Edinburgh Old Town





Jane Jones (née Richardson)

Cambridgeshire, England

Thank you to Jane Jones (née Richardson), now living in Cambridgeshire, for leaving this message in the EdinPhoto guest book.

Jane wrote:

"Thank you for so many happy memories looking at your site has brought back to me."

Mrs O'Malley's Sweet Shop

"I lived in the Cowgate in the early 60's in Solicitors Building right next door to Mrs O'Malley's home made sweet shop.  She made the most wonderful toffee apples, tablet and macaroon you have ever tasted.

You could buy a glass of something like Vimto (can't remember what it was called) for a penny and you drank it in her shop standing up, and trying not to take too long about it."

There was a sweet shop across the road from the school that I attended in Bradford, Yorkshire, in the 1960s.  It also sold 'pop' to be drunk standing up on the premises, but the price charged was 1d, 2d or 3d depending on whether you were given 1/3 glass, 2/3 glass or a full glass.  -  Peter Stubbs

The Brewery

"My Uncle John Parkinson worked in the Brewery down the road until it closed in the early 70's, I think it was, and used to bring us the thick dark malt they used which my Mum would add to all sorts of things to "keep you healthy in the winter".   I was never quite sure how it was supposed to do that but we ate it just the same."

Aggie Beanie

"I remember Aggie Beanie (don't think that was her real name) who had a slight drink problem, and lived it seemed, all year long in the ally way next to the police garage, sitting on the window sill with her bottle, wearing a long tweed coat with a fox fur collar, complete with head and feet, cursing any poor man that may have looked in her direction.

One bright sunny day we saw her fighting with two big polis men in Poli-Olie Close (Old Fishmarket Close) as they tried to take her up to the Police Station on the High St, all us children where cheering her on, which she played up to, knocking off their hats and sending them rolling down the hill, the polis not knowing if they should save their hats from a crowd of cheering children or carry on trying to drag Aggie up the Close.  A bloody nose or two seemed to get the better of them and they dragged her away, warning us not to run off with the hats, which of course we did not...."


"I used to wear my hair in a high pony tail in case I got nits (which my mother checked for every Sunday night).  It was a great cause of shame if the school nit nurse sent you home with a letter.

Jimmy Boyle sometimes friend sometimes enemy, used to take great delight in pulling my hair out of it's tight knicker elastic band and leaving me to explain to my mother that I had not put my head next to anyone else's."

Happy Days

"Oh happy days when the streets of Edinburgh were my playground. I was never harmed or afraid, if only today's children could say the same...minus the nits though."

Jane Jones (née Richardson), Cambridgeshire, England:  August 16, 2006

Douglas Beath, Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, replied:


"I wonder if Jane Jones is recalling Vantas,  a thinly flavoured drink fizzed-up in the shop and served in a glass.  I remember these in the early 1940s at a sweet shop in Ferry Road opposite Craighall Road.  Trinity Tuck Shop in Craighall Avenue didn't offer Vantas.  

Isn't it amazing what inconsequential piffle we can remember from childhood ? !! "

Douglas Beath, Burnie, Tasmania, Australia:  August 17, 2006




Ron McGrouther

Prudhoe, Northumberland, England

Thank you to Ronnie McGrouther who wrote:


I like to visit the old Haunts in Edinburgh, from time to time.  eg the Cowgate where we used to play football  in the middle of the road.  Nowadays, you can hardly cross the road with the amount of traffic using it."


"Basher Thomson used to look over from George IV Bridge and call our names, then tell us to stay there until he came down and read the the riot act to us, sometime followed by a clip on the ear, and you dare not go home winging about it as you would likely receive another one from your parent.


"Talking about Basher Thompson, can anyone remember the other local Policeman, the one we used to call Chiselchin?"

Ron McGrouther, Prudhoe, Northumberland, England, May 18, 2009



Eric Gold

formerly known as Eric McKenzie

East End, London

Eric Gold / McKenzie wrote:

Nathan's Rag Store

    Looking to the west along Cowgate, and through one of the arches of South Bridge, towards the Grassmarket, around 1970 ©

This Rag store in South Bridge in the Cowgate was called Nathan's.  I used to take rags there many a time."

Eric Gold:  East London:  November 20, 2007

Tony Ivanov, Bo'ness, West Lothian, replied:

Collecting Rags

"Eric Gold mentions Nathan's Rag Store in the Cowgate.

I too used to collect rags and earn pocket money by doing so. There was always a rag man who came regularly round the houses with a horse and cart and would give out balloons or a small toy in exchange for rags.

I remember that one day, as a child, I saw him taking his collection into Nathan's and I watched him getting money for them.  Something must have inspired me because I decided to do the same. I used to go round knocking on doors with my guider (bogey/go-cart for those who don't know) asking for old rags and clothing and taking them to Nathan's myself.

I did this almost every Saturday and earned a fair bit of pocket money. I didn't collect as much as the rag man but my guider was always full. Woolen items were the best to collect as these commanded a higher price."

Tony Ivanov, Bo'ness, West Lothian:  February 2, 2008

Eric Gold / McKenzie added:

Rag Store

"We all used to take our rags and woollens to Nathan's rag store. Mr Nathan was Jewish and a great friend of our family and of Doctor Goldberg, too."

Looking to the west along Cowgate, and through one of the arches of South Bridge, towards the Grassmarket, around 1970 ©

Jazz Music

"Mr Nathan liked jazz, like myself, and had his radio on tuned into the American forces network in Germany for the jazz.  He told me the frequency, so that I could tune in my wireless for my ma.  They would play hours of jazz to the forces every night.  It was great music."

Eric Gold, East End, London:  January 27, 2011



Elliot Laing

Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland

Elliot Laing wrote:

Mrs O'Malley's
Sweet Shop


"I came across Mrs O'Malley's sweet shop, in 'Recollections 1' above.  This was my nana's shop and was where the tablet etc sold from my dad's van in Niddrie and Craigmillar was made."

Edinburgh Rock

"The shop used to be painted red outside and at the side had a painting of a man pulling toffee over a hook on the wall.  This was how Edinburgh Rock was made.  Eventually, the toffee would become lighter and lighter in colour and, hey presto, you had Edinburgh rock."

Toffee Doddles

"The toffee doddles were made by taking a long piece of toffee and cutting it with scissors whilst turning the toffee back and forth to get the cushion shape. 

My nana and dad also used to make other toffee sweeties.  They used to put the toffee through a mangle type of thing that had shaped rollers which produced the shape of sweetie you wanted.  The rollers were just changed to get different shapes."

Clootie Dumplings

"My Nana also used to make clootie dumplings for sale in the shop, heaven fried with sugar on top. She hardly made very much money as the Cowgate wasn't as popular as it is today, although she worked long, hard days in the shop.

This was probably what prompted my dad to take a van round the houses in Niddrie and Craigmillar - as well as making an extra pound to feed his growing family."

Elliot Laing, Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland:  March 19, 2011




Elaine Hamilton

Berwick upon Tweed. Northumberland, England

Elaine Hamilton wrote:

My Mum

Marie Estelle (née Stella Christie)

"My mum, Marie Estelle née Christie (known as Stella) was born in 1933.

She grew up in St Mary's Street / Hill Square, and went to:

-  St Ann's PrimarySchool

-   St Thomas of Aquins High School

-  St Patrick's RC Church in the Cowgate.

She was the youngest five siblings.  They were:

-  Andrew

-  John

-  Anne (known as Nancy)

-  Margaret (known as Babs)

-  Marie (known as Stella)

For a time, I believe their dad had a baker's shop in Barony Street.  It was in a basement).

Does anyone have any memories of my mum at any of these places and, specifically, of being evacuated during the Second World War with her sister, Babs were.  I believe they went to Berwick upon Tweed."

Elaine Hamilton, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland, England:  March 10, 2012

Reply to Elaine?

If you remember Stella Christie or any of her family and would like to send a message to Elaine, please email me to let me know, then I'll give you her email address.    Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  March 10, 2012


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