Hugh Leckie & Sons
© Reproduced with
acknowledgement to Ron Leckie, California, USA
Leckie's Coal Yard
Thank you to Ron Leckie, California, USA,
for sending me this photograph of his family's coal yard at St
Leonard's, taken on a cold winter's day.
"What you see is the offices of Hugh Leckie
and Sons, coal merchants, on a cold winter’s day in St Leonard’s Station.
The snow is on Arthur’s Seat and there is the remains of slush on the
cobblestones. I took this photo around 1965."
"My grandfather was the Hugh Leckie in the
firm’s name and my Dad, also Hugh Leckie (Jr.), and his brothers, Willie,
Jimmy and John were the sons. Their sister, Jenny Bonar, worked in the
office. It was a real family business. They had several coal lorries, a
“tipper” truck, and a couple of vans. With some of my cousins, I helped
with delivering coal on weekends and school holidays – some times it was
the 28lb packaged fuel which we delivered to shops to sell. Other times,
I’d carry the full 112lb bags."
"I remember some cold days, when the coal bags
would be so frozen that when you had emptied them, they still retained the
same shape and you would have to jump on them to flatten them for
stacking. Another memory was the first time I went out with my dad and
his crew. We got to the last delivery of the day and the men looked at me
and said, “Do you want to deliver the last one to this next stair?” Being
the boss’s son, I wanted to show that I could pull my weight, so I said,
“sure!”. They pointed to the stair and said, “It’s easy... just go up to
the last door you come to.” They weren’t kidding as it was a stair on the
High St, just down from John Knox’ house and I was exhausted when I got to
the top of what I discovered to be 5 flights to find that “easy last
It was enriching experiences like this that
helped make me decide to use my brain instead of brawn, go to University,
and get into electronics. However, I would not have missed those days in
the coal business for anything."
California, USA: July 26, 2007
Here is a another picture sent to me by Ron
Leckie. It's a photo of one of the company's lorries,
following an accident when it 'ran away' down the steep Arthur Street and
into Holyrood Park.
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who
also remembers the coal yard at St Loenard's, Edinburgh
"It is interesting reading Ron Leckie’s
unfolding story of the Leckie family’s coal business. My dad also had a
coal business at St Leonards for a while and knew some of the Leckie
I well remember regularly seeing the Leckie
lorry delivering coal down Dalkeith Road, around the junction with
"For a period of time in my teens I knew a
Brian Leckie – maybe one of Ron’s cousins? I think he lived in Dalkeith
Road. He wore a maroon school uniform – perhaps George Watson’s?
I remember meeting him, when we were about
school-leaving age, and was surprised to hear him say he had left school
and gone into the coal business. I lost touch with him after that and, I
suppose, like Ron, he moved on to other things.
There are certainly very few coal lorries
"My dad went into the haulage
business. I remember him going to East Lothian farms and loading two
hundred-weight (224 lbs) bags of barley to go to the breweries. I tried it
once or twice and quickly decided it was not for me."
Brian Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland: July
East End, London, England
Thank you to Eric Gold
"I like the Leckie's coal yard photo as it
brings memories back to me. My cousin had a wee hoose near there,
and Arthur's Seat in the background all covered in snow is great."
Eric Gold, East End, London: July 31, 2007
Thank you to Ron Leckie,
grandson of the founder of Hugh Leckie & Son Coal Merchants at St
Leonard's Edinburgh, for writing to tell me about a couple of his film
clips that can now be viewed
Hugh Leckie & Son
The Innocent Railway
"I found two of my old 8mm movies, had them
digitized then spent time cleaning them up as best I could, then that Jack
Gillom posted them on the Lost Edinburgh site on YouTube for me.
Here are links to them
- Hugh Leckie & Son
- Yard at St Leonard's, Edinburgh: delivering coal
in winter . (This was filmed in 1965.)
- The Innocent Railway
- from St Leonard's through Holyrood Park,
Ron Leckie, California, USA: May 24, 2015