Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

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Saturday, 14 August 2010

Edinburgh: Ormidale Terrace, Gorgie Road & Shandwick Place.

Och! As anyone who regularly reads these haverings will likely know, John had a large soft spot for Scotland, and Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-burra (for any non-UK readahs), so now ye ken, and thir's nae excuse) in particular. His Aunt Mater lived at 15 Ormidale Terrace, and thus so did cousin Stan, someone who John always held in high regard. Young Master Lennon stayed here many a summer as a youth, and also visited at least a couple of times after the Beatles became mildly successful. Coincidentally, when the Kenwood address book was auctioned off, the promo pic happened to show the very entry for number 15:

The house is still there, and likely more or less unchanged since John knew it, strutting aboot in his tither. In his last letter to Stan, written in 1980, John talked about buying Ormidale Terrace (presumably just the house, and not the whole street, though who knows). It's odd to think that had he lived, the landlord of this gaff might just have been one J.W.O. Lennon:

A slightly closer view:

The terrace winds up a slight hill, at the foot of which squats a church:

I vaguely recall reading in some or other tome that John and Cyn once visited Edinburgh, but upon arriving at Ormidale Terrace, found no-one home. It being a typically dreich day, they took shelter in the doorway of this church, awaiting Mater's return:

The view from the door. Note the pterodactyl, which are becoming a real nuisance in Edinburgh these days:

Before the limiting effects of almost unparalleled fame kicked in, John was a cinema goer of the avid variety, and not just for those perv-related reasons outlined in Mr Shotton's book. His favourite cinema in Edinburgh, where he whiled away many an hour doing God knows what, was the Roxy on Gorgie Road. This closed down in 1963, first becoming a Bingo hall, and then falling into disrepair. It was more or less demolished a few years back, before being re-built using part of the original facade. These days, it's a shed o' beds:

John's final visit to Edinburgh was in 1969, accompanied by Yoko, Kyoko and Julian. At some point they all took a stroll along to Princes Street (Edinburgh's main drag), and were photographed several times so doing. The first port of call was photographic supplier Lizars, where, apparently (and appropriately), John was pictured in the process of buying some binoculars for Mater. (I've never seen this pic, so if anyone has it...) Lizars recently shut up shop in this location, but the premises are still there:

Inside is now a shell:

Next door stood the Shandwick Place branch of RBS (bastids that they are). John (newly purchased binoculars over shoulder) et al were also photographed here, heading onto Princes Street itself, where they ended up with tartan outfits for ver kidz, as you do. But here they are outside RBS (the bastids)(RBS that is, not ver kidz), plus the same spot now:

So there it is. A wee doad o' Lennon's Edinburgh for ye. Och! Etc.


  1. Great post Sean, how about doing something on Durness?

  2. Actually, Durness was in the offing - but didn't happen in the end, for various reasons, some of which weren't alcohol related. But yes, I'll get up there at some point.

  3. I suppose I could deign to visit the East coast purely to walk in John's footsteps, before hurrying back west to Weegieville as fast as the train can take me...;-) Seriously though, brilliant post and I am def going to go and check out those sites (once the tourist/festival madness dies doon a bit)! Thanks Kenwood!xx

  4. Article slighly spoiled for me by clichéd Scots-syle language in a city where no one speaks like that at all (anyone who does so is surely confined to Lennon's beloved 'Broons' annuals). In fact the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh where Lennon stayed is one of the most prosperous post-codes in the UK and people generally speak a generic middle-class Britsh.

    I would have also mentioned Lennon's stays at Bryce Cescent in the west Edinburgh suburb of Currie, his cousin Stanley Parkes's place, after the Beatles' 1964 concert in Edinburgh, and indeed is photographed in the late Doug Healy's booklet 'John Lennon in Edinburgh' (1994 or 95). Another Beatles link to the city is that it was the birthplace of Stuart Sutcliffe, though I've no idea where he stayed.

    Good photos.

  5. People don't actually talk like that in Edinburgh? Crivvens. Anyone would think that a) the "article" wasn't written by a Scotchman, and b) that it was meant to be taken seriously. Jings. Hoots mon. Help ma boab. Etc.

  6. John and his son Julian I have been told visited regularly a dentist on Alexander Drive which is just opposite the then Roxy picture house.

  7. John came to edinburgh got 100 £ fae his uncle as a loan paul mccarney says .

  8. Lennon had an uncle he visited regular in morningside edinburgh he got a loan from him for £100 once.. mccartney spoke about the loan several times .it gave the beatles a financial boost in the early days