Calton Hill

The steep hill leading up from Leith Street to Regent Road


Calton Road

The hill leading down from Leith Street, under Waterloo Place
 and on to the west through the valley to Holyrood




Janette Burden (née Drinan)

London, England

Janette Burden wrote:

57 Calton Hill

"My father lived at 57 Calton Hill.  I have memories, as a toddler, of being on a balcony at this address, looking down into the eyrie below.

Every picture of Calton Hill that I have found on the site does not seem to have any tenements apart from Lower Calton but this does not fit into the memory I have.

I just wondered if anyone would have any memories that match mine."

Janette Burden (née Drinan), London, England:  emails 17 June, 2012




Peter Stubbs



After reading Janette Burden's questions above, I took some photos of the tenements and balcony at Calton Hill.  These may well match Janette's memories above.

However, I cannot find a number as high as No 57 in the Calton Hill ***, either now or recorded in old Post Office Directories.  I asked Janette if she could tell me anything more about No 57.

The house on the left-hand side of the street going up the hill (the side with the high tenements) have been given even numbers

-  The old houses, Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, at the foot of the hill, have been demolished

-  The houses, Nos 14, 16, 18, half way up the hill are at street level.

-  The tenement block high above the street comprises Nos 20. 22, 24, 26 and Rock House which has an address 'Calton Stairs'.  The entrance to the house is also from Calton Stairs, at the top of the lowest flight of stairs.

Rock House

    Rock House in the 1870s ©

Rock House was the studio of Hill & Adamson then several other early Edinburgh photographers.  Its address is Calton Stairs.  Its entrance is at the top of the first flight of stairs from Regent Road.


Please click on the thumbnail images below to see the photos of the tenements and balcony at Calton Hill that I took in June 2012.

 6 colour photos

    Houses at 20 to 26 Calton Hill, the steep street that links Leith Walk to Regent Road ©

7 black white and sepia photos

    Houses at 20 to 26 Calton Hill, the steep street that links Leith Walk to Regent Road ©


Peter Stubbs:  June 29, 2012

***   UPDATE:  The street where Janette lived was, in fact Calton Road, and not Calton Hill.  See Recollections 4 below




Janette Burden (née Drinan)

London, England

Janette replied:

House Numbers

"I did not get 'No.57' *** from the house itself.

I found it written by my Nan or my Dad on the back of a photo of me,  taken around 1950 or 1951.

In this photo, I'm sitting on my Nan's draining board at the sink, probably on top of the coal bunker."

Janette Burden (née Drinan), London, England:  emails 21 June, 2012

***   UPDATE:  The street where Janette lived was, in fact Calton Road, and not Calton Hill.  See Recollections 4 below




Janette Burden (née Drinan)

London, England

Thank you to Janette Burden for writing again.

Janette wrote:

Calton Road

"This is Just to let you know, I have spoken with my cousin and I have led you well and truly up the garden path.  The correct address where we lived was in fact 57 Calton Road and not Hill! Sorry about that.

These tenements in Calton Road have been demolished but my cousin who is younger than me, says his dad took him up to the site and said his dad remembers seeing a picture of the tenements in the newspaper with a view of the landing (like my memory) and their dog was on the landing.

So there is a picture out there somewhere   :) "

Janette Burden (née Drinan), London, England:  8 July, 2012




Janette Burden (née Drinan)

London, England

Janette Burden has written again, telling me that she is still looking for an old photo showing her Nan's tenement flat at 57 Calton Road.


Do you know of any such photo, or do you know anything about this building?  If so, please email me then I'll pass on Janette's email address to you so that you will be able to send a message direct to her.  I'm sure she would appreciate that.

Janette wrote:

57 Calton Road

"I'm searching for my past, and looking for a photo of my Nan's tenement.  It was at 57 Calton Road but it is no longer there.

My Dad has passed on now, but he always told wonderful stories of his childhood up there."

Balcony and Railings

"One of my earliest memories is of when I was two years old, in 1952, and on the balcony at the back of the building with my head peering through a space in railings where one of the railings was missing.  I was looking down to what I thought was a very long drop.

I have a lasting memory of my Mum shouting to my Dad:

 "Quick, get her.  She's going to fall through!"

This has left me with a fear of heights."

History of the Buildings

"There may be someone out there who took photos of the buildings back then, or who can tell me more about these buildings.   I'd just like to see what the buildings looked like and to discover when they were built and when they were taken down.

My Nan moved to Craigmillar around 1959 or 1960, when I would have been about nine or ten years old.  Might that have been because the buildings were to be demolished then?"

Janette Burden (née Drinan), London, England:  22 + 23 November 2013




Sheila Downes (née Sutherland)

Essex, England

I'm pleased to say that, about 18 months after Janette Burden first asked about Calton Road in Recollections 1 above, I now have a reply for her from another former resident of Calton Road.

Sheila Downes wrote:

37 Calton Road

"I'm responding to Janette's enquiries about Calton Road..  I lived at No.37 Calton Road until the age of about 6 and went to Milton House primary school.

We lived in the tenement block right next to the railway bridge. When the trains went by, the buildings used to shake.

Play on the Rocks

"As a child, we played on the rocks at the back of the houses, climbing up almost to the top and on to the road that used to look over to the old Parliament House

We played hooses (houses) with our dolls in crevices on the rocks, until we heard the roars of our mums to 'get down from there before you kill yerself'."

Our Home

"The buildings were very old and were falling down.   I remember one very bad winter when it was freezing and we were all in one room because the pipes had burst.

 I remember a man coming down to take photos of the state that the houses were in. (I think he might have been from the Sunday Post.)  A picture was published of myself and my two brothers in this big bed with old blankets and coats on the bed to keep us warm."

The Old Bus Garage

"The old bus garage was opposite our stair.  The drivers would practice their bagpipes at the back of the garage and my friend and I would try to do the highland fling and lark around to their tunes."


"The whole street was quite run-down and it wasn't long after that bad winter that we were rehoused. People were moved, one block at a time from most of the streets around us.   We moved to Prestonfield Crescent."

Sheila Downes (née Sheila Sutherland), Essex, England:  January 10, 2013


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