Cowan's Yard

Albert Street, off Easter Road




Russell Young

Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland

In the 1990s, Cowans yard in Albert Street, close to its junction with Easter Road,  was being used by George Christie to store building materials.

I'm pleased to be able to record Russell Young's recollections below, describing the yard in earlier times, when it was used by Cowans.

Russell wrote:

Cowan's Yard

"My father was born in Easter Road right on the boundary with Leith and his mother (Jemima Young née Oman) still lived there.

As a small child during, and just after the war I could sit at the parlour window of  number 206 and watch the carters bring their horses and carts through the vennel into Cowan's yard directly opposite.

It fascinated me that once the horses were un-hitched and the draw chains hooked up to their tack they would amble across to the troughs for a long drink while the carter hitched up the shafts and blocked the wheels of the cart.

The horse would then wander up the ramps to the appropriate stable on the first floor leaving the carter to follow on.

Cowans must have been the 'Eddie Stobard's of their day because the horses were nearly always well turned out.

I lived out in Ormiston and, being a country yokel,  had only seen farm carts, so to me the variety of carts, pantechnichons and low loaders was amazing.

I had seen two horses drawing a plough or heavy wagon but three horses hitched up to a closed furniture van just overwhelmed me."

Russell Young, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland

Russell asked:


"Do you by any chance have a photo of Cowans yard?

It wasn't very photogenic but from 2 stairs up it was my television and I watched sometimes for hours. I could always hear when Hibs had scored a goal too!"

Russell Young, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland

1996 Photo

All I have is a relatively recent photo, taken in 1996, after Cowans had left the yard and George Christie had moved in.

In this photo, the yard was being used by George Christie to store building materials.  The markings on the walls show the positions of the old ramps to the stables.

Christie's Yard

   Edinburgh at Work  -  George Christie's Building Yard  -  Albert Street, off Easter Road ©

Now, it is several years since George Christie left the yard.  The old buildings surrounding the yard have been demolished and new apartments have been built on the site.

Peter Stubbs:  August 25, 2009




Mitchell Rankin

Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland

Thank you to Michael Rankin who wrote:


"My father, Willie Rankin, worked in Cowan's as a farrier.  We stayed at 167 Easter Road, I think that section of read was called Tait Street.  It was between Drum Terrace and Albion Road.

When they finished work, the workers would go to the Drum Tavern, which is now the Royal Nip.

I was taken down to the yard sometimes and put on one of the horses. I think they were Clydesdales. My father brought the horse brasses home to polish up most nights."

Mitchell Rankin, Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland:  August 25, 2009




Elizabeth Maritz

Thank you to Elizabeth Maritz who wrote:

Cowan's Stables

"I lived across the road from the Cowan's Stables during the 1930s and 1940s.  Carts were delivering goods around Edinburgh, I think on behalf of the Railways.

There must have been about 30 - 40 horses stabled there and it was quite a popular venue for parents to sit their young children on the wall at 5 p.m. to view the carters guiding their carts into orderly rows then taking their horses up the ramp to where they were stabled."

Elizabeth Maritz:  15 September 2013


Photos:  George Christie

Photos:  Edinburgh at Work