The creepy Edinburgh lodge with a dark and tragic secret unknown to many

Many will walk or drive past the former City Poorhouse on Edinburgh's Comiston Road every day and see it as nothing other than a sheltered housing block.

However, before its redevelopment, it lay derelict and abandoned for some time, having opened in 1870 to provide a "comfortable home for the aged and poor," but that's not all it is remembered for.

The building, number 144, is said to have attracted several "puzzled" looking people carrying paperwork during the 1970's and 80's according to a former resident - who revealed the building's dark secret.

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Situated adjacent to the City Hospital for infectious diseases, the poorhouse became Greenlea old people's home after the Second World War and has since been converted into apartments - yet its Victorian era legacy remains.

Former Edinburgh resident Mike Ashworth lived in a property in Greenbank Terrace that overlooked the poorhouse's abandoned gatehouse throughout the 1970s and 80s and says it was not uncommon to see groups of people "looking puzzled" and carrying paperwork.

Mr Ashworth believes the people may have been on the hunt for the former homes of their relatives and were likely unaware that their ancestors had either lived or been born at the poorhouse.

As a policy by authorities to hide the stigma of extreme poverty, he says poorhouse children were registered as being born at 144 Comiston Road, misleadingly giving the impression that they resided at the handsome East Lodge.

He told Edinburgh Live: "The small building on the corner of Comiston Drive, was one of two lodges adjacent to each other and served the parallel drives to the City Poorhouse and City Hospital respectively.

"On many occasions you would see people, outside the old lodge at 144, looking puzzled and consulting paperwork and some days we’d nip across the road to ask if we could help, in case they were lost or required directions.

"Frequently they would have copies of old birth or death certificates that showed the address on them but they could not quite believe that this small lodge squared with the other facts as they knew them.

"I was eventually told by an older neighbour that they believed the reason was the poorhouse used the address of the Lodge on Comiston Road to complete documents and forms such as registration of births and deaths to hide the stigma of the poorhouse, such was its reputation."

The City Hospital was opened by King Edward VII in 1903 and was closed as a hospital in 1999. The entire site has since been converted for residential use.

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East Lodge closed much earlier and was demolished in 1987 for a block of retirement flats called Greenbank House.

For Mike Ashworth, his memories of Greenbank House are tinged with tragedy. He recalls how his mother witnessed a worker falling to his death while the building was under construction.

Mr Ashworth, a retired London Underground worker, who now lives in West Yorkshire, said: "Despite local protests the lodge was bulldozed to allow the construction of the current four-story brick block of flats with only the stone wall and gate posts remaining.

"However, during construction, the new building was the site of a fatal accident, witnessed from our front window by my mother, Bernice Ashworth.

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"One frosty morning, as the building was almost complete, a site worker had gone to roof level in a cherry picker, to access the roof.

"Sadly he left the safety of the cherry picker and, on the icy, slippery roof he fell and plunged the four stories to his death.

"The subject of a fatal accident inquiry at the Sheriff Court, my mother had to attend and give evidence.

"All I recall was her screaming as I entered the front room, to see a blurred falling figure, but she had seen the whole tragic accident thinking some how the poor man would hold on somehow."