Demolition · Music · Pubs

Gorgie sights…

It was The Green Tree, then it was Robertson’s, then it was something else, then finally, with a dreadful air of self-parody, The Gorgie Bar.
Now boarded up and with work going on inside…

Gorgie Bar Edinburgh

…to make it into a branch of the Co-op’s Funeralcare business.

It will definitely be a much more jovial and lively place than any incarnation of the pub.

Co-op Funeralcare Edinburgh Gorgie

Meanwhile, at Murrayfield stadium (aka BT Murrayfield) they’re getting so excited by the prospect of a few multi-millionaires banging out some blues-rock on June 9 that Jon Pasche’s classic two-dimensional design has once again been twisted, meretriciously, into this shadow of itself…

Rolling Stones Murrayfield Jim Pasche

Why two? Why now (well, actually a few weeks ago)? At upward of £400 for good tickets, I’ll probably not being investigating much more closely.

Demolition · Music

Demolition of North Merchiston Church

A while back I mentioned that I had taken lots of pictures of the demolition of North Merchiston Church in 1988.
I got a scanner to scan them, in much the same way that all these years ago I bought my first 35mm camera to take the pictures, an Olympus Trip.
As you can see, I was a bit late in getting to the demolition site. The top part of the church was gone as was most of the interior, including the business end where the altar and pulpit were.
Here’s a picture of what was the entry to the church, on Slateford Road, taken pretty much from the top of the street where I live now.
Behind that pinky/orange double door were several steps leading up to the vestibule of the church.

Blue sky Merchiston

The picture below is taken looking up Hermand Crescent and shows that the back end of the church was already gone.  The door to the vestry was just at the end of here.

I did manage to salvage a small pane of glass from the stained glass windows at the top of the picture.

Edinburgh Merchiston

Standing about the same place, but now looking toward the top of Robertson Avenue…the building across the road is no longer there.

Merchiston Edinburgh red car

Always the thinking man’s idiot, I ignored the sign warning me of danger and went inside to get some pictures (a real, ecclesiastical Tim Page, me.)
The wall on the right here has the Slateford railway line on the other side of it and I’m looking toward Slateford Road from the area about where the vestry would have been, about half way up the start of Hermand Terrace. The yellow/pink fire door at the far end was the escape route from the church hall.

Demolition Merchiston Edinburgh

This is what was left of the interior of the church, taken from about where the altar would have been. In this picture and the one below, we can clearly see where the balcony was, although I don’t think that’s actually the correct church-architecture word for the raised seated area at the back.

Rubble Merchiston

Blue Merchiston

The interior of the church hall.

Church Demolition Edinburgh

This was taken just before a big lump of stone fell a few feet away from me…again, the back of the church.

Fire extinguisher Merchiston

The organ was about here and that’s the inner door leading to the vestry on the left…

Demolition Merchiston Church

I seem to have managed to get the remains of the back of the church and a bit of the vestibule here, again, looking toward Slateford Road.

Demolition North Merchiston Church

When the church was levelled, the new building which replaced it was a GP’s surgery for a while, but was thereafter converted into flats.

Demolition · Music · Pubs

The Music Group…

The Music Group North Merchiston Church

 When I arrived back from the Christmas holidays, I was delighted to have received this CD from a dear friend.
North Merchiston Church was at the top of the street where I live now – I attended from childhood until my late teens. During and beyond that time, I played in The Music Group mentioned on the sleeve. We would play at Christmas and other festival services in the church, at old peoples’ homes and hospitals – it was fun and yet another example of the Church of Scotland’s role as social adhesive in the latter part of the 20th century.  Some of us had discovered pubs as well.
The musical performances herein are not as bad as I feared or remembered – they’re a lot better, in fact. The sound is pretty good given that they were all recorded on a 1960’s cassette recorder which would be planked on top of the church organ.
The church was demolished in 1988 – as happened with many Scottish churches, the size of the congregation had fallen so much that necessary repairs to the fabric of the building could no longer be afforded and North Merchiston church joined congregations with St Michael’s, about five minutes walk along the road.  Here’s a recent picture of the frankly imposing St Mike’s…

 St. Michael's Church Edinburgh

Predictably, I have loads of great photos of the demolition, which I must scan and add to this blog – in fact, I bought my first 35mm camera precisely for the purpose of taking these pictures. It is impossible to find any good pictures of the church on the Internet – the aerial picture on the front of the CD is as good as it gets.

Demolition · Music · Pubs

Leith Depot

I had a pint the other night with my friend John in Leith Depot at the foot of Leith Walk.  Nice place, with nice staff.  Could have been warmer, but it was snowing outside.

Leith Depot Leith Walk

The reason for the name is that the pub is opposite the site of the former Leith Depot of the Edinburgh Corporation Transport, where my dad used to work. He was a bus inspector and used to schedule the buses that left from and eventually arrived back at Leith Depot. He was nicknamed The Cruelty Man for the length of the shifts he used to assign to drivers and conductors on the buses.

The picture below is of the entrance to what used to be the office – I was surprised to see it was built as recently as 1938.  That office used to be thick with smoke and contraband stuff from Leith docks.

It was the only building still intact the other night, all the buildings in subsequent pictures have now been demolished since I luckily took these pictures on 16 June last year…

1938 Leith Depot office

…when I went to see the magnificent Kim Edgar play her only Edinburgh show of 2017 in the pub. It was the “rock Kim” version of her offer, augmented by Steffen Wutzke on bass and Christian Haas-Lachmann on drums, who played like mothers and had familiarised themselves so well with Kim’s songs.

I think these buildings were where the buses were garaged.

Bus wash Leith Depot

When it ceased to be a bus depot, the Social Work department used it.

Dept of Social Work Transport Section Leith Walk

I think this used to be the recreation area. Most Sundays, if I went to visit my dad at work, he was playing snooker in here.  Don’t know who did the murals or why they chose these subjects.

Leith Murals

They used to wash the buses in here as well.

Bush wash Leith

Demolition · Pubs

The Horseshoe, Gorgie Road

Horseshoe Inn Gorgie Road

The latest edition of CAMRA’s Pints of View magazine reports that The Horseshoe is due for demolition.

This is very unfortunate.  Not only is it a great pub with McEwan’s 70 shilling, it is cheap and has a vibrant beer garden.  Worse, this is allegedly Gorgie’s oldest building (opposite the soon-to-be renovated Saughton rose gardens;) say what you like about the pub, as lots of people do, often, but I think it’s a handsome building which will be a loss.

Horseshoe Inn Gorgie

Just a bit along the road is this building; it was the Roxy Cinema until 1963, then a bingo hall, you can see that the art deco frontage has been retained. John Lennon allegedly used to go there when he visited his uncle in Edinburgh. I guess it’s possible, but there must have been easier cinemas to get to from Murrayfield.

Old Roxy Cinema Gorgie

Demolition

Unloved

Here are some pictures of the demolition of the unloved St James Centre at the top of Leith Street.  Built the end of the 1960s, it was always more Altamont than Woodstock, nobody seemed to have a good word for it.

St James Centre demolition - Altamont or Edinburgh?

Toward the left of this picture was where the HMV Shop was.  It was so small it had no staffroom and so staff used to be given an allowance to go out and buy lunch.  Even into the 1990s it had the highest takings per square foot of any store in the chain.

Demolition of St James Centre - the old HMV

Demolition in Edinburgh - The King James hotel pleading stop

The King James hotel seems to be pleading…

St James Centre demolition Edinburgh

I worked in “the Centre” for a couple of years and it was indeed a joyless bunker from the outside.  But I once got an almost complete catalogue of Graham Central Station albums from one of the frequent sales of US cut-outs in the aforementioned HMV.

As seen below, there is no restraint in building the new hotel/retail complex which will replace the old centre.  It doesn’t look too much like an improvement on the red-headed stepchild it replaces so far.

St James Centre building work

Here is an artist’s impression of what “Edinburgh St James” should eventually look like, with the new hotel complex on the left, the design of which is reminding people of either an unpeeling orange, an unspooling tape or what dog owners might find in tightly coiled piles on the lawn.

Edinburgh, the new St James Centre - artist's impression