas captured this moment in time - perhaps the only record of this significant change to Oxgangs
Prefabricated House in Edinburgh (Photo by Ron Ross, Ontario, Canada)

Across from us were what was called the Prefabs - small tin cottages that had been thrown up after the war. They were very quaint, but regarded as a temporary way of housing families. There were 229 located in Oxgangs, now all gone. The ones at Oxgangs Avenue were all torn down in the 1960s and replaced by modern flats. My best friend, Paul Forbes, lived in one of the cottages. When the flats were being built the building site was a great adventure playground - at one time we even had a key to one of the new flats!

Directly behind our block was a small enclosed field, only used for bonfires. Behind this field lay an area of park land where we played hundreds if not thousands of games of football. Children can no longer play football there as the young trees which were planted in the 1970s have thrived and grown. I'm unsure how they ever survived local children' attentions. It actually looks very pleasant, but is an atypical example of a lack of communication with the residents - removing a leisure asset and replacing it with something else - Big Brother knows best.

The field, now small wood, forms a boundary between the road and the five rows of two blocks of identical flats on the other side, which are approached from Oxgangs Street. Thus, there were fourteen identical blocks of flats with eight families in each, making for a grand total of one hundred and twelve families - probably around four hundred people - the size of a village, who all arrived around the same time - the late 1950s, to begin a new chapter, forming new friendships, growing up, living together - many of whom will have spent their whole life there and are still there today; others who will have died there and the many others who left and moved away as they approached and reached adulthood to begin a new life for themselves - the never-ending circle of life..

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