Baird's Shoe Shop

South Bridge

Also referred to in the recollections 3 below as

Baird the Bootmaker



Stephen McMahon

Munich, Germany

Stephen McMahon wrote:

X-Ray Machine

"George Smith's stories of Patrick Thomson's brought back a few  memories.

The 'X-ray' machines were still in action in the mid- to late-1960s.  I  got my school shoes from a shop just along the road from where the old PT's store was - Baird's, I think, on South Bridge.

They had the old  machines where the young wearer could look down a central viewfinder,  while parent and the sales assistant would look down similar  viewfinders on the left and the right of the same machine to make sure  the shoes fitted properly: "He'll grow into them."

The worst part of  new shoes was, as George mentioned, going back to school on the first day of the new term, not because of the stamping action, more because of the maternal reaction you could expect when you got home at the end  of the day.  Not pleasant."

Stephen McMahon, Munich Germany,  October 6, 2009



Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Brian Gourlay who wrote:


"Stephen McMahon’s memory (1 above) is spot on. The shoe shop he mentions was indeed Baird’s, about 50 yards south of the High Street and the original Patrick Thomson’s store – on the left-hand side of the South Bridge, when heading south..

I was dragged there many times in my schooldays to get my sensible Clark's shoes  -  a bit like Henry Ford; you could wear any colour of shoes you liked at the Royal High as long as they were black.

Once you got the shoes, they had to be licked into shape – scoring the shiny leather soles with a fork so you didn’t slip, then hammering in some strategically placed studs (tackets), not to mention a steel tip.

The real treat came when the shoes needed soled and heeled. The Store (St Cuthberts) shoe repairer, at the beginning of West Richmond Street, used to put on quite thick, leather soles and heels then would also whack in a few rows of round studs in the sole with built-in, steel tips on the heel. My mother wouldn’t let me have the full steel, wrap-round ‘cuddy heel’.

School Clothes

"Upstairs from Baird’s, was Stark’s which sold school uniforms for many Edinburgh schools and general school wear.  I think Baird’s and Stark’s became the same firm at some point. 

Stark’s was where I, and I’m sure hundreds of other kids and teenagers, got rigged out for the start of the school year. That’s where I had little choice in being rigged out in my

-  ‘Beau Brummell’ blazer

‘Braemar’ long-sleeved, grey jersey and

-  ‘Kilspindie’ long grey socks with the school colour stripes on the bit folded over at the top.

In my time, long trousers were not allowed by the school until you got to the fourth year, or reached the dizzy height of 5’ 8”  – no matter if your legs got exceedingly hairy and ugly beforehand."

Brian Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  October 9, 2009




Margaret Williamson (née Hay)

Moline, Illinois, USA

Thank you to Margaret Williamson (née Hay) for writing again.

Margaret wrote:

On Leaving School ...

"When I left school, at the age of 15, my first job was for Baird the Bootmaker in Morningside Road, next to the train station.

They used a Pediscope there.  Baird's on South Bridge also had Pediscopes.  I see that a couple of other people have mentioned this."

Margaret Williamson (née Hay), Moline, Illinois, USA  April 2, 2014


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