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Burger threat to Sherlock home
Dear Members of the SInclair list,
Interested in come current happenings in Edinburgh and history
in the making?
Do you want to speak to the Edinburgh city fathers?
>>Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 11:08:37 EST
>>Subject: [McLibel] Burger threat to Sherlock home
>>Burger threat to Sherlock home
>>Monday December 06 1999
It is, perhaps, the greatest challenge facing Sherlock
Holmes enthusiasts since the fictional hero had his fateful meeting with
Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Fans of
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have only weeks to rescue a crucial
piece of the literary giant's history from a new nemesis: McDonald's.
>>Already a worldwide alliance has formed to save the oldest surviving home
of the consulting detective's creator from
being demolished to make way for a 95-seat burger restaurant.
>>Conan Doyle's birthplace in Edinburgh was torn down to
make way for a huge roundabout and his second home was
converted into a ladies' toilet, so Liberton Bank House on
the outskirts of the city is the writer's oldest intact home.
When he lived there as a child in the 1860s, the house was surrounded by
farmland and streams. But now it is bordered
by a shopping centre and car park, and the owners of the
land want to sell it off to make way for further retail
An application to demolish the house has been made to
Edinburgh city council on behalf of McDonald's and is due
to be considered early next year, but Conan Doyle
enthusiasts have already begun a campaign to save the house.
Allen Simpson, a former curator of the Royal Museums of
Scotland, is heading the campaign to rescue the home of the literary son
Edinburgh is often accused of neglecting.
"Sometimes Edinburgh has a bit too much history, and we are
a bit blasé about what we keep and what we don't,"
he says. "I think it is important that it is not demolished,
and it would be nice if it could be retained as a private
McDonald's, however, is in no mood for compromise. A
spokesman for company said the application was at a late
stage and there were no plans to withdraw it. "The
various Conan Doyle groups have known since the house was
delisted in 1997 and put up for sale that, because of its proximity to the
shopping centre, retail outlets would be interested," he added.
Edinburgh city council says the views of the protesters
will be taken into account, but the application has not yet reached
committee stage and it is too early to give any
indication of what the likely outcome will be.
Owen Dudley Edwards, Conan Doyle's biographer, accuses
the council of being prepared to sell its heritage for the
price of a hamburger. "There is a certain symbolism, shall we
say, that in this day and age the home where one of Scotland's greatest
creative writers found his early inspiration is to be
knocked down to make way for a burger chain," he says.
Conan Doyle was sent to live at Liberton Bank House between
1863 and 1867, to escape the ravages of his alcoholic father.
The house was owned by Mary Burton, sister of the historian
John Hill Burton, whom Mr Dudley Edwards believed introduced
the young Conan Doyle to the world of books, in particular,
those of Sir Walter Scott.
Conan Doyle left the house to attend a Roman Catholic boarding school in
England and did not return to Edinburgh until he
went to medical school there. After graduating in 1881, he
headed for Portsmouth and lived in various towns in the south
Although he is most commonly associated with London, he had
only a passing association with the city - he claimed never to have set
foot in Baker Street. But the Sherlock Holmes museum
in London attracts around 120,000 visitors each year, while Edinburgh has
almost nothing to whet the tourist appetite for Conan Doyle.
"We have far too readily allowed the impression go unchecked
that because he invented a famous English character, he was a famous
English writer," says Mr Dudley Edwards. "He was a very Scottish writer and
he kept his Scottish accent until the day
he died. Scotland should make more of him and saving this house would be
the first step."
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc.
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