Looking down

Blackfriars Street

Edinburgh Old Town

June 16, 1961

Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 - Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town

©  Indiana University, Charles W Cushman Collection                                                                                              Archive ID:  P12326


Enlarge this photo

   Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 - Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town ©


Blackfriars Street


This photo was taken on Kodachrome film by amateur photographer, Charles W Cushman (1896-1972) from the USA during his visit to Edinburgh in 1961.

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'.

George MacKay

For many years, George Mackay, bowling green bowls manufacturer has been based at the foot of Blackfriars Street.

Please click on the thumbnail image below to see more views outside and inside his premises.

George Mackay

Blackfriars Street

George Mackay - Bolwing Green Bowl Makers  -  Photographed 1991 ©



Questions and Answers



Here is a question - followed by some answers about this photo.

Please keep scrolling down this page to read more

Questions and Answers


Brian Clapp

Is it St Mary's Street?


Peter Stubbs

It's Blackfriars Street


Ian Mycko
Gilmerton, Edinburgh

It's Blackfriars Street


Eric Gold
East London

It looks like St Mary's Street


Liz Miller
St Brelade,
Channel Islands

At first I thought it was St Mary's Street

-  Moray House School


Donald Grant
Penicuik, Midlothian

I had doubts, but it's Blackfriars Street


Mike Gradone
New York, USA

It's Blackfriars Street

-  The Reid Family


Craig Mitchell

It's Blackfriar's Street, and that's my
great gran looking out the window.


Jim Woolard

It's Blackfriar's Street.  My elder
brother managed The shoe repair
shoe shop shown in this picture.



Peter Stanton

St Cuthbert's Bakery Van



Thank you to Brian Clapp who wrote:

Is it St Mary's Street?

    Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 -  Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town ©

"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 now.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  April 24, 2008


Answer 1

It's Blackfriars Street

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.

   Looking down Blackfriars Street  -  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


Answer 2

It's Blackfriars Street

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 Street.

As you 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 pictures.

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 night ."

Ian Mycko, Gilmerton, Edinburgh:  April 24, 2008


Answer 3

It looks like St Mary's Street

Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 -  Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town ©

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:

Sketch of the Old Town of Edinburgh, including High Street, Cowgate and South Bridge  -  1830 ©

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:

   Looking down Blackfriars Street  -  2008 ©

Peter Stubbs:  April 24, 2008


Answer 4

At first, I thought it was St Mary's Street

Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 -  Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town ©

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:

   Looking down Blackfriars Street  -  2008 ©

Liz added:

Moray House School

"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


Answer 5

Thank you to Donald Grant who wrote:

Blackfriars Street

"I've 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 beyond doubt.

It was good of Phil to point you in the direction of the Cushman photos."

Donald Grant, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland


Answer 6

Thank you to Mike Gradone who wrote:

Blackfriars Street

"As you say the picture is definitely Blackfriars Street.

My grandparents lived there for many years, before moving to the newly built Lochview Court in Dumbiedykes, and my mother grew up in 'Blackie'."

The Reid Family

"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


Answer 7

Thank you for the message from Craig Mitchell, formerly of 42 Dumbiedykes Road.  Craig has now returned to Edinburgh.

Craig wrote:

Blackfriars Street

"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


Answer 8

Thank you to Jim Woodlard, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia who wrote:

Blackfriars Street

"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




Peter Stanton

Niddrie, Edinburgh

Thank you to Peter Stanton who recognised the van in this photo and wrote:

St Cuthbert's

Bakery Van

    Photograph taken by Charles W Cushman in 1961 -  Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh Old Town ©

"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 up."

Peter Stanton, Niddrie, Edinburgh:  June 5, 2012

Blackfriars Street

It looks as if this van might have been parked outside Peter's home.


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