Nicola Ramzan

Hidden down an alley in one of Edinburgh’s most upmarket suburbs lies a Wild West-style ghost town.

The secretive street is so hard to find that most Morningside residents are unaware of its existence.

It was created more than 30 years ago by a cowboy enthusiast to advertise his furniture company, but was abandoned a decade later after the firm went bust.

The facades for a jail, a general store, ticket office and a cantina still survive, although the old railway station did not.

Now the tiny units are home to a small community of tradespeople.

Those working in the lane, which is known as the Wild West, include Nicola Ramzan.

“It feels like you’re in a film set, it is a very different place to work, that’s for sure,” she said.

Wild West

The 45-year-old office manager for PR Motor Engineers said she loved the “quirky” lane.

“Not a lot of people know about it. When people do come down here they ask what it is and I explain the story.

“It is a quirky little place and something a bit special.

“It’s not just a back alley, it’s got a story to it.

“And now that it’s a bit run down it looks like a ghost town, which just adds even more character to the place.”

The street, also known as El Paso, it is in a lane off Springvalley Gardens, and is accessed through an opening in a block of tenement flats.

Wild West

The facade was designed by Michael Faulkner, who is the son of Lord Faulkner, the unionist politician who was the last prime minister of Northern Ireland.

Michael had been living in North America as a cowboy when he fell from his horse and injured his back.

Unable to continue riding, he moved to Scotland and opened a store called Pine Country in the lane. The business made and restored pine furniture.

Mr Faulkner opened a second business next door called The Great American Indoors, which produced high quality handmade furniture.

He then came up with the idea of transforming the lane with a Wild West theme as a promotional device.

He brought in several engineers from Disney World to rebuild the shop fronts to remind him of his cowboy days.

Tom Frankish

Tom Frankish, 75, has owned Lawnmower Services in the lane since 1974.

He told BBC Scotland he still had custom-made furniture from Michael’s businesses, which he predicted would “last forever”.

“I used to see him on a daily basis and he was a very nice and easy going person,” he said.

Mr Frankish said the business had been thriving until an Ikea store opened on the outskirts of Edinburgh at the end of 1999.

“Shoppers stopped coming overnight and he went bankrupt,” he said.

“El Paso was quite attractive in its day and was a happy place when he was here.

“Now it’s shambolic and it’s a bit dilapidated.”

Josh Forrester

But he added: “Michael’s legacy is still here after all this time.”

Josh Forrester, 43, who owns a carpentry business, has been based on the street for four years.

“This urban Wild West town is a hidden gem,” he said.

“Even if you walk down Springvalley Gardens you wouldn’t see it. You have to know it’s here.

“It’s very different and beats working in the industrial setting where most often workshops are based.

“And although it has its difficulties for parking I’m very fond of it. It’s a nice quirky space to be in.”

He added that when he told people he worked in Edinburgh’s Wild West they did not know what he was talking about.

“It seems to be the locals who don’t know anything about it, which is a shame as it’s definitely worth a visit.”

Source: BBC

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