Tale of Edinburgh’s First Garden City is fascinating – Donald Anderson

The Inch was created as a result of wartime planning to build homes for returning heroes, writes Donald Anderson.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 6:00 am
Inch Park is one of the city's finest green spaces. Picture: Greg Macvean

One book to look out for next year is a history of Edinburgh’s First Garden City – The Inch, being written by old friend and fellow ‘schemie’ Bill Cook. Bill was raised “on the other side of the Inch”. The scheme was divided by Gilmerton Road and both sides of the road always referred to “the other side” as if it was somehow drastically different and inferior.

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This has been a labour of love for Bill, and he has spent many hours trawling the city archive to dig out all the relevant information about the origins, plans and evolution of the area we (and many others) grew up in and love. I never knew as a child, but I grew up in a community that was both meticulously planned and ground-breaking for Edinburgh and Scotland.

The origins began in wartime planning for homes to be built for the returning heroes and as a solution to the many slums in Edinburgh’s city centre. Bill’s family moved from the now demolished slum area at Greenside Place, and my family moved from a rented flat in Portobello’s Kings Road. At the time, the Inch had all mod cons.

Streets and homes were even planned around existing mature trees and some great green spaces were both preserved and enhanced including Inch Park, which is unquestionably one of the city’s finest parks. Look out for it, it will certainly be a fascinating read and I’m sure there are many lessons to be learned for planning modern communities.