Memories of Juniper Green

Irene Thomson remembers...

Coming to Juniper Green

My parents moved out here to Juniper Green after being married in 1919 when housing was very difficult. They rented accommodation in Belmont Road at St Ann's Park or St Ann's Mount.

Violet Bank is just one of the houses with the name of a flower found on Belmont Road

When I was still at Chesser we came up for a Sunday School picnic here in Bloomiehall Park. I remember walking along Belmont Road and looking at the names of the houses and cottages like Daisy Cottage and saying "How nice" and that's before I came here in 1936.

We came back to Juniper Green in December 1936. My father had taken a liking to Juniper Green partly because he was a keen hill walker. When they lived in Juniper Green first they would go down on Sundays to visit my grandmother as was expected in those days. She lived down at Ardmillan and they would walk with the pram down there and back again.

My father had a joinery business in Ardmillan and he worked a lot with Mr Turner the builder in Juniper Green. My father wanted ground to build a house but there was never any ground available. Eventually, Mr Turner produced this house and said I think this house will be good for you. That was Ardenlea. A lot of work had to be done on it though I'm sure there was electricity in the house. I can remember coming out at weekends before we moved on cold December days and my parents were scraping wallpaper off the walls and I'm sure I would have remembered if it had been gas. We weren't the first residents as it was built around the turn of the century. My father bought it from a Mr Steel.

We used to go down to the library at Colinton through Mossie Mill and that was very beautiful. Every Sunday we would go out for a walk, everybody did. We would cross the bridge on the river at the start of our walks to Torduff, Clubbiedean and other places on the hills. We would all go out as a family. We didn't have special shoes or anything like that. You went as you were. I have a picture of myself, parents, cousin and uncle and aunt on the bridge wearing my Panama hat and "going for a walk".

Juniper Green in the war

The Village Hall in Juniper Green still has a rifle club which remains active in 2007

My father would go down to his business at Ardmillan by car. When the car was laid up during the Second War he would travel by train. My father was in the Home Guard here in Juniper Green meeting in the village hall. All I remember is him going out in his uniform. He was very involved with the rifle club and he continued shooting in the club after the War. My father had been an officer in the First World War but a Sergeant in the Home Guard. He was Alexander Thomson as was my brother and grandfather. I was named after my mother's mother and have her names as my middle names. I was born in the same year as the Queen but not in the same month. I was born in February 1926.

I was going up and down to school by bus, to Edinburgh Ladies College on Queen Street, but during the War the two girls' schools combined with the two boys' schools so I went to Watson's on Colinton Road and cycled there. I think that school did not get started until late October that first year as I remember a Miss Armstrong, a gym teacher at Watson's Girls setting me work to do when I was not going to school. She lived in Sunnyside on Lanark Road at the corner of Woodhall Drive. Finally, they got us sorted out and the boys and the girls alternated for half a day - going for something like 8am - 1pm and 1pm - 5pm and Saturdays as well. It may have been for a month at a time or just a week at a time before we switched to the other time.

Early in the war some friends and I, about six of us, met in each others' houses to knit for service men. As a guide during the War I earned my War Service badge. Later on in the War I helped with the mobile canteen. We went out to the ack-ack batteries that were all over the Pentlands but were mainly on the other side of the hills on the West Linton road. If we were lucky we got a cream (not real cream) cookie at the end of the shift as our reward.

I recall the blackouts and some bad air raids. At home we didn't have a shelter but my Mother and I sheltered in the corner of our living room because there was not an outside wall there. I remember too my Mother having our valuables in our tin bread bin. My Mother and I were on our own because my brother was away at the war and my father was doing his Home Guard duties.

My last two years at school during the summer I went to a forestry camp. We worked very hard but they were good camps. The first year we were in Dunkeld on the Duke of Atholl's estate and we worked on the larch trees taking off many of the branches. School had gone berry picking but I preferred to go to the forestry camp and I had to get special permission to be allowed to do that.

I remember wearing my mother's navy dress with white spots at a University Hop when the War ended. I had something red, white and blue to be patriotic too. We all had to make do and mend.

Belmont Road

A view down Belmont Road looking East

The houses in Belmont Road acquired numbers during the war. Across from us was Grove Place but today it is known as 15 Belmont Road. Prior to that we knew the houses by their names. Woodhall Terrace houses seem always to have numbers. We had very nice neighbours, Mrs Clark who was a widow by the time of the War. Her unmarried son lived with her and her daughter with 3 children came home from Malaysia when her husband was taken as a prisoner of war.

Characters in the village

The ladies who lived opposite us in Belmont Road in Mayfield Cottage were a Miss Lindsay and a Miss Hunter with the latter housekeeping for the former. She was something like a clerkess or secretary at one of the mills. Miss H would open the gate for Miss L in the morning so that she could walk out! Miss Lindsay taught music in the evening. That went on right until Miss Lindsay retired. Next door but one in St Ann's lived the Misses Bryce, who had the dairy on Belmont Avenue.

Dr MacKay bought a piece of land opposite his house and donated it to the City of Edinburgh, the land provided an area of wildlife later preserved by the Juniper Green Village Association in 2006

Dr MacKay lived at Muir House (now Baberton Court) where he consulted. He also had built an adjoining room known as Dr Mackay's Music Room which was used for meetings. I think he was a member of the Oxford Group probably from about the middle 1920s. During the War the room next door was used as a nursing home: A friend from the village remembers being there. It was built as a single storey; the upstairs was not there then.

Dr Peter Gordon lived there before Dr MacKay according to the 1891 census.

Dr Sellar, who was our doctor, practised in the Bield. He had three daughters. His wife died, he married again and had 2 sons and another daughter who were similar ages to his grandchildren. He was a hearty chap. I do remember having some kind of vaccination, maybe for smallpox and Dr Ross was there by then because he had married Ros Sellar. In due course Dr Sneddon joined Dr Ross and they had their surgery in Southernwood and then they set up the Currie Practice.

Jimmy Leishman. He lived in Ashfield which goes at right angles from the lane to the park. He lived in one of the three houses there. The houses are all the same and he may have been responsible for building those three, possibly in the 1930s. I remember him as he wandered around and everyone knew him.

There are four houses on Belmont Road that look all the same and obviously built by the same builder. In one of them was the Lucas family, Edwin Lucas was an artistic sort of person. Then in 26 Glen Helen the Misses Gray, two unmarried ladies whose family house it was, then the Lucas' (24), Braehead, then the Clarks (22) Nahant then us ( 20) Ardenlea.

In Juniper Cottage next to the Post Office there was a Miss Watson and she was a dressmaker, she made several things for me. She had twin sisters: identical! They went onto a ripe old age. There was a younger brother who married and took his wife there. I think she had a rather hard time.

The Guides and the Tennis club

Camping with the Guides of Juniper Green at Lundin Links in 1950

I ran the 74th guides in Juniper Green. Mrs Reid, the minister's wife was fairly new in the village, and she and I re-started them. I had started as "looty" in 1943 and later became Captain and ran them until I went to Canada in 1953. I got my camper's licence, I was always keen on camping. I returned from Canada in 1955 and I took them again for a few years. At that time Miss Mary Bryce, whose family farmed at Whitelaw, took the Brownies and continued to do so for many years. She was also in charge of the younger children in St Margaret's Sunday School.

The house names in Juniper Green should be recorded. I remember the fete at Walkerfield (where Juniper Grove is now) in aid of the scouts. And one of our big successes for the guides was a penny fair in the garden of our house at Ardenlea. Everything cost one penny.

I was associated with the Tennis Club when I was at school and later. The Tennis Club had fallen on hard times. There was a hard core of people maybe ten years older than me in the Tennis Club and I remember these same ladies performing in 'Little Women' in St Margaret's. They got the tennis club going again during the War.

Annie Montgomery in Cairnbank in Baberton Avenue, Phemie Bird who lived on the Lanark Road. Meg Tod, from Blinkbonny, I think, and one other, who lived in St Ann's cottages. They were all redoubtable women in their late twenties, I suppose, and they were the ones who got the Tennis Club going again. I was just a wee junior cog. My tennis was never very good but I was always keen.

The two coronations

I remember the day of the Coronation in 1953 not being very nice and we had a radio and just listened. As I was born in the same year as the Queen I have always been a Royalist. For the 1937 Coronation I had an uncle with connections in Currie and I recall that there was quite a big celebration in the park up there. I was quite a good runner and I remember winning a jersey in the sports that day.

For shopping we went to Scott's the grocers, father and son. They had two sons who were killed during the War. Miss Scott then went into the shop. She had been a secretary in Queen Street, the Ladies College- maybe she lost her job at school during the War. The Forsyth's next door sold fruit and veg. They were a very crotchety pair: you didn't get a nice smile from them.

My mother went up to the store and used the butcher down in Colinton. Mrs Clark next door had had her meat delivered so my mother phoned up and we got ours delivered too.

I remember Mrs Benson's shop where Baberton Park is now and whose house and shop adjoined Montpelier, the house which was demolished for the Bank. Miss Linton had the shop before her. The Misses Linton, Bell and May, lived at 15 Belmont Road: Grove Place. Another sister married Mr Wallace, the coalman from whom we got our coal.

The timetable of buses serving Juniper Green

As for the buses they went around Belmont Road with the 8 going to Waverley every half hour but we tended to use the SMT for school and they came down from Balerno. So we had a bus perhaps every ten minutes or so. There was the 14 that went to Easter Road and the 15 went to Eastfield. Apparently the 15 was the longest journey for any corporation bus in those days and it cost one penny for me as a child and threepence or threepence ha'penny for an adult to go into town. Gilbert was the conductor on the number 8 and he was a rather strange gentleman. Everyone knew Gilbert on the number 8.

Although I think that there is still a community spirit in Juniper Green, it is not so strong since people are no longer working in or around the village and so walking to work and those who worked in town travelled by bus.