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Happy Valley

About 3 miles SW of the centre of Edinburgh

 

Question

1.

George T Smith

British Columbia, Canada

George T Smith, British Columbia, Canada, formerly of Edinburgh, sent me this question about Happy Valley.

 George wrote:

Happy Valley

"Do you have any information about 'Happy Valley', Edinburgh, in its heyday?

I only knew it as a site with a closed and apparently derelict large building and a large boating pond which was unused in my day.

I believe it was a ballroom, tennis courts and so on at one time, but I only knew it during the WWll years."

George T Smith, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island,  British Columbia, Canada:  February 2, 2008

If you know anything about 'Happy Valley' that you would like to pass on to George, please e-mail me, then I'll pass your message on to him.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  February 3, 2008

 

Question

1.

Reply

1.

Kevin Rae

Edinburgh

Thank you to Kevin Rae, Edinburgh, for sending the details below.  Thanks also, Kevin, for correcting the impression I originally had of where Happy Valley was situated.

 Kevin wrote:

Craiglockhart Sports Centre

"The area I know as Happy Valley is where the Craiglockhart Sports Centre is today. The boating pond is still there, and is used for canoeing as far as I'm aware.

The tennis courts are also still there, although they've been refurbished, over the last few years.

As far as I know this area has been known as Happy Valley for a long number of years and includes woodland paths leading up onto Easter Craiglockhart Hill."

Kevin Rae, Edinburgh:  February 4, 2008

I've now read the comments about Happy Valley that appear in Stuart Harris' book 'The Place Names of Edinburgh'

Stuart writes:

1880 - 1920s - 1945

"Happy Valley (Craiglockhart) has become a place name for part of Colinton Road, beside the entrance to an area which has been used for recreation from about 1880, when a boating pond and curling rink were formed on the flat boggy floor of the deep glacial valley of the Megget burn.

In the 1920s this was developed as 'Happy Valley' amusement park and dance hall.  ... It was redeveloped as a sports centre after 1945."

Peter Stubbs:  February 4, 2008

 

Question

1.

Reply

2.

Stuart Lyon

Blackford,  Edinburgh

Thank you to Stuart Lyon for replying to George T Smith's request for information about Happy Valley

Stuart wrote:

Craiglockhart Sports Centre

"The area I know as Happy Valley is where the Craiglockhart Sports Centre is today. The boating pond is still there, and is used for canoeing as far as I'm aware.

The tennis courts are also still there, although they've been refurbished, over the last few years.

As far as I know this area has been known as Happy Valley for a long number of years and includes woodland paths leading up onto Easter Craiglockhart Hill."

Stuart Lyon, Blackford, Edinburgh:  February 4, 2008

I've now read the comments about Happy Valley that appear in Stuart Harris' book 'The Place Names of Edinburgh'

Stuart writes:

1880 - 1920s - 1945

"Happy Valley (Craiglockhart) has become a place name for part of Colinton Road, beside the entrance to an area which has been used for recreation from about 1880, when a boating pond and curling rink were formed on the flat boggy floor of the deep glacial valley of the Megget burn.

In the 1920s this was developed as 'Happy Valley' amusement park and dance hall.  ... It was redeveloped as a sports centre after 1945."

Peter Stubbs:  February 4, 2008

 

Question

1.

Reply

3.

Stuart Lyon

Blackford,  Edinburgh

Thank you to Stuart Lyon for sending another reply to Question 1 above.

Stuart wrote:

Happy Valley History

"I thought these  notes might be of interest to those using the EdinPhoto web site who have mentioned Happy Valley."

Stuart Lyon:  Blackford, Edinburgh:  June 4 + 6, 2014

Note

These notes were written by K Bryce Morrison.  They appear on the Craiglockhart Community Council web site for which Bryce is normally the web master.  (I've added my own paragraph headings to Bryce's notes below.)

The History of “Happy Valley”

Craiglockhart, Edinburgh

The Name

The name Happy Valley is currently associated with the part of Colinton Road beside Craiglockhart Post Office and the adjacent parade of other shops and businesses.  The origins, though, long predate the shops and lie on the other side of Colinton Road in the valley to the west of Easter Craiglockhart Hill.  This was originally formed by glacial action during the ice age and was the course for the Megget burn. 

Skating and Curling

The first recorded intervention by man was in 1873 when a dam was built across the valley to create an artificial loch, although older maps do show the existence of a Meadow, now Pond, on the site.  The work was instigated by John Cox of Gorgie (of Royal Gymnasium fame) to create a skating pond at a time when winters were rather more severe than now and skating was a popular pastime.  Winter recreation was also addressed by the construction of outdoor curling rinks and, in 1887, a Craiglockhart Curling Club was formed.

Skating, Boating and Lawn Tennis

The facilities in the valley were originally in private ownership but in 1916 The Craiglockhart Skating Ponds Company Ltd was formed.  The purpose of the business was described as “providing skating, boating, lawn tennis facilities and other amusements as carried on by Henry Snow”. This wide recreational use is almost certainly where the description “happy” first arose for the valley. As well as being the previous owner, Henry Snow was the major shareholder and he was also described as being the manager.  He resigned late in 1924 and two other directors were appointed presumably having bought out his interests.

Dance Hall

Early in 1925 another company was formed called The Craiglockhart Ponds and Recreation Grounds Ltd. The title hints at its broader brief and the share capital was considerably increased from £100 to £6450 with the intention of this being further increased to £10,000 to fund the building of a dance hall as had been pre-agreed with the ground superiors. The plans also included altering the existing dwelling house on site as a residence for a John Brattesani. He had been one of the previous directors and became the major shareholder in the new company. He was described as being a restaurateur and the new company granted him all catering rights on the site. An inventory produced at the time of the takeover indicated that there were 28 rowing boats and 2 canoes in addition to skates and tennis appliances.  The new hall was intended to considerably broaden the horizons because, as well as carrying on the outdoor activities, the company envisaged dancing, billiards, exhibitors of moving pictures, opera house, theatrical or music hall and being caterers for public entertainment, balls, exhibitions or other kind of concerts.

Catering Rights

The next company record is in 1927 noting the setting up of the Happy Valley Company (Craiglockhart) Limited thus formalising the area name.  Its purpose was to purchase and acquire the business carried on by John Brattesani at Craiglockhart Ponds and recreation grounds.  Since the previous company still existed it appears that this referred to his catering rights. Unfortunately Mr Brattisani subsequently had his estate sequestered in December 1928 and was disqualified as a director.  Both companies were wound up in 1930.

Amusement Park

The business went back into private ownership in the names of two individuals but a year or two later the owner was again recorded as being the Happy Valley Company.  There were noted as being houses for the manageress and for the gardener.  On maps the description Amusement Park had been first recorded on the 1927/28 Post Office Directory Map and it was specifically noted as Happy Valley Amusement Park on the 1932 Ordnance Survey map of the area.  In the early 30’s the parade of shops on the west side of Colinton Road was developed offering a useful mixture of butcher, baker and tearoom, grocer, fishmonger, fruiterer, chemist, dairyman, provisioner, outfitters, ironmonger, stationer and Post Office as well as motor car mechanics and later a wireless dealer.

12 Tennis Courts, Badminton and Squash

In the 30’s there is no doubt that tennis became the major activity in the valley with various clubs renting the use of some courts and having their own huts and shelters. The tennis focus was confirmed when in 1938 the East of Scotland Lawn Tennis Association purchased the entire 10 acre ground from the then Happy Valley Company. This included twelve hard courts, the boating pond, a skating pond and the large hall.  The company name is given as the East of Scotland Lawn Tennis and Sports Club Ltd. Architects plans in 1938 show the dance hall being converted for badminton and squash courts. The plans also show the creation of a Centre Court stadium with one grass and one hard court plus eight other grass courts while retaining most of the hard courts lower in the valley. The re-development cost some £10,000.

The War Years

The war years were a difficult time financially for the Centre and funding problems continued even after hostilities ceased.  Fortunately the Thistle Tennis Club, which had initially leased one court, expanded to the point they were leasing six providing welcome income.  There was however relief all round when, after extended negotiations, Edinburgh Corporation agreed to take over the centre in 1959 with a condition that it would continue to operate as a tennis centre.

New Tennis Courts and Grandstand

The summer of 1995 saw major changes at Happy Valley with the grass courts replaced by eight fast-dry clay courts and a completely new centre court and grandstand building created.  More importantly, the £3 million redevelopment included the creation of a major indoor tennis facility with 6 “acrylic” courts.  This was built on the lower valley area where the hard courts had previously been.  At this point the Thistle Tennis club who had been renting courts there for more than 50 years, and had built their own clubhouse on site, moved out to a new facility at Paties Road.

Gym, Squash and Badminton

The summer of 2009 saw the culmination of a year-long £2.5 million upgrade to the facilities this time focussing on the sports and leisure aspect with the complete renovation of the gym, squash and badminton buildings.  There is sadly now no recognition of the name in the Craiglockhart Leisure and Tennis Centre that now occupies the site although the sentiment no doubt still applies. The name is however perpetuated in a grocery shop known as the Happy Valley Convenience Store located the other side of Colinton Road from the original site.

Nature Reserve

There was an additional area to the immediate North of the Happy Valley area where in 1901 the Waverley Curling Club feued two and a half acres from the George Watson’s Hospital Trustees at the end of Craiglockhart Terrace. There they built curling ponds and a clubhouse and seemed to flourish to the point in 1934 they recorded having 64 members. They even had a telephone system installed so that they could call members to tell them when there was ice. However the club ceased in 1937 because it had insufficient funds to pay the feu duty. When The ESLTA took over the main site they also feued the Waverley Curling Club Grounds and this in due course passed to Edinburgh Corporation as did eight acres of Easter Craiglockhart Hill.  These areas were later to be designated Easter Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve.

Craiglockhart Woods

In October 1997 the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) proposed the sale of 1.21 acres of the former Waverley land at Craiglockhart Terrace for a housing development.  The local community responded by setting up the “Save Craiglockhart Woods Campaign” and in March 1998 the Council agreed to reverse their decision provided the group could raise the money to demolish a derelict building on the site and to resurface the broken concrete remains of a former curling rink and this was duly achieved.  The group then formed formally as The Craiglockhart Woods Group with the aim of preserving and enhancing the area.  In 2009 TCWG merged with the Friends of Craiglockhart Nature Trail to become The Friends of Craiglockhart Woods and Nature Trail.  In July 2009 the LNR was awarded a Green Flag.

K Bryce Morrison, July 31 2009

 

Thank you to Bryce for allowing me to reproduce his article above, and for giving me some more recent information about Happy Valley.

Bryce wrote:

Update

"Since we met at the Bomber Memorial at Craiglockhart last year,

Memorial dedicated to the crew of the Wellington bomber that crashed at Craiglockhart on 4 December 1942 ©

there have been some 'Happy Valley' changes:

- Sadly, the Happy Valley Superstore has now shut up shop.

- However the Friends of Craiglockhart Woods and Nature Trail have been doing what they can to keep the name of Happy Valley alive.  They have created an Information Board at the North end of the pond, and have and put a page up on their website.  Both are based on my notes above.

- I believe that Napier University are in the process of creating a War Poets' Trail leaflet but I do not know when it will be published."

K Bryce Morrison, Edinburgh, June 7, 2014

 

Question

1.

Reply

4.

George T Smith

British Columbia, Canada

It was George Smith who asked the original question about Happy Valley at the top of this page.  Here, George responds to the replies he has received.

George wrote:

Thank You

"Thank you for the comments above, which I read with great interest.  It strikes me that the Happy Valley site seems to have been fated as many of the enterprises have not lasted for very long.

Has Malcolm Cant ever made any comment about that district?

George T Smith, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island,  British Columbia, Canada:  February 2, 2008

Authors

I've not checked any of Malcolm Cant's Edinburgh books to see whether or not they include any comments about the Happy Valley district, but I would expect that Malcolm probably will have commented on the area.

Much of his research has been devoted to South Edinburgh, as was that of another author before him from South Edinburgh with an interest in local history, Charles C Smith.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  June 10, 2014

 

Question

2.

George T Smith

British Columbia, Canada

George T Smith, who asked Question 1, added.

Happy Valley

"I guess my curiosity is largely satisfied though it would be interesting to know something about its history. As an instance was there ever a dance hall there?

I have some notion that the father of  the Herbertson brothers (one of whom wrote to Edinphoto) was leader of a band there sometime in the thirties

I have  no doubt someone remembers meeting their future wife at the ball room or something similar."

George T Smith, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island,  British Columbia, Canada:   February 5, 2008

George has previously mentioned a Douglas and Kenneth Herbertson whose mother and father, George believes, performed at Happy Valley some time pre-war.

I also received an email from Craig Herbertson (any relation?) now living in  Germany.  Craig told me that his father was a singer pianist and trumpet player who had played regularly in the clubs around Edinburgh.

Craig also sent me a photograph of a group of musicians, including his grandfather, Jock Herbertson, violinist.  The photo was taken at the ballroom in Marine Gardens, Portobello.

Peter Stubbs:  February 5, 2008

If you know anything about a dance hall at 'Happy Valley'  please e-mail me, then I'll pass your message on to George.

Best wishes:  - Peter Stubbs:  February 5, 2008

 

Question

2.

Reply

1.

Craig Herbertson

Written, Germany

Thank you to Craig Herbertson for providing more information about Happy Valley, and about the musicians in his family.

Craig wrote:

Ken Herbertson

"Ken Herbertson is still playing with the Kentones at Edinburgh Masons Club in Edinburgh."

Dancing

"According to my Father, Kenneth Herbertson, Happy Valley was a tennis club, with Saturday night dances.  He remembers that around 1937, band rehearsals were held on Sundays by his father Jock Herbertson.

Douglas and Kenneth, who were very young, would go up to watch their father at rehearsals and collect the cigarette cards from Silk Cut which were scattered around the tables after the previous night.

Skating

"Nearby was Craiglockhart pond where people would go ice skating in the winter.  Behind the pond was the asylum."

Jock Herbertson

"Jock was band leader of ‘The Jack Herbertson Band' in Happy Valley. Jock then took the band to the old Cavendish. (It had a different name then.)

When war broke out, Jock went to administrate in a hospital in Ayrshire, before going to London as a Government official (and finally ending up placed quite high in the Civil Service).

He was there, in  the London Underground in 1941 during the Blitz, playing the fiddle to entertain the Londoners.

Jock became a part-time journalist.  He contributed regularly to the Edinburgh Evening News with stories of his childhood."

Craig Herbertson

"I’m the son of Kenneth Herbertson and am a professional musician."

Craig Herbertson, Witten, Germany:  January 1, 2010

 

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EdinPhoto - Home Page  Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.   At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.     At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.  

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photographers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.

 

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Links to pages with Photos of Groups   Frequently Asked Questions

  Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Links to Dumbiedykes pages  Link to Granton pages  Link to Leith pages   Link to Newhaven pages   Links to Portobello pages   Link to My Recent Talks