John McLellan: The names with no streets

Lawrie Reilly. Picture: Jane Barlow
Lawrie Reilly. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The council has a ‘bank’ of approved titles for naming city roads, but now Hibs star Lawrie Reilly has been honoured is there a place for a Hearts legend too?

What do Balmarino, Treverlen and Edrom have in common? Obscure breeds of sheep, perhaps?

Or what about Gulliver, Planetree or Hogiston? Possibly characters played by Andy Gray in the Kings Theatre panto.

In fact these are all names approved by Edinburgh Council for new streets, being entries in the “name bank”, the existence of which was probably unknown to the vast majority of Edinburgh until the recent stooshie over Lawrie Reilly Place in Lochend.

It was certainly news to me.

I do have some sympathy for city officials who are called upon to pronounce on the hundreds of ideas which come across their desks every year. Their job is to look at the rules and decide if they are about to be broken or not. It is not their job to change them, so sometimes the instructions they give can appear at best cold or at worst downright stupid.

Into the latter category fell the advice that naming a street near Easter Road after such a fine ambassador for the city, Hibernian FC and football in general as Lawrie Reilly was offside.

As News readers now know, the official position was that no street could be named after anyone who hadn’t been dead for ten years lest some dreadful secret be uncovered which would bring shame on the city. Not that there is any guarantee that some awful sin wouldn’t be unearthed after 11 years, but that’s a technicality.

But Lawrie Reilly? The outcry that such an outstanding individual should fall foul of this rule was all too predictable.

The name on the report was director for services for communities Mark Turley, now suspended as the internal investigation into the baby ashes scandal unfolds. I imagine Mr Turley will be glad to see the back of 2014.

With perhaps a keener eye for public opinion, councillors ignored the recommendation and approved Lawrie Reilly Place. Sensibly, they have also ordered a review of the policy.

The compromise proposed by Mr Turley was to put Lawrie Reilly’s name into the “name bank” for new streets in the Craigentinny/Duddingston districts, along with those of fellow Famous Five members Willie Ormond and Eddie Turnbull. Poor Gordon Smith and Bobby Johnstone were to have no such recognition because such street names already existed.

So who is awaiting recognition in city signage? It will come as no surprise to readers that they’ll have heard of hardly any of them. Balmarino, Edrom and Treverlen are all found in the Craigentinny list where Lawrie Reilly was to go.

Only Edrom has any current significance and that’s only because it’s the name of a wee Berwickshire village from where the Logan family which once owned a chunk of Restalrig hailed.

Balmarino too, is the name of an aristocratic family from Fife which also counted a bit of Restalrig amongst their possessions. Their grisly claim to fame is that it took three swipes of the executioner’s axe to dispatch the last Lord Balmarino in the Tower of London in 1746 for his part in the Jacobite Rebellion.

Treverlen was not something borrowed from someone called Trevor but, as I’m sure you all know, the original name for Duddingston and means “the settlement by the lake of reeds”. Somewhere in the plans for Craigmillar there must be a new road crying out to be named Treverlen.

Gulliver is not the Jonathan Swift character but the giant sculpture by ex-Barlinnie lag Jimmy Boyle unveiled in 1979 by Billy Connolly.

Hogiston might well have been a pig farm, but was actually the estate of Robert Hog of Hogistoun, where he quite possibly traded in all things hoggish but we’ll never know. All we know is it was in the area of Whitehouse Loan near St Margaret’s Convent.

And then we have Planetree. This is named after a tree. Sycamore to you and me, which is to commemorate the giant one in Corstorphine which blew over in the 90s and was subsequently turned into violins.

The officially approved list is like an Edinburgh game of Trivial Pursuit in which there are plenty of answers to questions no-one has asked.

There is even a list of surnames whose only relevance is they were in the first government census in Niddrie in 1841.

There are some deserving individuals, like medical pioneers, but one name in particular stood out; a famous name thousands will know whose name is ready to use without all the brouhaha it has taken to win recognition for Lawrie Reilly.

The name with no street is that of Hearts legend Willie Bauld.