Perhaps the most remarkable story of all the individuals at Oxgangs during the 1960s was that of Dr Motley. I always thought he looked amazing. As a wee boy, he would have been the first black man that I had seen. I couldn't take my eyes off him. The fact that he was a different colour to me - black to my white; then there were his hands, I noticed too the contrast of his palms which were a much lighter colour. And of course there was his voice-a lovely, deep, rich, American sound; with a sweet cadence, musicality and deep mellifluousness which was something to hear and behold.
|Arthur Motley 1928|
The big question is why he came back to Edinburgh to set up a practice. Again, surmising, it is likely that this was because he had met his wife, Annette. She was the daughter of a shopkeeper who sold tobacco and confectionery. The shop was close to his digs and he'd met her there. I would imagine this must have been why he chose to stay in Edinburgh; my mother said that he loved Edinburgh-good taste!
Front row, the author; Dr Motley; Mrs Anne Duncan with the equally remarkable, Rev Jack Orr-two men who made an outstanding community contribution to Oxgangs
Mother doesn't recall ever seeing his daughter, Annette. I thought that I had, but my memory may be playing tricks. Was she black, white or mixed race heritage? Was she sent away to a boarding school and therefore wasn't in Oxgangs very much? She married someone from Scandinavia-possibly Sweden and settled there.
She may have become estranged from her father and possibly quite bitter toward him. Towards the end of his life she wrote to him and made an attempt to get back in touch, but Dr Motley said that although he intended to leave most everything to her, he felt it was too late in the day and that there had been too much water under the bridge. My mother thinks that back in the 1980s grandchildren came to visit him and he took them for a tour of Edinburgh on the top deck of the Number 32 bus which had a circular route.
Comment From Neil: Great article Peter, thank you. Dr Motley was always a classy person, we were fortunate to have him in Oxgangs. Your article got me thinking about the dentist - Dr Russell, if my memory serves me correctly. Never had a problem going to Dr Motley but hated every visit to the dentist, Dr Russell!
Response: Aye-I can empathise-I did a swift paragraph on Mr Russell when I was wrapping up the The Stair back on 23 December, 2012. A charming book well worth searching out is Leaves From The Lives Of A Country Doctor by Clement Gunn set in Peebleshire a century or so ago-a rather lovely read-you won't be disappointed! :-)
I was happy to find and read about my grandfather Dr Arthur Motley here on your blog! Amazing to read and see pictures of him. He was a wonderful grandpa. He taught me 'grandpa stick it up yo jumpa' 'I dene kene but canna whackum' He would test us again and again if we remembered who invented the telephone and the raincoat.
All the best
I lived at 52 Oxgangs Farm Drive, my mother still lives there today and has since my dad built the house in 1957. I have just returned from a visit there over Christmas. Dr. Motley made a big impression on my early life: he was statuesque, kind and dapper. His name for me was 'small fry' and he always said 'You are the bonniest of all the Mckennas'. His surgery, McAllister Cottage, was a pleasure to visit. It had skittles in red leather in the surgery and I never understood why they were there. We had little knowledge of race relations in Edinburgh at that time and Dr Motley was the only black person I knew as a child and that felt like a gift. I think he had a bike in the early days. I have many happy memories of my Oxgangs childhood and would be good to hear from others.
When I was 15 I did this drawing from a photograph of him.