Morningside, in Edinburgh, has many obscure interesting nooks and by-ways and none are better known than the profusion of biblical names that cover a stretch of the east side of Morningside Road from around the Dominion Cinema down to the clock. Here sit the Canaan Lanes, the Jordan River, Nile Groves and Little Egypts. Edens and Harmonys.
The names just pour out from homes and dead ends. Even to the extent of that small and most definitely un-regarded patch of semi abandoned ground opposite the Canny Man. Here um, a bog standard concrete built nineteen sixties public lavy has sat unpleasant, cold, drafty, unloved. It has no value to the local architecture or history beyond its name. Unless you had a need to stand ankle deep in wind-blown litter to score a ten pound bag, or take up some grubby liaison there was not much to attract. For here in Morningside you see, even the lavies are in Paradise.
Suddenly this plot has taken on a life of its own. People have become interested, nay even to the point of being vocal and giving their opinion on Morningside’s Facebook page.
Last year the Council strapped for any cash following their disastrous Tram project started scratching about down the back of the sofa of their finances and decided to flog off this dreary piece of real estate. And that was when Morningside awoke in horror to the idea that someone might actually buy this dilapidated eyesore and then threaten to build a block of flats there. Flats! In Morningside? As if! The idea was utterly repugnant. The “I love Morningside” Facebook site was communally aghast.
But looking at the planned development above, it fits in well and certainly much better than a nasty cheaply build 1960’s public shunky that half the local residents seem never even to have known existed. There were objections that it has no “local idiom” when it is a tenement block placed right next to ah, um, a tenement block in a magnificent collection of tenements that gives Morningside Road its essential canyon feel. Morningside Road was always a mixed selection of interesting tenement types and this one would fit in well. In any event Canaan Lane was always a bit mixed. There is the pub on the opposite side from the proposed development, and then what was once a Police Station, and in later years became a home brew shop.
Not that further up the street had much in the way of outstanding charm. Falcon House was replaced in the 1960s by some fairly standard and deeply uninteresting blocks, and further over, towards St Peters there are some remarkably undistinguished 1930 tenement blocks.
Maybe if they call the flats Paradise Regained it would become acceptable?
Copyright David Macadam 2017