About this memory
When people moved out of the city to the Oxgangs area in the 1940s and
1950s, there was almost a sense of it being a frontier community - out in
the countryside, remote and difficult to reach from the city, and bearing
the brunt of the icy winds and weather rolling down from the Pentland
Hills. Its rural roots are taken from the name: Oxgangs derives from
the area of a farm that could be ploughed by a single ox. The original
farmstead in Oxgangs was built on the land which is now occupied by the
Police Station. It lay on a drover’s path from the Pentlands, and was also a
walking ground for the gentry, linked by paths to the Hermitage of Braid.
The first sign of residential housing in Oxgangs was the self-builds for
post office workers and the pre-war prefabs.
All this lies in contrast to the ultra modern high rise flats planned by
the City Council in the mid 1950s. The ‘Village in the Sky’ at Oxgangs
was full of innovative technology and architecture – all electric flats
with underfloor heating, inside toilets, communal laundry facilities at the
bottom of stairs, private balconies with spectacular views over the Forth,
the city skyline and the Pentland Hills. This was no run down estate but
a flagship project designed to lure skilled workers to the city from rural
areas, or rehousing workers from other areas that were being developed.
Most of the new residents were young, aspiring, working families, able to
afford the high rents.