Streets to the north of Saughton Park and to the west of Gorgie




Elizabeth Livingston

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to Elizabeth Livingston for sending her recollections of the time when she lived in Whitson Terrace and attended Ballgreen School, round the corner.

Elizabeth wrote:


"The people I remember from Whitson Terrace and 98 Whitson Road were the:

-  Jordans

-  Fogartys

-  McLoughlins

-  Livingastons

-  McMillands

-  Farmers

-  Ulks

-  Marinos



-  Joyces

-  Haggertys

-  Grays

-  Walkers

-  Grandisons

-  Burns

and many more."

Housing, Shops and Schools

"Our suburban area, at the end of World War II, was a fairly new, containing many young families who had moved in from overcrowded areas of the City.

 The accommodation was mainly three-storied tenements each with two or three bedroom apartments.  The local shops, chemist, grocers, newsagent/post office and drysalters were vehicles for information exchange among the residents.

Children attended one of the two local schools, Catholic or Protestant. There was a local library and a large park nearby."

Return from the Forces

"Most of the households had men who were still serving in the forces and 'single mothers' headed many of the families for most of the year.

We were all quite familiar with the 'Welcome Home' banners to honor the returning servicemen and women, especially those who had been prisoners of war."

Street Parties

"The women organized street parties.  In our street, Mrs. M was a familiar figure who would often come round and chap on the doors to gain monetary and human support for the street party.

She also came around when someone had died to collect for a wreath for the deceased person and support for the family.

The sheer luxury of ice cream, jelly and cake were looked forward to for days before the street party. Women would be baking cakes, sponges, shortbread and their special recipe for the party."


"Our usual snack consisted of raw carrots, liquorice root, dry oatmeal, cocoa and sugar, when it was available, and rhubarb.

The latter usually came from someone’s garden patch. I believe that my good teeth are due to the scarcity of rationed sweeties and the custom of snacking on raw carrots, which were scraped against the wall."

School Dinners

"School dinners were available during the holidays. The menu did not change much. It was usually, soup, cake custard, mince and macaroni, and prunes and custard.

There were often ‘seconds' which many of the boys took advantage of.  It was a good hot dinner for sixpence or a shilling."

'Latch-key' Kids

"The school children in the area were mainly 'latch-key' kids.  It was a common sight to see a child with a key on a string around his/her neck.

Most of the mothers had some kind of job -  dinner lady, school cleaner, cook or maid in someone’s house.  These menial tasks brought extra money into the households to supplement service pensions. Someone’s mum was always around to act as an unofficial substitute mother.


"Across from the bus stop there was a 'plantation' where we used to play hide and seek.  Down from the School there was the Pansy Walk which led into Roseburn. At the top of Balgreen Road, there were swings, Rose Gardens and the 'haunted house'."

"During the school summer holidays, we had our favorite haunts.

-  We organized picnics in the park

-  We, fished for minnows in the burn (Water of Leith) down by the Rose Gardens.   We used the precious jam jars as a bowl for the minnows, or for butterflies or catching bees down the Pansy Walk.

-  We paddled in the burn using the natural stepping-stones to cross to the other side.   It was wonderful and refreshing on a hot sunny day. The water was cooling, clear and pleasant to walk in. It also washed the dirt off our feet.

-  The 'haunted house' of Saughton Park kept us in a spirit of imagination. The Lady in White was one of the myths. Everyone claimed to have seen her!  I'm still in the dark about the old mansion.

-  The mixed game of “kick the can” in the street gave the girls the opportunity to “take on the boys”. The thrill of getting past the can-fetcher to kick the can and run out of sight was a highlight. The exercise was good and it was a fine way to use up energy in the late summer nights. The worst thing that could happen was someone’s mother shouting out the window that it was bedtime. A perpetual spoilsport.

Trips to Portobello and Cramond

"On special occasions, a group of us would meet with our picnic lunches which consisted of lemonade, bread, jam or paste sandwiches.  We rode the bus to Portobello, nicknamed 'Portie', or Cramond.

It was fun to be on the beaches and try to ‘get a tan'  Some adults would leave us their deckchairs to 'finish out' the paid time.  That was a luxury.

Most of us had collected jam jars or farthings to scrape up enough money for the bus fare to our destination."

Indoor Play

"The rainy days posed more of a challenge to our creativity.  It was a disadvantage to us to be 'cooped up' in the house or in  the stairwell.

Our tenement had a large windowsill on both landings. We would sit on this and exchange scraps or film stars' portraits.

We also had our repertoire of inside games and activities such as jumping down a flight of stairs, or “dreeping” from the ledge of the landing.

We also used the back entrance to practice for the backgreen concerts.  The chorus of:

'We are the Whitson girls,
We have come to show ourselves,
can dance and we can sing,
We can do the highland fling,
We are the Whitson girls'

was the opening of many a concert.

Two of our group organized such a concert with the benefits going towards the Sick Children's Hospital. They even got a write-up in the evening tabloid.

The stumbling blocks to our indoor play were the tenants who yelled at us to 'Keep quiet'.  Some of the men were on night shift and we were disturbing their sleep - a genuine complaint."

Air Raid Shelters

"The shelters were still in the back greens during this era. They were good for playing hides and seek and postman’s knock they also served as pinnacles from which to run down.

If somebody’s washing was hanging out, we were often cautioned not run through the clothes. There seemed to be a competition for the whitest wash!"


"Mick the milkman drove the horse and cart from the Store (St Cuthbert's) to deliver milk and rolls around the district.  Many a child or adult brought a treat for the horse, usually a carrot or sugar cubes."

Gas Man

"The day the gas man was in the area there was great excitement.  We waited anxiously as he counted out the pennies and shillings from the meter, hoping for a good rebate.

We all received a few extra pennies for treats after he had gone. When our funds were low, we looked for farthings and jam jars to scrape up enough money to our local cinemas, the Roxy or the Tiv."

When we were at a loose end due to lack of funds, the potential for mischief was increased. We had standard pranks, which are not new to the younger generation, of tying two door handles together with string and ringing the door bells.  We would watch with glee as the two neighbors were caught in the lark.


"Chores were still part of the routine during the summer time. We just had longer time to do them. The messages from St. Cuthbert’s (to get the ‘divi') took up most of the Saturday mornings.

The butcher was the first stop. The floor had sawdust strewn all over it. We would queue up for the best ration of meat.  When we came out of the butchers we dragged a line of sawdust into the grocers.

Here we had long benches to sit on as we waited in the queue to be served. The ration books had to be produced for certain items, cheese, jam. eggs and fruit.

I still have a vivid memory of the 'flying cash machines' which sped from the counter to the accountant’s office, along a wire.

On certain days, extra fruit would arrive in the store and we would be rationed to a pound per book. The assistant marked the back of the book in pencil. I wonder if he knew how many people rubbed it out and came back in again.  It was not a very honorable thing to do, but we did it!

Making Money

"Some of our group had Saturday jobs,  going messages for the neighbour.  The pay was something like a half-crown a week.

Other means of making money were to wash the stairs and the landing in the building, collect jam jars and bottles, or baby-sit. The latter usually meant walking out with a child in a pram, or being around while the mother was busy with other tasks.

There was also the occasion of the ‘pour out'.  This happened when there was a wedding. The best man would throw out a handful of coins and the children scrambled for them."

'The Good Old Days

"Children of all generations are creative; it is part of normal development. Memories are an integral part of life that is important to all individuals.

People remember with nostalgia the happy times and their roots as 'the good old days'.

Elizabeth Livingston, North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada:  February 13, 2009




Elizabeth Livingston

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to Elizabeth Livingston who wrote again, sending a photograph of some of the Whitson Street children.

Elizabeth wrote:

Street Photo

"One day, around summer 1948, a photographer came around and said he would come back to take a photo.

I don't know the photographer's name, but here is the photo.  Most of these kids in it are from around Whitson Terrace."

Children in Whitson Terrace, around 1948 ©

Please click on the thumbnail image above to enlarge it and read more about it, including the names of many of the children in the photo.

Elizabeth Livingston, North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada:  February 13, 2009




Avril Russell

Whitson, Edinburgh

Thank you to Avril Russell, Whitson, Edinburgh, for posting a message in the EdinPhoto guestbook.

Avril wrote:

Play at Whitson

"I was born in Edinburgh in 1946 and brought up in Whitson Road I remember the Jordons and the Greys from Whitson Terrace.

I went to Balgreen School with my twin brother, Alan, and  have an older brother Billy Jonny and sister Pat.

We used to play down the Pansy Walk.  We played in the Water of Leith with inner tube tyres.  What fun we had!"

Avril Russell, Whitson, Edinburgh:   Message posted in EdinPhoto guest book:  February  28, 2009




Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan who replied to Elizabeth Livingston's recollections in 1 above.

Danny wrote:

Uncle Mike

"Elizabeth Livingston makes mention of my Uncle Mike, the Store milkman.  Uncle Mike loved his horses and looked after them with pride.  He always had a big smile on his face. 

The biggest problem he used to have on his round was not offending his customers.  He seemed to have a regular rota of getting his breakfast and mid-morning cuppa at various houses on different days.   If he was offered a break which was not his regular rota, he had to juggle things about as he would never offend."


"Uncle Mike was injured in an accident with the milk float.    He tried to grab hold of the reins as the horse bolted for the Water of Leith, but fell under the cart.  The wheels ran right down one side of him.

 He was in hospital a long time, and had regular visits from his round regulars.  Although he recovered, he was never able to return to his beloved milk round.   I remember the times I went to see him and him all strapped up etc he still had a joke and smile.

He never gave up the horses and went back to work in the stables looking after them."

Heggarty Family

"Elizabeth Livingston from Vancouver above mentions the Heggarty family.     Margaret Heggarty of that family married my cousin Jim Marshall mentioned in the Abbeyhill recollections.

Margaret and Jim started a family in Edinburgh then moved to Edmonton, Canada.   Elizabeth and Margaret were school friends going to St Cuthberts School and Church and remain friends.  Elizabeth recently visited Margaret in Edmonton." 

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  February 16 + 28 and March 2, 2010




Paul Danesi

Rhode Island, USA

Thank you to Paul Danesi who wrote:


"My mom was born in Edinburgh and lived at 93 Whitson Road.  She married my dad right after the war and moved to Rhode Island (US).

Some of the happiest times of my life were my trips to Edinburgh to visit with my Scottish family.  I loved the city of Edinburgh and often think about how wonderful it would be to visit again.  I took my family to see the remaining family about 15 years ago and it was good to be able to identify all the people and places that I had talked about."


"Strangely enough,  Avril Russell (3 above) lived above my grandmother.  I remember AvrilIt was good seeing her name.

I will always remember the St. Cuthbert cart coming down the street and pleading to get m favorite treat. 

I also remember:

the air raid shelter in the backyard.

-  the train tracks and the golf course. 

-  hearing the roars of the lions in Edinburgh Zoo, in the summer."

Paul Danesi, Rhode Island, USA:  January 11, 2011



Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan who wrote:

'Whitson Mick'

"Many have commented on the site about the store milkman in the Whitson area, my Uncle Mick, a man always with a smile.

Mick Callaghan on his milk round - probably somewhere around Whitson, Edinburgh  -  When? ©

We have trawled through the family photos to find one of Mick with his beloved horse and we hit the jackpot.      Guessing from the dress of the child, my uncles age would probably have been taken late-50s.

Uncle Mick always wore his cap and great coat to keep out the weather and his 'milk bottle' glasses and of course the smile.   No Gore-Tex protective work wear with fluorescent stripes in those days!

Maybe you recognise yourself as the lucky child or know exactly where this picture was taken and when.    We would be interested to hear.

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  January 20, 2011

Reply to Danny?

Please email me if you'd like to send a reply to Danny.  Then I'll pass your message to him.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  January 27, 2011


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