'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

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 Patsy's wee shop is still going strong, since her grandfather (T.H. Downes) 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 West Mill Road kitchen window on the other side of the Water of Leith.

Today I looked in to buy some bananas for tomorrow’s Dundee Duel - note the old worldly till - 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. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yes very nice memories. I lived in Pentland Ave as a boy, and recall the gardens on Gillespie Rd. As we moved up from South London it was all very novel. I think Mum bought things at the groceries and I can remember going in there. There was a smell of maybe fresh cabbage. Now I live in Australia where there is nothing like this.