St James Square




Gloria M Rigg

New Zealand

Thank you to GM Rigg for posting this message in the EdinPhoto guest book:

Church Hall

"I  can't remember the name of our local church hall used for Brownies, Girl Guides, Sunday School, etc., but I think it would have been owned/run by Greenside Church, which was next door to the Playhouse cinema/theatre."

Sunday School

"I remember that we had a really nice American girl called Hazel Berry who ran the Sunday School, as well as outings and picnics (We went to Peebles, once.)

She was training for the ministry. When she left, she bought each child a Bible and gave each of us an American 1 cent coin and Bazooka bubble gum !"

Message posted in EdinPhoto Guest Book:  Gloria M Rigg, New Zealand:  April 7, 2009




Gloria M Rigg

New Zealand

Thank you to GM Rigg for adding these further memories to the guest book:


"The businesses around the St James' Square & Greenside areas that I remember from the late-1950s and early-1970s are:

- Strachan's, the Ladies Hairdressers.  This was where I had my hair cut as a child,  and my mum had her perms done.

It was situated at the Leith Walk clock tower junction,  just off London Road, just around the corner from Rankins the fruit & vegetable shop.

The barber's shop off St James' Square, on East Register Street at the Princes Street end.  This is was where my brothers had their hair cut.

It was accessed down a wide flight of steps, and there was a huge model of a bear on a striped pole over the door.

I'm pretty sure I saw the bear on the pole at Huntly House Museum years later.

The big pharmacy on Elm Row that still had all the Victorian jars, bottles and drawers that you would expect to see in a museum now.

- Timothy White's, the chemist shop opposite Jerome's "THE" photographers.

- Valvona & Crolla on Elm Row. This was everyone's favourite 'smellicatessen', as we kids used to call it.  It's a lot posher now than it was in the 1950's.

- The Dolls Hospital, opposite St Mary's RC Cathedral, in the basement, if memory serves.  It was between the Deep Sea & Meiklejohn's, the grocer.

"I have a vague recollection of the Doll's Hospital being near the West Port.

I also noticed, many years ago, that there was  a Doll's Hospital at Dalry Road, Haymarket. It has now gone from there."

Lynda Maine, Colinton Mains, Edinburgh
May 8, 2009

Tony Ivanov replied:

"I can remember the Doll's Hospital in the 1950s.  It was actually in the Grassmarket at the foot of the West Port.

To be more precise, at the foot of the West Port turn left and it was just a few doors along."

Tony Ivanov, Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland:
 May 11, 2009

The only other shop I can remember in the street was a pharmacy (or similar) as it had medical instruments in the window, presumably to sell to the many medical students lodging in the area

Message posted in EdinPhoto Guest Book:  Gloria M Rigg, New Zealand:  April 25, 2009




Betty Fraser (née Simpson)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Betty Fraser wrote:

St James Square  -  YWCA

"By the way, does anyone remember the 'YW'  -   the YWCA club which was in a hall in St James Square circa 1945-48.

It was run by Mrs Masters?"

Betty Fraser:  Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:  November 8, 2008




Alan R Hall

Sedgefield, County Durham, England

Thank you to Alan R Hall who wrote:

Recent Photos

"Thanks for adding your up-to-date photos of St James' Square to the web site."

    St James Square  -  June 2012 ©

United Free Church

"My mother will be particularly interested to see the square as it is now because she knew it well during the late 1920s when she, her parents and her brother used to attend St James' United Free Church in St James' Place.

She was also a member of the Brownies there, before the family moved out to Morningside and then Bruntsfield.

The Church building still stands immediately behind St Mary's Cathedral, although I understand that it's no longer used by the Church of Scotland and may possibly be used by the Cathedral."


"My mother recalls my grandfather saying, back then, that some of the houses in the square had wonderful staircases.  It  would be interesting to know if any survive in the remaining section of the square although I guess the houses may well have been sub-divided in the intervening period."

SMT Buses

"My own memories of the square are from rather later, of course, when the SMT buses coming down the Bridges used to sweep over the junction at the Post Office, up East Register Street, through the square and down the top of Elder Street into the 'new' bus station."

Alan R Hall, Sedgefield, County Durham, England:  June 29, 2012




Gloria M Rigg

New Zealand

Thank you to G M Rigg for posting this message in the EdinPhoto Guestbook, in response to Alan R Hall's 'Recollections 4' above:

St James' United Free Church

"St James' United Free Church was closed (as a church) in 1933. 

I was born in 1954 and only remember it as the GPO Parcel Sorting Office.

I believe that it is now a storage facility for the John Lewis store at the St James Shopping Centre."

Gloria M Rigg, New Zealand:  Message posted in EdinPhoto Guestbook:  May 2, 2013




James M Wilkins

Northampton, Northamptonshire, England

Thank you to James M Wilkins who wrote:

Blacksmith at Brown's

"It was interesting to read the comments above on Greenside.

I served my time as a blacksmith, starting in December 1965 at A T Brown.  They had premises at the very  bottom of the stairs that led down Greenside Place, beside Lady Glenorchy Church.

William Leitch & Co, soft drinks, were just along the road at Greenside Lane.

I lived in Easter Road and walked to work every morning via London Road Gardens."

James M Wilkins, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England:  August 13, 2013




Cathy Robertson

Brunstane, Edinburgh

Thank you to Cathy Robertson who wrote:

Family at Greenside

"Greenside holds many happy memories for me:

-  We used to stay in Greenside Row.

-  My Granny lived there before being re-housed at West Crosscauseway.

-   My dad also lived at  Simpson's Court, Greenside"


"On a Sunday my dad played football in Simpsons Court with his brothers and many others.  My sister and I would sometimes be the lookouts in case the police turned up as you were not allowed to play football there on a Sunday.

If the police turned up the team used to scatter.  I remember my grandmother, who lived in Simpsons Court, would open her door and in would pile some the footballers escaping the police."

Cathy Robertson, Brunstane, Edinburgh:  August 17, 2013

Cathy was re-housed from Greenside  to Craigentinny, and writes "We could not believe that at Craigentinny we had an inside toilet and more than two rooms."




Doug Richardson

Thank you to Doug Richardson who wrote:


Lady in Black with a Gramophone

"Reading some of the 'Recollections' pages on this site has brought back to me several memories of the Edinburgh of  1950s.

One (which I don't think is mentioned on the site) is that of a lady dressed in black who used to sit on a folding chair at a location near the kerb just up the road from the Playhouse cinema, and play records on an old-fashioned wind-up gramophone.

 She displayed a sign that claimed that she was suffering from a severe nervous breakdown. 

Busking Bagpipers

"At least she had more style than the 'busking bagpipers' I saw in Edinburgh during a visit in the 1990s."

Doug Richardson:  February16, 2015


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