The Pleasance

Waste ground behind the Pleasance - 1959

Dumbiedykes Survey Photograph - 1959  -  Waste ground behind The Pleasance

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services                                             Neg. E932D




Bob Cockburn

Thank you to Bob Cockburn for sending writing about this photo, based on his memories from the time when he attended James (Jimmy) Clark School and used to go to his granny's for my dinner, around 1940.

Bob wrote:

behind The Pleasance

Drying Green on the Roof

"This picture  looks like the tenement where my Granny stayed.

It had a flat roof which was the drying green, covered in lush grass and had a large water tank in the centre which you can just see in the photo.

The Windows

"She stayed in the top flat to the left of the photo.  The big window was the living room, complete with black grate and bed recess.  The small window was the scullery with a black cast iron sink."

Joiners and Bakers

"The basement was occupied by a joiner/cabinetmaker.

The building to the right on the ground floor was Young Brothers' bakery."

Bob Cockburn:  November 7, 2006

The large photograph above was one of several dozen taken in 1959 by Adam H Malcolm in the Dumbiedykes area of Edinburgh.  These photographs were taken shortly before the houses were demolished.  Adam H Malcolm donated these photographs to the Edinburgh City Libraries in the 1960s and they can now be found in the Library's Edinburgh Room Collection.




Eric Gold

East London

On reading the comments above, Eric Gold wrote:

behind The Pleasance

'The Backie'

  Dumbiedykes Survey Photograph - 1959  -  Waste ground behind the Pleasance

"The tenements in the background in the photo above are in the Pleasance.  The land in front is the Backie (backgreen) between Arthur Street and the Scottie.   The backgreen stretches from the top of the brae near the Pleasance to Prospect Place. *

* In fact, Bill Cockburn (below) describes these backgreens as being one street further to the south.

Before I was born, 58 years ago, part of West Arthur place was knocked down as was Prospect Place and they formed waste grounds for us to play

Edinburgh and Leith map, 1925  -  The area around Arthur Street, Dumbiedykes

  For permission to reproduce please contact

After my sister got married in 1956, she lived in a middle flat, at 33 Arthur Street, with a chip shop at the foot of the stair, above East Arthur Place.  Her home was on the right-hand side of the street, looking up the brae from the police box and the wee sweetie shop.

All at number 33 shared the same backie as so did the rats (ha ha ha ha).  They were not shy either.  I played as a kid  in the backie.  We would see the rats and we shout at them to go away but they more or less said it was our home too (ha ha ha) until my cat Toodles appeared with his mates.

I bet you that was her laundry in the photo as she at the time had 3 young children.  I remember her husband bought a TV and my mum and dad and I would watch the TV  there often until we had a TV."

Eric Gold: East London, November 10, 2006




Bill Cockburn

Comely Bank, Edinburgh

Bill Cockburn, Comely Bank, Edinburgh added:

behind The Pleasance

120, The Pleasance

"This picture shows the rear of The Pleasance. The  large tenement at the centre of the picture is No. 120 The Pleasance.

  Dumbiedykes Survey Photograph - 1959  -  Waste ground behind the Pleasance

Charles Linton

"The row of windows at the base of the tenement is the workshop of Charles Linton Joiners & Cabinetmakers.  His son James was a friend of mine. James kept pet rabbits on the roof."

Young Brothers

"The building to the right of this is Young Brothers Oakfield Bakery. The backgreens in the foreground are not as Eric Gold suggests, Arthur Street.  They are, in fact, the backgreens of the tenements in Salisbury Street, and stretched right down to the Dumbiedykes."

Access to the Backgreens

"There was no access originally to these backgreens from West, Mid, or East Arthur Place, which were in effect dead end streets. Eventually the walls that separated these streets from the Salisbury Street backgreens fell into disrepair and collapsed, no doubt helped by us youngsters.

There are three backgreens in the picture. They were accessed through back stairs in Nos. 2, 5 and 7 Salisbury Street. These backgreens were my playground for a number of years, and many a happy hour I spent there.

One of my best friends, Alan Duff, lived in No. 5, which is the backgreen with the bigger amount of washing hanging out."

Bill Cockburn, Comely Bank, Edinburgh:  May 6 + 7, 2007




Bill Cockburn

Comely Bank, Edinburgh

The Front of the Buildings

Bill Cockburn (above), has also sent his recollections of the the front of these buildings, facing on the Pleasance.   Please click the thumbnail image below to read his recollections:

  Photographs of Dumbiedykes around 1961-63  -   Pleasance  -  Young Brothers, bakers





Eric Gold

East London

 Eric Gold responded:

I agree with Bill

"Bill Cockburn is definitely right about the backies in the photo.  Do give Bill my thanks for correcting the matter.

I made a mistake thinking it was of Prospect Street.  What a slip up I made, as my big brothers and aunts hoose looked straight in to the backies.

I remember there was a wee stair on the left so you could get in to Salisbury street."

Eric Gold: East London, May 8, 2007

 Eric Gold added:

Bakery and Whisky Bond

"I remember I used to climb the big wall in East Arthur Place to get to my brothers' house in Salisbury Street.

I can still smell the beautiful bread getting baked in Young Brothers' bakery and in Stewart's whisky bond were my sister worked."

Eric Gold: East London, May 9, 2007




Dave Elgin

Dundee, Tayside, Scotland

 Thank you to Dave Elgin who wrote:

Pleasance Boys' Club

Seeing the photo of the University Buildings

Edinburgh University Buildings on the eastern side of the Pleasance  -  December 2007

 reminded me that about 50 years ago the buildings on the left of the photo were home to the Pleasance Boys Club.

This was a club run by 3 gentlemen:

-   Dr. Loudon

-   Mr. Pinkerton

-   Mr. Reid.

They took about 50 boys, living around the area, on Friday nights for a few hours and played table tennis, football and other sports in the large gymnasium hall.

Through the archway and up the stairs at the back led you to the hall where the Pleasance basketball team played their home matches. I recall seeing them many times playing against such teams as Kirknewton Comets and the Hornets.  The Pleasance team were not that good and rarely won but it was good to watch.

Once a year a camp was organised and this took the club to Pease Bay, Cockburnspath, just outside Dunbar where you spent the week camping.

The club was a real bonus in these days because many of us had no television and having a place like the club to go to kept a lot of boys off the streets."

Dave Elgin, Dundee, Tayside, Scotland:  November 27 + December 12, 2008

Please click on the link below for more recollections

The Pleasance  -  More Recollections



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