Central Edinburgh

A selection of brief memories and questions




Stuart Burgess

Devon, England

Thank you to Stuart Burgess for sending me the selection of memories and a few questions below.

Stuart wrote:

Binns Clock

"We always met friends under the Binns Clock at the West End."

NB Hotel

"The NB Hotel at Waverley always had its clocks two or three minutes fast to make passengers on time for their train.  Is that still the case?"

Answer:  Yes

"The NB Hotel is now the Balmoral Hotel.  Why?"

Answer:  It was the result of a takeover.

Store Numbers

"One of your correspondents bet that anyone over 40 could remember their family 'Store number'.  Ours was 878.

It was always queried when we gave it to the cashier as it was so short. (There's a reason for the short number, but too much explanation is required)"

Telephone Numbers

"How about all the old telephone numbers?  Two of the prefixes that I remember are:

-  CRA (Craiglockhart)

-  DAV (Davidson's Mains)

Was there:

-  FOU (Fountainbridge)?"

Newhaven Fishwife

"I remember the Newhaven fishwife who stood at the foot of Henderson Terrace in her traditional skirts and striped petticoats, selling fish (what else?).  She was there well into the 1950s.

Are there are any pictures of her?"

Thank you, also, to Stuart Burgess for also providing many entries for the Edinburgh Slang pages on the EdinPhoto web site.



Moira Clarke


Thank you to Moira Clarke for posting a message and reply in the EdinPhoto guest book.

Moira wrote:


"I was born in Edinburgh Infirmary in 1955.  At the time, we lived in East Fountainbridge, next to the Palladium Theatre."

The Vennel

"I went to the little council-run nursery school at the top of the Vennel (Grassmarket) steps.

Edinburgh Castle

"My grandparents lived at Brown's Place which was on the left just a few yards up the Vennel steps.

My Grandad was the Recruiting Officer for the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and was stationed at Edinburgh Castle.

As children, he used to take us up to the castle esplanade when there were any visiting Heads of State.

Oh, and it always meant that we had free Tattoo tickets every year - -another perk of the job.


"I remember when Goldbergs opened on the High Rigs.  We thought it was FAB, especially the escalator!"

Patrick Thomson's


Crawford's Tearooms

"My granny used to take me to Patrick Thomson's on the North Bridge to look at the pianos, followed by a drink and scone in Crawford's Tearooms

All the ogling and trying out of pianos in Patrick Thompsons must have made some impression because I went on to be a piano teacher!"

Meadows Playground

"I remember the little playground at the edge of The Meadow, at the end of Brougham Place."

Greyfriars' Bobby

"I remember having a little drink of water from the Greyfriars Bobby fountain."

Dolls' Hospital

"I remember the Doll's Hospital, on George IV Bridge, I think.

Moira added:

"I'd love to hear from anybody else who has fond memories of such things."

Moira Clarke, Yorkshire:  Message and reply posted in EdinPhoto guestbook:  March 23 + 25, 2010.

I don't have an email address for Moira.  However if you wish to reply to her, you should be able to leave your reply below the message that she left  in the EdinPhoto guestbook:  March 23, 2010.

UPDATE:  I now have Moira's email address so if you'd like to send a reply to her, please email me, then I'll pass it on to her.  -  Peter Stubbs:  July 23, 2010




Catherine Jamieson

San Diego, California, USA

Thank you to Catherine Jamieson who wrote:

Chamber Street Museum

"I remember Chamber Street Museum.  On a Sunday afternoon, the boys and girls would hang out there."

The Mound

"We would go to the Art Gallery at The Mound.

I remember the big Christmas tree at The Mound, a gift from Norway."

Tron Church

"New Year's Eve, Hogmanay, was at the Tron Church in the High Street."

Princes Street Gardens

"I remember many walks through Princes Street Gardens:

-  Making daisy chains

-  The big black steam engine trains that would go by, stopping at Waverley Station."

Tollcross Friends

"These are the friends that I remember from Tollcross:

Margo Barlow

-  Mary Nelson

-  Richard Johnson

-  Bertie Wallace

-  John Drummond

-  Josephine Small.

I have a class picture."


"So many memories!

No matter where I go, my heart will always be in Scotland, especially Edinburgh, my home town."

Catherine Jamieson, San Diego, California, USA:  June 16, 2012




Catherine Jamieson

San Diego, California, USA

Thank you to Catherine Jamieson for writing again with more memories of Edinburgh including:

Cafés near the West End

Cinemas and Theatres

Catherine also wrote:

The Grassmarket

"The Grassmarket was a scary place back then.  It's all different now.  The Beehive Restaurant is still there."

Royal Visits

"I saw the Queen and Princess Margaret twice.  They came down our street in the motorcade going to the castle.

I saw the Duke of Edinburgh at the North British Hotel, now the Balmoral."

Edinburgh's Buildings

"I wish they wouldn't try to put modern buildings and interior decor in with the old historical buildings.  It would be nice if they made more of an effort to keep the old historical character of Edinburgh intact."

Catherine Jamieson, San Diego, California, USA:  June 22, 2012




Ian McArthur

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Thank you Ian McArthur, now living in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, for sending some of his memories of Central Edinburgh to the EdinPhoto web site.

Ian wrote:

Simpson's Memorial Hospital

"I grew up in Victoria Street, just up from the Grassmarket.  Like many others, I was born in the Simpson Memorial Hospital.  I caught scarlet fever.  You never hear of that now!"


"I remember going to the Museum on a Sunday.  Do you remember the Van Der Graff generator at the Museum?  It was behind a big glass case and you put your hand on the glass and it would make your hair stand on end.

My first kiss was in the Museum, with a girl called Rosie Gold.  What a name:  a  Movie Star name!

Shakespeare Bar

"I used to go to the Shakespeare Bar.  I was back in Edinburgh last year - great memories.

King's Theatre

"I used to hang around Tollcross near the Kings Theatre, with:

-  Gordon Wood

-  Steven Murray

-  Willie Tosh

-  Christine Kelly

- George Wood.  He was the big brother of Stuart (Woody) Wood of Bay City Rollers' fame. We used to watch him go off to practice. 

He was crap, but I suppose he had the last laugh.  I think he was 3 years older than Woody."

Ian McArthur, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:  Message posted in EdinPhoto Guestbook on 10 Oct
 2013, in response to a message posted in the Guestbook by Catherine Jamieson on 12 Apr 2013.




Frank Ferri

Newhaven, Edinburgh

Thank you to Frank Ferri who wrote:

A Bit of Nostalgia

Sunday Mornings

"Do you remember the days prior to our present day heathen times of mobile phones and computers? 

Do you remember the quiet halcyon days when you woke up on a Sunday morning to church bells summoning worshipers to Sunday service?"

Shops and Entertainment

"The only shops open were the newsagents or the odd Italian ice-cream shop

-  We had picnic trips to Gullane, Hillend Park, Colinton Dell or the Braids

-  There were no theatres, dance halls  open,

-  The only cinemas that were open were those showing the occasional viewing with free entry for some public information documentary that we all flocked to just for he novelty of being there on a Sunday, no matter if was boring."

Sunday Afternoons and Evenings

"Oh, I forgot, we did have:

- The Capitol Manderson Street concert for amateur entertainers on a Sunday night

or maybe

-  The West End café for a bit of jazz and the afternoon Dixie land jazz with Sandy Brown in the small hall above the registrars top of Victoria Terrace George IV Bridge"

Half-day Closing

"Half-day closing for all shops in the city was a Tuesday, and for Leith it was Wednesday, even the chippy!

 When on leave from the Merchant Navy, I took advantage of the Tuesday half-day by going to the Palais De Danse afternoon session.  There was plenty of talent from the big city stores such C&A, Jenner's, Binns etc - and we went  back again for more at night.  I was an insatiable youth in my dancing days.

We all moaned, at the time, about the closing arrangements, but I now miss them to a certain extent.  At least it differentiated the days and split up the week, gave time for family things and outdoor interest.

We had no telly then to distract us.. We looked forward to listening to the radio for popular music on a Sunday like 'Family Favourites' or Radio Luxemburg."

Frank Ferri, Newhaven, Edinburgh:  March 6, 2013


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