Edinburgh Old Town
June 16, 1961
Indiana University, Charles W Cushman Collection
Archive ID: P12326
This photo was taken on
Kodachrome film by amateur photographer,
Charles W Cushman
(1896-1972) from the USA during his visit to Edinburgh
The photo was taken on June
16, 1961, looking down Blackfriars Street towards the Cowgate.
Blackfriars Street runs parallel to South Bridge, a short distance to the
west of South Bridge. It is one of the streets that links the Royal
Mile to Cowgate.
'Scandic Crown Hotel', a 6-storey, 238 bedroom hotel, was built on
the west side of Blackfriars Street in 1989 in a style to match some of
the old buildings in Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
The hotel was sold in 2004 and is now 'Radisson SAS Hotel'.
For many years, George Mackay,
bowling green bowls manufacturer has been based at the foot of Blackfriars
Please click on the thumbnail image below to see more views
outside and inside his premises.
Here is a question - followed
answers about this photo.
Please keep scrolling down this page to read more
Is it St Mary's Street?
It's Blackfriars Street
It looks like St Mary's Street
At first I thought it was St Mary's Street
- Moray House School
I had doubts, but it's
New York, USA
- The Reid Family
It's Blackfriar's Street,
and that's my
great gran looking out the window.
It's Blackfriar's Street.
brother managed The shoe repair
shoe shop shown in this picture.
St Cuthbert's Bakery Van
Thank you to Brian Clapp who wrote:
Is it St
"Is it not possible that this is St Mary's
Street? I think that's the Pleasance climbing away from the Cowgate on
the right of the photograph.
Brian Clapp, Edinburgh: April 24, 2008
It may be St Mary's Street.
As soon as I saw that photo, I thought it was St Mary's Street, but I
checked on old maps and in the trade directories and concluded that it
could be either Blackfriars Street or St Mary's Street.
I was not able to find the two shops in the
photo listed in the trade directory for either Blackfriars Street or St
Mary's Street. I'll investigate further.
I'll go and have a look at the two streets
Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: April 24, 2008
I've just been to look at and photograph St Mary's Street and
Blackfriars Street. There's no doubt; the 1961 photo is of
Blackfriars Street as the photographer stated.
Please click on the thumbnail image below to see photos comparing the
street in 1961 and 2008.
There appears to have been very little change to the buildings on the left-hand
(east) side of the street, looking down the hill towards Cowgate, between
1961 and 2008.
The church was a United Presbyterian
Church. It's no longer in use. It has the date, 1871, carved
above its doorway.
Peter Stubbs: April 24, 2008
Thank you to Ian Mycko who wrote:
"You are bang on, it's Blackfriars Street. The
street at the bottom is Cowgate and the street heading up the hill is Infirmary
know, I grew up in Dumbiedykes and know the area well. The opening half
way down on left was back door of St Ann's school (my primary). Brilliant
Just as a
wee footnote: Blackfriars Street (or Blackie as we knew it) was once one
of the most notorious streets in Edinburgh - not one to walk down on a dark
Ian Mycko, Gilmerton, Edinburgh: April 24, 2008
like St Mary's Street
Thank you to Eric Gold who wrote:
"I was looking at the photo of Blackfriars Street in
Edinburgh Old Town and it appears to me that it is St Maryís Street as I
recognised the wee close on the left and at the bottom of the photos is the
Salvation Army, the dossers' place near Scobie Taylors shop.
At the end of Blackfriars Street you have a narrow
wee street leading up to and past the High School Yards going in to Drummond
Street and Iím positive it was called High School Wynd, on the right of the Wynd
you have the old Waverley Buildings were my aunt lived, and on your photo you
can see the Infirmary Street Baths Chimney, so I would gamble on St Maryís
Street, I will be in touch so "
Eric Gold, East London: April 24, 2008.
Reply to Answer 3
Hi Eric: In fact you'll see from the link below that the street is
Blackfriars Street. The street running almost straight ahead at the bottom
of Blackfriars Street is Infirmary Street.
Here is a sketch, drawn a few months ago when there was a discussion about
schools, churches and industry around this part of the Cowgate. It shows
the streets in the area:
You're right in saying that the street straight ahead at the bottom of
Blackfriars Street is High School Wynd. It goes past High School Yards, but it then turns right at the
former Infirmary Street Baths and becomes Infirmary Street. It joins South Bridge opposite Chamber Street.
There's a set of steps (now closed) leading from this corner in Infirmary
Street up to Drummond Street.
Here is a photo of Blackfriars Street that I took earlier this afternoon:
Peter Stubbs: April 24, 2008
I thought it was St Mary's Street
This photo seems to have attracted a lot of interest. So far,
has been on the web site for less than 24 hours, and here is another
message that I've just received.
Thank you to Liz Miller who wrote:
"As soon as I looked at this photo I thought,
"That's St. Mary's Street!" I haven't been down Blackfriars Street for more
years than I care to remember, but I didn't think there was a street directly
opposite it on the other side of the Cowgate.
I did think the road opposite in the photo looked
like the road going up the Pleasance towards what was the Deaconess Hospital.
Strange how the memory can play tricks. I shall look when next in Edinburgh!"
Liz: if you'd like a quick look now, try this link:
"I left Edinburgh for Jersey in 1969. I still
go back at least once a year, though - and love to look at the old photos. I
went to Moray House School, and several schoolmates lived in the Canongate
/Dumbiedykes Pleasance area."
Liz Miller, St Brelade, Channel Islands
Thank you to Donald Grant who wrote:
just seen the photos and comments about Blackfriars Street on the site.
Oddly I had the same doubts about the location as
Brian Clapp and mentioned it in an email to Phil Wilson but your photo puts it
It was good of Phil to point you in the direction of
the Cushman photos."
Donald Grant, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland
Thank you to Mike Gradone who wrote:
"As you say the picture is definitely Blackfriars
My grandparents lived there for many years,
before moving to the newly built Lochview Court in Dumbiedykes, and my
mother grew up in 'Blackie'."
"My motherís name was Dorothy Reid and my
grandparentís were John and Martha Reid. Sadly they are no longer with us
but I would love to hear from anyone who remembers them."
Mike Gradone, New York, USA
Thank you for the message from Craig Mitchell, formerly of 42 Dumbiedykes
Road. Craig has now returned to Edinburgh.
"I've just discovered your old picture of
Blackfriars Street. Fantastic!
From reading the comments I know there was
some initial doubt as to whether it was 'Blackie' or not but as soon as I
saw the pic I knew it was.
Looking out of the window at no.13 (the stair
entrance between Whites and Carrs in the pic) is my great grandmother
Catherine (Casey) McKinley.
My dad was actually born in that room and I
spent many happy times as a child at no.13 with my late grandmother
Margaret (McKinley) Mitchell."
Craig Mitchell, Edinburgh: July 13, 2008
Thank you to Jim Woodlard, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia who wrote:
"Blackfriars Street is the correct street. My
elder brother, George, used to manage the shoe repair shop, Carrs, shown in
picture. When I was a school boy, I earned my pocket money helping in the shop"
Jim Woolard, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: June 4, 2010
Thank you to Peter Stanton who recognised the van in this photo and
"I was the driver of this van. I never
forgot its Reg. No. FSF 810. It was the first that I drove after passing
my driving test.
I stayed in No 5, Blackfriars Street, five flights
Peter Stanton, Niddrie, Edinburgh: June 5, 2012
It looks as if this van might
have been parked outside Peter's home.