Tag Archives: Morningside

Trouble In Paradise

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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




Morningside Farmers’ Market

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Tucked away round the back of Merlin Public House on Morningside Road is one of the more secret Farmer’s markets in Edinburgh, and one of the nicer.

The back car park of the Merlin is a surprisingly large space in crowded Morningside, where on every third Saturday it is transformed into if not a full on Farmer’s market than a local and artisan’s market (which is every bit as good).

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Where there is real engagement between artisan and customer

There is a Fishmonger.  We lost our last one in Morningside a while back when the big boys moved in and pushed them out.  There are even a couple of butchers (yep we don’t have them in Morningside either) which mean a significant improvement on the shoping scene in Morningside.   And please don’t give me that old businessman’s canard about the chain supermarkets having trained Butchers and Fishmongers “in-house”, as we know perfectly well they are just not as well trained or informed as the real thing. These in the Morningside Farmers Market were the actual producers with their own reared meat. Go on, next time you’re in a supermarket ask that “trained” member of staff to tie up a brisket for you and watch the look of lost panic on the child’s face.

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Add to that good greengrocers and cheesemongers, soap sellers, and cake/patisserie vendors who actually make the stuff they sell, and the whole is a vibrant and much needed addition to community life.

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A happy shopper enjoying a day out…

And people enjoy the sense of occasion the feeling of fun that should always be part of shopping. There is none of that false bonhomie from undertrained staff following a script as you get in supermarkets where bored staff wish you to “have a nice day” without holding any eye contact, or that dead lack of communication from the purchasers only too anxious to get out again. These guys knew their stuff and enthused about it. No chance here of the hell of being left to the mercies of a robot telling you about “unexpected items in baggage areas”. Here people actually talk to each other.

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There were even a couple playing acoustic instruments as buskers!
It all made shopping more human and a bit of a pleasure. It was busy and everyone was leaving looking relaxed and happy. It really set up the day. A delight.

Copyright David Macadam 2014


Boar Stone Restored


Following on from my previous post, when it was noted that the old plaque on the plinth below the Boar Stone in Morningside Road had been removed I can now happily report that it has been returned refreshed, reguilded and repainted.  And very fine it looks too.  A credit in this 500th anniversary year of the Battle of Flodden.


Copyright David Macadam 2013

Where Is The Bore Stone Memorial?


The road descending from Churchill to Morningside Station was probably old long before the Romans used it to come down to the Forth.  Edward I in 1298 marched up here and then turned west toward Falkirk.  It was therefore fitting, if not entirely historically accurate, that the side of the road should be the home to one of Morningside’s best loved memorials.


The Bore stane or stone, you pick, sits high on a plinth built into the wall of the old Morningside Parish Church on the junction of Morningside Road and Newbattle Terrace commemorates a muster that is said took place on the burgh muir where James IV set up his battle standard before the all marched down the road to Flodden five hundred years ago.

To commemorate and remind us about this frankly unprepossessing stone a bronze tablet  was placed on the plinth.

The Incription Reads:

‘In which the Royal Standard was last pitched for the muster of the Scottish army on the Borough Muir before the Battle of Flodden,1513.

It long lay in the adjoining field, was then built into the wall near this spot and finally placed here by Sir John Stuart Forbes of Pitsligo, 1852.

Highest and midmost was desiret,
The Royal Banner floating wide,
The staff a pine tree strong and straight,
Pitch’d deeply in a massive stone,
Which still in memory is shown,
Yet bent beneath the Standards weight

But to my horror I saw today that the plaque has gone.  Nothing is left but holes.  Where has the memorial gone?  Has it been taken away for re-gilding and restoration suitable for its part in the remembrance of Flodden 500?  Has it been spirited away to feed the dark metal fires of China?  Was it stolen as a historical artefact to be held ransom until the City gives up on the Trams project?


The complete stone and memorial.

We should be told!  That, and when they will finally get round to opening the library again!

Copyright David Macadam

The Hanging Stones


Just up Braid Road, heading south from Morningside Station at about number 66 Braid Road, lie two sets of stones seen cut under the tarmac of the road surface. They represent one of the more gruesome aspects of Edinburgh history.

These are the foundations stones of a pair of gibbets from which were conducted one of the last public hangings in Edinburgh.


Back in November 1814 two Irish immigrants Thomas Kelly and Henry O’Neil robbed one David Loch, a carter, in broad daylight at the point where the stones stand.  Given the ill-feeling of those days to Irish immigrants the jury found no trouble in finding them guilty without even the need to retire to consider their verdict.

Thereafter in an act of almost medieval theatre of the macabre they were led from their incarceration in a procession of the condemned, Police, the High Constables of Edinburgh City, city officials all decked out in their finery and complete with ancient halberds, Magistrates and ministers of the Church of Scotland, a Catholic priest and any number of local hangers on and ghouls, walking the three miles from the city centre to the newly erected gibbets; and all in a tremendous snowstorm.


Thereafter we are told by no less than R L Stevenson, their bodies were wrapped in chains and left swinging off the scaffold for years as a warning.

There are those in Morningside today who might vote to see the stones used again as foundations of gibbets for that species of latter-day highway robbers – the plague of Council Parking Wardens trading on the locals being unable to spot the hidden signage or distinguish where the damn parking bays are.

Copyright David Macadam 2013