Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven  -  Social History

Police Horse-drawn

Prison Coach


Edinburgh Social History Photographs  -  J Banks, Chimney Sweep, Newhaven (perhaps)

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to The Museum of Edinburgh

Police Horse-drawn Prison Coach

Here is a prison coach from earlier times.  The photograph was takin in Edinburgh, but I do not know the date or location.




Kim Traynor

Tollcross, Edinburgh

Thank you to Kim Traynor who wrote:

Black Maria.

"I think the vehicle is a Black Maria.  We were still calling the motorised versions by the same name in the 1950s.

Kim Traynor, Tollcross, Edinburgh:  October 2, 2009




Kim Traynor

Tollcross, Edinburgh

Kim Traynor added:

Prison Van

"In an idle moment, I realised that the vehicle on this page is always referred to in Victorian literature as a ‘prison van’, not a coach.

There’s a well-known Fenian song about springing prisoners en route to Manchester Strangeways Prison, called :

'The Boys That Smashed The Van'.”

Kim Traynor, Tollcross, Edinburgh:  October 3, 2009




John J Hadden


John J Hadden wrote:

Calton Jail?

"Seeing the castellated top of the wall in the background, could this photo have been taken in Calton Jail?"

John J Hadden, Edinburgh:  October 3, 2009



Kim Traynor

Tollcross, Edinburgh

Kim wrote:

The Vennel?

"I notice also that you asked for suggestions regarding location.

 The wall behind the van looks very like the stretch of the Telfer Wall at the top of the Vennel. You can see a blocked-up window just to the right of the men. I’ll keep a look out for that next time I’m passing through the Vennel."

Kim Traynor, Tollcross, Edinburgh:  October 3, 2009

Kim later added:

The Vennel or Calton Gaol?

"I suppose the key to the location also lies in finding a match for the castellated wall in the upper left of the picture. That could also be the Vennel where the Flodden Wall further down the slope is castellated.

Or it might suggest they are inside a wall of the old Calton Gaol, having perhaps just delivered a prisoner!"

Kim Traynor, Tollcross, Edinburgh:  October 3, 2009

Kim wrote again

It's not The Vennel

"A couple of weeks ago, I walked through the Vennel and kept a close look-out for a blocked-up window which I’d imagined I’d seen before.

I found none, so I think we can rule out the Vennel as a possible location for this photo.  The Calton Gaol seems to have it."

Kim Traynor, Tollcross, Edinburgh:  December 13, 2009




Simon Capaldi

Ashford, Kent, England

Simon wrote:

Prison Wall

"Having been inside Saughton jail (in a professional role) the high wall reminds me of the walls there.  They are so high that corn on the cob grows in the shelter of them."

Simon Capaldi, Ashford, Kent:  October 5, 2009

Prison Wall

The walls may be similar to those at Saughton jail, but the jail at Saughton would not have been built when this photo was taken.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 5, 2009




Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Bob wrote:

Governor's House

Old Calton Jail

    Engraving in 'Modern Athens  -  The Governor's House and the North Bridge ©

    Engravng from Modern Athens  -  Calton Jail in Regent Road ©

"If you look carefully, you will see that the castellations are on the top of a rounded tower which is a match for the castellations on the Governor's House of the old Calton Jail."

Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  October 3, 2009


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