History of The Venchie
Funding in the Early Days
"The Venchie opened opened in the early-1960s.
It was part-funded by the local residents including
my ma, Annie Arthur (Annie Beatson at that time), and the University Settlement
where many of the early volunteers were pooled from.
My mother and other local parents ran Beetle Drives
and what could be described as a ‘numbers racket’ using the Sunday Post football
scores with the first to 21 goals collecting the jackpot.
I understand that this has been recently revived in
"The location was between the Wee Free Church and
the University Settlement building at around 63 Niddrie Mains Terrace.
There was an Adventure Playground movement in the
1960s and this is where the idea originated.
Early activities included being rolled down the
small hills in wooden barrels and playing in old cars in the playground, before
railway sleepers and the ubiquitous telegraph poles were liberally utilised."
"One of my favourite memories was of going into the
Venchie one afternoon when I was a bairn and the big laddies were practicing
using their ‘webber’ belts. These were army surplus webbing belts, liberally
adorned with metal studs and chains which they used for fighting.
These guys were seeing how fast they could whip the
belt off and hit the wooden poles (stand-ins for other gang members). There was
a technique for fast draws and I was mesmerized by how quick they could get the
belt off and hit the target in one swift movement."
"The first Youth Workers that I remember were a
married Israeli couple called Ozzy and Jaffa Popperoffski (probably spelled
differently). They were lovely people.
I liked Ron Aitken too. He forgave me in later
years for the torment we occasionally put him and his staff through over the
Arthur, Edinburgh: March 4, 2014