Niddrie Mill

About 3 miles ESE of the centre of Edinburgh




Lyndsay (formerly Linda) Montgomery

Old Town, Edinburgh

Reading recollections of  Pentland Garage reminded Lyndsay of her own local garage at Niddrie Mill as she grew up.

Lyndsay wrote:

Niddrie Mill Garage

Garage Next Door

"Reading about Sonny's Pentland Garage brought back my childhood.  I lived at a very busy junction at Niddrie Mill, and never had any brothers or sisters, but the local garage was right next door to me.  It was the first building on the Newcraighall Road.

My father, who had always had a car,  knew the boys in the garage very well.  He would borrow tools there if he didn't have them already, and I was always with him when he went in."

Playing in the Garage

"After I started school, I was allowed to go and play in the garage, a dangerous place for a five year old I hear you say.  But, each day after school, I would get changed and be off 'to help out at the garage'."

Bob, Wullie and Billy

"The head mechanic was Bob Patterson from Musselburgh, a bloke of my father's age with a daughter of his own There was another mechanic called Wullie Watts who lived with his parents at the small cottages just opposite the English Church at the corner of the Newcraighall Rd.  The apprentice, also Billy, came from Wauchope Square."

Mr Nicol

"The owner was Mr Nicol, I never knew him as anything else. His brother owned the coal yard behind the garage. Mr Nicol had his office just at the end of the petrol pump area in a little wooden buildingThere was a store room at the back of his office that housed car parts that were small enough to be kept on shelves.

On days when I had decided that helping out in the garage was getting boring, I would go into the stores and rearrange them (play with them).  As long as they were put back on shelves, it was allowed. Meanwhile, when I 'worked' in the garage, I would sit and pass whichever mechanic was busy, under a car for instance, whatever tools he needed."

Helping in the Garage

"By the time I was six, I knew more about cars than school work.  I was helping to bleed brakes and driving cars from the front garage to the back by the time I was 10."


"My first accident was when I was about 8.  There was a nest in the roof, inside the garage, and there were baby birds in it, I was standing near one of the pits and someone pointed out that the littlies were about to try out their wings.  I looked up,  forgot about the pit, and fell down the hole!

I did the same again a few years later in the pit for the coal  lorries  -  a glutton for punishment you would say!!"


"I started secondary school at Portobello at the same time as a new apprentice started at the garage. He was Mr. Nicol's nephew, Philip. He was about 17 or 18 and had gone to the Royal High, and I wondered what on earth he was doing ,or had done to deserve this poor lowly paid job."


"The boss had a big old Austin, that sat in the back garage.  It was about this time that, people had started using paraffin heaters, and it was decided that they would install a tank in the car, and Philip would go around delivering or selling paraffin to folks.

Naturally I went too, just to stop him from getting up to mischief.  I'm sure he would have liked to have seen the back of me, but he took it all good naturedly, and we always had a laugh, me telling him the dirty jokes I had learned at school, and him telling me even dirtier ones."

Ice Lollies and Sweets

"His Uncle, the Boss, was really one of the nicest men I knew, he even made ice lollies for us kids when he bought a fridge to sell ice-cream from.

Chocolates and sweets soon followed, I'm not sure if he ever made much of a profit, but growing up there, my life was always a happy one. My father always thought I should have been a boy!!"

Lyndsay (formerly Lynda) Montgomery:  Old Town, Edinburgh:  August 29, 2008




Lyndsay Montgomery

Old Town, Edinburgh

Thank you to Lyndsay Montgomery who wrote again about Niddrie Mill.

Lyndsay wrote:

Gala Day

"When I was young we always had a holiday for the Gala Day which, at that time for us around Niddrie Mill, was held in the park behind the Jewel Cottages.

Someone else has provided a photo of boys racing on bikes there."

Cycle Track at The Jewel, Edinburgh

Niddrie Gala

"At the Gala, us kids got a bag with a pie, a cake, some juice or milk and sweets.  There were races for us and silly ones for the adults -  a chance for the community to relax and have a laugh.

The only bad part to it was the night before the festivities I had dead straight hair, but my mother would put ringlets in it, made with scraps of cloth.  My hair was pulled tightly and rolled up, very painfully, with much tugging and pulling, with the idea that the transformation in the morning would make me look much better. 

The Miners' Gala

"When I went to  Portobello Senior Secondary school, a friend, Irene Law or Cherry, and I made our way to Holyrood Park to join the fray of a large scale Miner's Gala Day.

Lyndsay (formerly Lynda) Montgomery:  Old Town, Edinburgh:  September 2009, 2008




Bobby Vass

Old Town, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bobby Vass who wrote:

Memory Lane

"I must say that I am delighted to read the recollections about the garage on your 'memory lane' site.  It takes meback a bit."


"I was born in Newcraighall in 1936 and stayed at Wisp Cottages until I got married in 1957 and moved to Prestonpans, where I still stay.

My School days finished in 1951. I left Niddrie Marischal School on a Friday and started my apprenticeship at the garage as a motor mechanic on the Monday. I believe that would have been a bit before Linda Montgomery comments in Recollections 2.

Finding work at the Garage, only 5 minutes from the Wisp, is what started me on my life's career, repairing lorries, until I retired at the age of 65 from 'Pollock, Musselburgh' in 2001.

The Garage Mechanics

"If my memory serves me well, I think Linda's father was a Brewery lorry driver, possibly with 'Campbell Hope & King'.

 Yes, I recall:

-   Bob Patterson, the Foreman

William Bates, the other mechanic, who as was stated lived in the cottages opposite the English Church.

Both were very good tradesmen who encouraged my training."

A Coal Business

"Apart from having the Garage, Bobby and John Nicol operated the coal supply business as has been mentioned earlier.  It was named 'Nicol Bros' and had a fleet of about 10 to 12 green Bedfords."

Bobby Vass, Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland


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