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'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

Oxgangs - A Pastime From Time Past #23 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's -  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 Firrhill 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 used...it 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.

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.

Eve Chalmers I loved when the mouthwash lady came on a Thursday afternoon . We used to see who could make the most bubbles in the cup 

Marylin Williams It wasn't Mr Russell. He was on Oxgangs Road North next to the Farm Drive. He was a great dentist.

David Arthur He had the wee dug wandering around (charcoal Spaniel ). He drilled right through one of my back teeth once ....I hated him !!!






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