My childhood was in Edinburgh: first in Buckstone and then Bonaly.
I have fond memories of a garden that once delighted me. This garden was on either side of Bonaly burn and was the setting for an old cottage called ‘Laverock Dale’. A small wooden footbridge connected both sides of the garden and led to the front door of the cottage. I recall an elderly woman lovingly tending this garden which was full of colourful perennials. The garden always looked much better cared for than the cottage, which whilst quaint, was run down and in a bad state of repair.
Before this time the cottage was part of a small community known as Bleachfield. In 1841 there were a number of families living here, generally described as laundry workers or paupers. Within the next decade Bleachfield was vacated and by 1851 only one ‘retired’ Laundress and her family were left at Laverock Dale:
The following is the RCAHMS description of Laverock Dale cottage
My Granny, Constance Scott, lived in Thorburn Road [a road named after the wife of Dreghorn Castle]. Granny’s favourite walk, with her dog Barney and then Clova, was up Dreghorn Loan to the Polo fields. In doing so she passed by the beautiful garden of Laverock Dale cottage.
Bonaly burn was a favourite place for me and and my childhood friends. We used to fish the burn for small trout and would collect them in my mum’s cooler box:
The private road from Laverock Dale cottage to the Polo fields was where I first tried my father’s old HONDA ‘Moped’. My father used this Moped to get to work at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fairmilehead:
On the 10th April 1955 – having been ‘torched’ by flame-throwers – Dreghorn castle was blown up.
To play this short film please click here or on the image above.
It was in the grounds of Dreghorn, where the castle once stood, that my mum used to take me to learn to Drive. My mum was a good tutor and I passed my Driving Test at first sitting.
From early teenage years I did paper deliveries and milk runs. My territory was Redford and Dreghorn. So I knew this area ‘inside-out’. I used to deliver papers to this cottage:
This cottage was called Fordel and was the last remaining building of an ancient community:
Fordel cottage was the family home of the Factor of Dreghorn, David Girdwood Jnr. His father, David Girdwood Snr, was the Estate gardener:
Every time that I now pass where Fordel cottage once stood I think of it. I recall the building of the Edinburgh bypass. Before it was opened, along with my friends, we used it as a skateboard-super-highway!
Returning to Laverock Dale. It was originally thatched [Ordnance Survey book 1850s]:
In April 1888 it was discovered to be consumed by fire [though not destroyed as this article in the Edinburgh Evening News wrongly states]:
A year later, this was reported [I do not know the outcome for James Stewart]:
In the 1900s, James Ivory an Edinburgh financier, purchased the Laverockdale estate and commissioned Robert Lorimer to design and build him an Arts and Crafts home. Laverockdale House was completed in 1912:
I have never been inside Laverockdale House but I did spend one summer as an ‘odd-job’ boy helping in the renovation and decoration of the Chauffeurs Lodge:
So what then happened to Laverock Dale cottage and its beautiful garden? Sometime in the 1980s it was abandoned. The garden became overgrown and eventually merged into the surrounding woodland. The property was boarded up and yet another housing estate grew up around it.
In the last few years the cottage has been fully restored. When put on the market the asking price was £1.8 million.