Recollections  -  Edinburgh Old Town

East Preston Street




Jim Vandepeear
York, Yorkshire, England

Sweeping Chimneys

- On the Roof

-  Finding the Fireplace

-  In the House

-  Problems


Jim Vandepeear
York, Yorkshire, England

1. Edinburgh

-  Move to Edinburgh

-  Return Visits

-  Allotments

2. Our District

- East Preston Street

-  Family

-  No 32

-  Other Stairs

-  Back Greens

-  Road Works

-  Old Reekie

-  St Leonard's District

3. Shops and Neighbours

- Shops

-  Neighbours

-  Chimney Fire

4. School

- Preston Street School

-  Starting School

-  Teachers

-  Back to School

-  Gas Masks

-  Good Manners

-  Around the School

5. Wartime

-  Blackout

-  Evacuation

-  Armadale

-  Visits

-  Home from Armadale

-  Air Raid Shelters

-  Trams

-  Prisoners of War

-  Recycling

-  Dad

-  Land Army

6. Our Home

-  Kitchen

-  Coal Deliveries

-  Clothes

-  Housework

-  The Parlour

-  Spring Clean

-  Doors and Windows

-  Lighting

-  Heating

-  Oven Accident

-  Modern Life

7. Meals

-  Wartime Food

-  Sunday Meals

-  Toast

-  Stovies

-  School Dinners

-  Toffee Apples

-  Other Food

8. Play

- Sundays

-  Football

-  Games

-  Play in the Street

-  Trip to the Country

-  Trip to the Sea

-  Holyrood Park

-  Winter

-  Summer Evenings

9. Entertainment

-  Wireless

-  Cinema

-  Library

-  Dancing

-  Church

-  Poor-Oot

10. Gran

- Memories

-  Rations


Gus Coutts
Duddingston, Edinburgh

-  Thanks

-  Buses


Margaret Goodchild
Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England

-  Thanks

-  Shops


Ron Dingwall
Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland

-  Shops

-  Home

-  School

-  Air Raid Shelters




Jim Vandepeear

York, Yorkshire, England

Thank you for these recollections sent to me by Jim Vandepeear.  Jim has now lived in York for over  50 years, but used to live with his grandmother in East Preston Street, Edinburgh.

Jim wrote:

Sweeping Chimneys

"There were 32 chimneys to the tenement.  Each  stack had 12 chimney pots.  All  the chimneys merged as they went upwards in the building. 

On the Roof

"The chimney sweeps would divide, one to the house and fireplace, the other up a ladder at the top of the stairway, a drop of about 80feet below him.  Then a hatch and perilous climb up the sloping tiles to the chimneys.

The sweep on the roof had a long rope, with heavy  weights, about 4 inches in diameter near the end, and a large stiff circular brush attached above the weights.   The weighted rope, with brush, was dropped down the chimney."

Finding the Fireplace

"To get brush and weight from chimney to the desired fireplace:

- The roof man bellows down the flue, a long ‘WOOO,ooo,ooo!’  

- The fireplace man replies ‘,aaa!’.

- Roof man jiggles the rope and weights at each junction in the flue, until the fireplace man calls  ‘WOOO,ooo,ooo!’.

‘WOOO,ooo,ooo!’ the right signal, and the roof man knows the brush is at the right fireplace.  Fireplace man knows if brush has the correct flue by the amount of soot and debris falling where he is."

In the House

"The fireplace was prepared by draping a heavy cloth over and around, weighted into place, to allow the soot to settle, hopefully, behind the cloth.  The room cleared of nearly all furniture beforehand.

Long before the chimney is pronounced clean,  the room and the sweep have inch deep coats of soot.  When the cloth was removed from the fireplace, the sweep shovelled  the soot into blackened sacks and carried them away. 

The fire would be re-lit and Gran would spend the rest of the day cleaning up."


"And all this Woo-ing and Waa-ing is inaccurate.   A neighbour in the tenement, or in the adjoining tenement, having their chimney swept could cause soot and debris to come down into our fireplace or even into Gran’s cooking pots.

Sweeps'  weights were  heavy. Once, several bricks, plus soot, arrived in our kitchen fireplace when the sweeps were in the adjoining tenement, interrupting our meal."

Jim Vandepeear, York, Yorkshire, England:  December 10, 2006




Jim Vandepeear

York, Yorkshire, England

Thank you to Jim who wrote again with lots of memories of growing up in Edinburgh during and after World War 2.

Jim says that if someone reads his memories and gets an idea of domestic 'bliss' during the war, he will be happy.

I'm sure Jim's recollections will bring back memories to many people who grew up in Edinburgh at that time.

Jim wrote:



Move to Edinburgh

"When I was a few months old, I was sent with my sister, Betty,  to live with my grandmother in Edinburgh, following my parents' divorce.  Betty was ten years older than me.

My other sister Edythe remained in England with my mother.  She was not to be mentioned, else the world would come to an end.  My Mother was to remain a mystery for twenty years.

Betty and I had great admiration for 'Gran', and despite all the family upset, we both felt at home in Edinburgh We lived at 32, East Preston Street, next-door but one to the school."

Preston Street School ©

Return Visits

I've not lived in Edinburgh since 1954, but my wife and I return to visit the city as often as we can.  We try to visit Duddingston Kirk, where we  were married, and  to get to The Sheep Heid, in passing.


Do you know if there were allotments in the King's Park during the war?  I should say Holyrood Park. I'm sure I remember some in the area of the Echo Rock.

Jim Vandepeear, York, Yorkshire, England:  March 31, 2010

Yes there were allotments in Holyrood Park.  They can be seen in the background of these two photos, taken in 1950.

Alex Jackson in Holyrood Park, 1950s - Allotments in the background ©    Alex Jackson family in Holyrood Park, 1950s - Allotments in the background ©

Peter Stubbs: April 3, 2010


Our District

East Preston Street

"Life began for me at East Preston Street.  It was wide, cobbled street with brewery carts dripping uphill to Usher’s Brewery.

 There were malty smells drifting round the street and up to Nelson’s Printing Works.

I moved into my Gran's home at 32 East Preston Street with my sister, Betty, when I was a few months old.  My Aunt Sara also lived there."


"Betty attended  James Clarke School, and my Aunt Sara was mysteriously working somewhere, maybe St Cuthbert’s Co-op.

I remember Gran in her wrap-round pinny and mob cap, dust cap, misshapen slippers and dark dress, with her grey hair tied back in a ‘bun’ like the old queen.

Gran was always working at something.  She had a break at teatime to read the Evening News, starting with the deaths column.

The year was 1939.  Gran, Betty, Aunt Sarah and I were living in the flat.  It was a time of unspoken family happenings.  There was a hint of  troubles.  Gran complained of things, such as Danish butter, not being in the shops."

No 32

"At 32 East Preston Street, we had stone stairs with iron railings and straight stairways that led to eight homes, set two by two on each landing.  The half-landings had huge windows looking over the back green.

Every few weeks, a card on a string was hung on the outside door knob, with the message:

 ‘It is your turn to clean the stairs.’

So, Gran set off, the next day, to wash the stairs, top to bottom, and at the street entrance, the last step was pipe-clayed to give a white step into No 32’s green-painted passageway."

Other Stairs

"Other stairs in and around Preston Street were windowless, with spiral steps and dark to landings.  The hand-rails seemed low as you climbed.  You didn't go up at the handrail side, you slid along the wall.

In the dark, mothers used to bounce their prams and babies, step by step, down each curving flight and along the long landing, then twist and lever again, and bounce onward down to the bottom to escape the spiralled blackness into the daylight."

Back Greens

"Our tenement had black stonework facing the street, and black stonework with drainpipes around the back, facing on to tired back greens.  The back greens were within a huge rectangle of walls.  They were grassed tenement gardens, either dark and damp or parched as they got the sun."

Road Works

"East Preston Street was on the main road to Jedburgh, A68.    It had granite setts, worn and uneven.

Later, these setts had to be re-faced. For weeks, men dug up the setts and piled them at one side.  Then they sat on benches or piles of setts and patiently chipping each sett with a chisel to give it a new surface for horses feet to grip.  Motors were rare

At night, a night watchman came with a tarpaulin tent and coke brazier.  He brought a blackened kettle to sit on the brazier. Children came to keep him company until their bedtime.  They  listened to his tales of the other war, and France.

The roadway was then piled with sand and gravel, raked and tamped down to make a bed for the setts.  Each sett was replaced by hand then held in place by tar. The tram lines stood proud of the road and looked like a proper railway.

There was a tar boiler by the pavement, and tarry buckets like watering cans hung from near the furnace door.  The tar was poured,bucket by bucket, between the setts.

It took weeks to renew the setts in Preston Street. Later, the setts were re-faced in West Preston Street, down the hill, then in the main road, Clerk Street.

Auld Reekie

"All of Edinburgh was coated with soot and coal dust.  Centuries of coal fires clogged chimneys. The air was heavy with dirt. Breathing covered teeth with grit.  Even the snot in your nose was black.

Gran pointed out descending black mucus. ‘Ye’ve got a ‘black Jock'!’  All children got Black Jocks. Those with handkerchiefs got them stained black with Edinburgh filth.

Edinburgh well named, Auld Reekie. Smoke and reek have given every building a corrosive covering of soot.  If you sat on a wall or window ledge, you got a black bottom.  Windows were filthy within a day of being cleaned.  Snow becomes black within hours. It was a black and dingy city, saved only by acres of green space within the boundary."

St Leonard's District

"I remember:

-  horse-drawn drays, with barrels nudging each other in timpani.

Usher’s railway depot, with lines running off through Holyrood Park, heading for Duddingston.

the blackened tenements of East Preston Street with grim entrances to the street.

brass bell pulls, four each side of the doorways, with bells linked by pulleys and wires to give each individual home its own clappered bell on a spring.  The bells might announce strangers or parcel deliveries."

-  a tram accident  when Charlie, who lived in Montague Street, fell in front of a tram in Nicolson street once.  The cowcatcher at the front of the tram dropped down and Charlie was tucked up safely under the driver's platform.  He was removed, crying, by the driver, and clipped on the ear for his pains.  Road safety by experience!"


Shops and Neighbours


"Stonehouse’s Grocers was on the corner of St Leonards. Outside it, on the pavement, were greens and sacks of potatoes.  There were racks of boxed biscuits to be examined
carefully by all the local dogs.  Inside, Mr Stonehouse would sell you a pennyworth of broken biscuits, crumbs really but welcome food.

In the Meadows, there were allotments. 'Dig for Victory'. We did not know anyone who was victoriously digging.

The Co-op at the top of West Preston Street provided all our greens  -  sad cabbage or leeks, sometimes sprouts.

Once, Gran said, ‘Go to the Stores and get a fourpit of tatties’ Down the street I went, returning with a brown paper bag which burst open just as I got to Oxford Street.  Potatoes rolled across the street and down the gutter.  I got home with potatoes filling each pocket, clutching the rest in my hands.

Gran slapped me. ‘Why didn’t you take a bag?’. Gran’s shopping bag is big and has leather handles. If I hold the handles, the bag trails along the ground.

Hornig's Pork Butchers was in Clerk Street.  Gran said that in the first war, people had smashed the windows of German butchers.  Was Hornig a German then?  Not now. And if there was a first war, and there’s one now, do wars come

Laidig’s Butchers was down St Leonards, past Bernard Terrace, across the road from the railways.

Marciano’s Chip Shop was the place to go in the evening.  We also went down West Preston to a chip shop in Causewayside.  We only bought chips.  Fish was too expensive for us, but Gran sometimes had some, and I get a taste of cod.

Near the Deaconess Hospital, there was a corner shop that sold a plate of peas and vinegar for a ha’penny. These were eaten from their plate with a spoon in the shop doorway,  It was another small victory over rationing.

The accumulator charging shop was near Marciano's. This was where Gran made me take the accumulator for the wireless to be recharged. It was a heavy glass battery that I carried down to the shop, then I brought another one back.

Alex’s mother had an old pram to put their accumulator on.  On a lucky day, their battery was changed the same day as ours. Twin battery babies in a pram were raced down to the shop.

A tailor’s shop was across from there, on the curved corner of Parkside StreetGran took me there to have new trousers made up from Aunt Sarah’s old coat.  We collected the trousers days later.  The stiff cloth made formidable trousers.  They had tight button for small fingers to manipulateuntil they were worn in.  Gran got them too big, of course, so I could grow into them."


"Sandy Coutts, son of Alexander Coutts, coal merchant, lived in a ground floor flat which had a narrow garden into Oxford Street and Preston Street.  When free of coal merchanting, he grew fuchsias which hung over into the street.

Further downhill was the home of Dr Goldberg, GP, a busy man.  He could be seen going to the Synagogue with his two strange sisters, middle-aged ladies in dull clutch coats, pointed shoes and cloche hats. 20 years out of fashion.  Arm in arm they wandered the streets.

Amid the cat calls of small children, the Goldberg sisters glided past in their own world. Children did not exist for them.

My friends lived in Oxford Street:

Stanley Fletcher, whose dad has a shop in Clerk Street selling ladies' nightwear.

Kathie Easson, Robert, Cathie, Alex and George, who was from London, escaping the blitz with his younger sister.

They were the main regiment, 'Relieve-Oh'. 

We played endlessly, racing around the streets for hours, kick the can, tig and forays to the swings at The Meadows, a swing park for the hardiest.   It had steel chains on oaken swings, steel parallel bars set on a concrete base and steel see-saws on concrete.  Each device was set up to slay children, but they never did."

Chimney Fire

"One day, in Oxford Street, we saw clouds of black smoke billowing from the rooftops.  We ran from Lutton Place to see a fire.  No, not a fire, a lummy.  We all ran around the street, shouting ‘A lummy, a lummy’.

A tenement chimney had caught fire. Years of cooking gave a good fat lining to a chimney.   Flames roared from the chimney pot high into the air.  Already the dingy gardens in the area had a new layer of filth.  Did a fire engine come?  I can’t remember one."



Preston Street School

"Preston Street School, with its rich sandstone, was near our home in East Preston Street.

Preston Street School ©

The school had tall windows, statues, enigmatic gargoyles and iron railings to keep the children safely away from everyday life.  The building was set in concrete playgrounds with high stone walls.

A green cupola surmounted all.  It was able to tell which way the wind was blowing.

Pupils had to stay within stone and concrete and not escape over walls or railings."

Starting School

"Gran took me to meet Miss Boyd, the tweed-clad, manly head-teacher.  She had a cigarette holder, dark horn-rimmed glasses and brown leather, brogue shoes with tassled flapping tongues and thick soles.  Her grim face was happily not seen too often.

Then I went safely to Miss Clarke for lessons and happy first weeks at school.  I had new friends and long days to play, falls on stone pavements, skinned knees and elbows.

Gran scrubbed the house,  the tenement stairs, or me, without particular preference.   There were bread and jam pieces on demand.  Happy 1939."


"My first teacher was Miss Clarke.  She was kind to small boys and girls, new from home.  She understood the shy mumblings of all her class.  Slim and wearing a blue dress, she led us by slate, pencils, chalk and coloured paper towards literacy.

Girls to her right, boys to her left, were silently obedient.  There was milk and playtime, morning and afternoon."

Back to School

"When I got back to Edinburgh in 1940, after having been evacuated to Armadale, in 1940,I returned to Preston Street school.

I found that Miss Clarke was gone, now a WREN, we were told.  Other teachers came and went,  There were no men teachers. There are no young teachers.

In the school playground there were new brick blast shelters, Ttwo for boys and one for girls. They were useless, of course, but we did not know then.

The iron railings had been removed, except between the girls' and boys' playgrounds.  You couldn't have boys and girls within the same cage!  But we could jump over the low wall to escape into the street if we wanted.

At the corner of one blast shelter, between it and the stone wall keeping the girls out, there was a ‘salvage dump for paper and for aluminium and iron pots.  All were collected by children to be used 'to make guns and Spitfires to kill Germans'.  Who were these Germans?"

Gas Masks

"Gas masks were only used on tests.  Visors steamed up and there were rude noises from the rubber face masks.

The policeman came to the classroom to test each and every mask.  This meant no lessons for an hour or more."

Good Manners

"We were all obedient children then. We had school lessons on Good Manners.

Remove your cap when an adult speaks to you.

 Only speak when spoken to.

Always do what an adult says.

Carry shopping for anyone who asks.

Go errands for neighbours.

Always behave.

-  No football in the street.

-  Don’t annoy the neighbours.

-  Never get noticed by a policeman.

But we had fun.  Adults were always about to sort problems, clean cut knees and mend toys.

Each mother was everyone’s mother. There were not too many fathers around. Most were away at the war."

Around the School

"Next to the school was Bill Watters’ empire, a sweet shop and dairy.  There were groceries, cigarettes, bread and morning rolls, hot and dusted with flour, delivered to your door at 8 o’clock, to be eaten as quickly as you could.

Later, outside the shop, a man-sized dummy ice cream cornet stood at the pavement edge. But there was no ice cream to be had.

Across the road from school was the cemetery with more stone walls, higher than a man and tall iron gates, always locked.  Beyond them was the grim watch tower in grey stone, with oak doors and  dark window slits to stealthily observe any Burke or Hare who might steal one of the street’s dead."




"In 1939, blackout curtains hung at each window.  Shops had window displays of bargain blackout curtain material, but this quickly sold out.

The wooden shutters at the windows were closed each night, and window panes were patterned with paper tapes, corner to corner and up and down.

‘What’s that for, Gran?It's in case the Germans come. Zeppelins will be here any day Gran said.    Aunt Sarah, posh and clever, said they would not.  Betty said, 'Be quiet and go to sleep."


"One day, I dressed for school in my winter coat, but I didn’t need it that dayGran had given me a small case with clothes in and a teacher,  not Miss Clarke, tied a label to me.  A gas mask in a box and a tin mug were hung  around my neck.

Girls, boys and teachers marched down Preston Street. Gran and other grown-ups watched us go by.  Gran didn’t wave.  Aunt Sara was at work.  Betty was at work.

A fleet of tramcars at Clerk Street took us on board and rattled and swayed down to Newington railway station where a train swallowed up all of our school."


"Where were we going?  To Armadale, a coal mining village, to be safe from bombs. At Armadale, we had a long wait on a station platform.  I was hungry, and I wanted to pee, but no one noticed.

I was led by the hand to a large lady who had three boys with her. ‘Come with me.’  'Where?‘You’ll stay with us’, she said.  I wanted Gran, but that was not allowed.  I was led away, firmly gripped. ‘You stay with us’.

But what of Armadale?  My memories have shut down.  Was it really so cold?  Why was I away from Gran?

I remember:

a swing park where I could run.

-  being chased by the three boys I was living with.

-  sharing a bed with all of them."


"I have no memory of visits from Preston Street when I was at Armadale.  It was a cold winter.  Always cold, I remember.

Betty tells me that Gran visited, by arrangement, and that I was warmly dressed and clean.  Gran later sent Betty, unannounced. Betty tells me that I was in cotton shorts and a vest, no shoes, sitting on a cold step of a miner’s cottage.

It was a cold day and I was not allowed indoors,  she says. Betty got my belongings together and took me home. It was her own decision.

We came back home on the SMT bus, the green ones that we used to see going up Preston Street, with names of strange places on the front, Dalkeith, Pathhead, Roslin.  They were places you could go to and come back from in a day?

After I was brought back from Armadale, other evacuees came back to Edinburgh in ones and twos."

Home from Armadale

"When I arrived home, Gran was outraged at the filthy state of me.  All the clothes from Armadale were unceremoniously dumped in the dustbin.

I was given a bath and treatment for removal of  fleas and other vermin. Gran was cheerfully cracking ‘nits’ on to a newspaper as she combed me with her fine nit comb.

I remember the blacked-out rooms and the wireless on for every news broadcast. ‘Hush, while we listen’."

I had to sleep with Gran Betty was in her single bed in the same bedroom.  Aunt Sarah had a bedroom of her own. She had  cosmetics and strange cigarettes, Balkan Sobranie, Black Cat and Craven A, for her throat’s sake.  Her bedroom had a cloying smell of what?  cosmetics?  medicine?  illness?

Aunt Sarah was coughing and running to her room, leaving her ‘Friar’s Balsam’ on the table.  Tuberculosis was the scourge of our family.  Aunt Sarah went to a sanatorium for a while, and we had weeks with Gran to ourselves, free from Aunt Sarah’s disapproving 'Mother!', and Gran’s silent resentment of her daughter.

Betty was freed from the chore of being Aunt Sarah’s hairdresser each Saturday."

Air Raid Shelters

"They built huge air raid shelters in the back greens, by hand.  Wheelbarrows trundled through the tenements, from street door to back green, for weeks.  The shelters had a tall entrance in a triangle of concrete

Inside, underground, there were two damp chambers with bunks and bunks and bunks.  The wood of the bunks was moist and weeping.  The floors were puddled with seeping water.

There were Electric lights in steel cages.   Gran refused to go there, and no-one went into them (except us when we broke the locks).

The sirens went, and we stayed where we were.  The Germans never spotted us at Preston Street."


"The Blackout required torches of all shapes and sizes. Torches were too scarce for children. Adults bemoaned the search for number eight batteries. Darkened trams rumbled on darkened tracks along the streets.

There was a slit in the shatterproof netting on the tram windows at eye-level, but not a child’s eye- level.  We had to ask the conductor where we were, then take care getting across to the pavement!

Cars could creep between the trams and pavement.  Cars had whitened mudguards and running boards so they could be seen in the dark.  But you couldn’t always see them.

Cars had headlights reduced to slits in black paper masking.  So the drivers couldn't see you.  Gran said, ‘Stay at homeand do your homework’."

Prisoners of War

"Near the end of the war, Italian prisoners wandered the streets, They had Army uniforms with coloured patches on the back.  No guards were with them.  They drifted aimlessly around Edinburgh."


"Wartime was the best time for recycling.  Modern ‘Greens’ would love it.  Nothing was wasted:

Paper bags carefully flattened and folded for re-use.

-  String was saved in jars. No one would cut string on a parcel.

Sealing wax that had been dropped on the knots would be picked off to allow the string to be rolled up.

Old clothes were re-tailored into new clothes. All mothers and aunts were expert at dress making and repairs.

Old woollens had their hems unpicked, and the wool was pulled out in long wrinkled lengths, side to side, like a typewriter carriage.  The wool was wound round a hand into a ball for re-use.

Aunt Sara was an expert knitter.  Old wool made new socks and sweaters.  Aunt Sara could be seen in her fireside chair with balls of coloured wool in jam jars round her feet, expertly knitting ‘Fair Isle’ pattern pullovers of amazing complexity."


"I could not remember my Dad too well, but when I saw him I was happy.  What do I remember about him?  Smoking, shiny shoes and Brylcreemed hair but not much of itHe spoke to Gran and sometimes at me, but not without his Capstan or Players or Gold Flake cigarette.

On Sundays we would go for a walk, Dad and I.  He marched, in his  shined shoes making a fine tapping with their steel heel tips. Hand in hand. Into the park, not to play.

'Keep walking', beneath Samson’s Ribs.'  ‘Will they fall?’

'Keep walking.'  My feet were in new shoes bought by Gran, new narrow shoes on not-too-narrow feet.  We went past the Windy Goule and Duddingston Kirk with its ‘jougs’, and the mounting stones. I didn't know then that I would later get married there!

Past the loch, still full of fish then, and back on the roads past the church with it’s hunched shoulders, all the way to Portobello.  Dad marched well, smoke trailing from the Players in his yellow fingers.

‘Come on!’  My hand was firmly pulled. On to the Promenade. Play on the beach?  Stop here?  No!  Onward to Joppa.  Then, at last, a stop.  A café.  An ice cream.  A rest.  ‘Can we go back on the tramcar?’

About turn, and the long trail back to Preston Street.  Dad was going away the next day. Until the next time, months away.

 Would we walk to Joppa again?  No doubt about it. ‘Walking is good for you’."

Land Army

"Betty joined the Land Army, then came home to visit us in her green sweater, khaki jacket, khaki corduroy knee breeches and brown shoes as shiny as Dad’s.

On Sundays, she took me for long walks around Edinburgh. She marched as Dad did.  I took her hand and tried to keep up.

Her shiny shoes had steel heel tips.  We progressed to the 'tap, tap' of her heels, with, as descant, the 'rip, rip' noise of corduroy breeched legs passing each other at speed. She worked at Gifford

Her friend, Andrew, had a motor bike. He brought us vegetables when he came to call.  I liked Andrew.  He gave me a pillion ride round the park, but Betty tired of him, so no more vegetables."


Our Home


"My home at No 32 had a dark kitchen at a right-angled junction of two tenements.  It faced north and overlooked the sun-starved back green, always damp, never warm. There were two tired sycamores against the low stone wall.

Gran’s sink at the window smelt of fish from cod heads she boiled to feed the big grey tabby cat, Tim, which spent its days sitting on the top of the open sash window frame, dangerously reaching out a paw for sparrows.

I remember one day when Gran was cleaning cods' heads by the kitchen sink with Tim prowling around her ankles, waiting for lunch.  Gran, exasperated, back-heeled Tim, with her regular curse at himTim, whirled, claws skating on the polished linoleum, and crashed into the far wall.  He hesitated for an instant, then returned to patrol Gran’s legs until his cod’s head was delivered.

Gran washed every pot, pan and plate from any meal using one kettleful of hot water.  She said ‘Ye ha’e tae eat a peck o' dirt afore ye die.’

Soap ration was invariably Windsor soap, rock hard and abrasive.  Aunt Sara had her own selection of toiletries, safe in her room, not to be used by anyone else."

Coal Deliveries

"We had a coal fire in the kitchen and a huge chest in the hall, behind the flat's front door, to store the coal.  The coal was delivered in one-hundredweight sacks, stacked neatly, row on row, on a horse cart.

Coal was rationed, to make it last!  The coalman brought it up the flight of steps to our flat on the first floor in two trips, one bag at a time.

For those on the top floor, there were four more flights of stairs for the coalman to climb.  He wore a black jacket, shapeless blackened cap sliding down to cushion his neck from the coarse sack, and boots just barely held together.  Their steel studs clattered on the stairs.

The coalman crashed Gran's front door aside with his sack and fell into the flat, tipping the coal sideways into the chest. The sack was carefully shaken to empty all the dross into the chest and all the dust into the air.

Then he folded the sack neatly, took coins from Gran, and coughed his way back down, to add his sack to the pile of folded sacks which made his seat on the cart beside his driver, behind the Clydesdale, it’s cropped tail clear of the harness and its nose bag slung behind, on the cart."


"All our coats were kept, carefully, six feet from the coal chest. We had coal-dusted clothes with black collars to make black necks.  There was a smell of coal and soot, all the time.

Gran used to say, 'I’ll sponge down the coats.  They'll be all right then'.  In all of my life with Gran, she always had the same two coats. They were never subjected to the hands of 'Pullars of Perth', dry cleaners. They were just sponged down now and then.

In the gloom of the hall, was  the hall stand, incorporating an umbrella stand without umbrellas,  And there was a mirror to see, through the coal dust, if you were tidy to go outdoors, but it was too dark to see clearly.  Later the light bulb was removed - to aid the blackout?"


"Carpet and floor were cleaned by Betty on Saturday mornings.  Each week, the galvanized dustbins were carried down the stairs and lined up along the pavement edge

There were rows of bins outside every stair entrance, to be banged and clanged in the morning as they were slung up on to the shoulders of the dustmen, and tipped into the dustcarts.

Patient horses, dusted with ash, removed the Edinburgh rubbish.  Bins were left with lids askew, like a row of drunks, to be carried upstairs again as people came home from work.

The Ewbank carpet sweeper was used to clean the carpets and of coal dust and soot.  It was a brown wooden box on four wheels, concealing two roller brushes and two tin boxes along front and rear, to scrape the dirt from brush to box, not very successfully.

After each attempt at sweeping, the sweeper was turned over and the two boxes were flipped open.  The contents were lifted out by hand and much of the dirt was spilt back on to the carpets before the contents were dropped it in the dustbin, or thrown on the fire.  Dirt and coal dust burnt well.

There were carpet squares and runners here and there in rooms and the hallway, but in the kitchen linoleum was king.  It was swept daily and polished weekly by Gran, on hands and knees.  Polish was rubbed hard and long to get Gran’s preferred shine."

The Parlour

"Much later, a vacuum cleaner arrived.  It was possibly the smallest Hoover ever made.  It was used mainly in the parlour, the big front room, overlooking the street.  The room was corniced and rosed with plasterwork. A forty watt bulb in a mammoth glass lampshade dimly lit the three piece suite’s rexine.  The parlour also had a gate-legged table, a sideboard, blackout curtains and shutters.

The parlour had a decorative fireplace, but a fire was never lit in my memory. A tiny two-bar electric fire stood before it’s massive coal cousin.  One bar was sometimes lit if guests were here, but not very often.  Much later, a divan bed moved in and the parlour became my bedroom."

Spring Clean

"Each spring, the dark furniture was attacked by Gran and Aunt Sarah with diluted vinegar, to clean off the grime.  This made  the house smell like a pickle factory.

Once or twice a year, blankets ceremoniously washedA seasonal event was the 'blanket jamboree'.  In the kitchen, a pulley operated an indoor washing line.  The washing hung above the meals at the kitchen table, to wetly stroke your head  as you left the table.

No one hung washing outside in Preston Street. Washing attracted soot."

Doors and Windows

"Interior doors were of heavy pine, thickly painted.  There were examples of the art of imitation wood graining, varnishing over a paint surface then combing by the painter to simulate the wood grain of a pine door.  But it was probably not as realistic as the pine door beneath the layers of paint!

There were shutters on all the windows, useful in the blackout. The sash windows lifted onto hinges on the frames, then swung into the rooms to allow window cleaning in and out.

Gran could be seen outside, on the window sill, sitting facing into the room, washing the top half of the window, holding on by one hand to stop her from falling into the street, 20 feet below."


"I remember the valves and taps on the gas mantles, to make the room lighter or darker.  Gran lit a taper in the fire to light the gas, then adjusted it so that the mantle gave light.  She watched it to make sure that it did not burn black.  Sooty mantles added their quota of grime to the house.

Later, we had electricity and bulbous light switches.  'Don’t you touch them!Gran was uncertain of electricity.  She protected her head with a dish towel if a light globe had to be changed."


"Gran was a witch over the coal fire. She had a cast iron hob to swing over the flames. There were black cooking pots and we had greyish food.

There was a ‘Yorkist’ range, oven to the left, heated by the fire to the right, and a back boiler to heat up water in the copper boiler by the sink.  Bath was ready after the gurgles and bangs of the boiler come to a stop.

We had no other heating in the flat.  On winter mornings, there were frost patterns on the inside of the windows.  Sometimes, by the time I came home from school, the ice would be gone.  If the frosts lasted, the iced windows could last for days.

At bedtime, I kept some clothes on to climb between the icy sheets.  Then I heaved the layers of blankets over my head.  I pulled my pyjamas into bed and held them until they felt warm, then changed for sleep, carefully pushing a foot out, a little, until that bit of bed was warm - then a bit further, and gradually I had made a warm place to go to sleep.

On winter mornings, feet were instantly chilled on the linoleum. It was a race to get clothes on and into the kitchen, hoping that the fire was lit.

Later, somehow, the oven in the kitchen was converted to gas. It had gas jets on each side, behind the iron doors and the vent to the fire was sealed off.  By the wall, a gas tap arrived. It was used to connect a gas poker which was stuck among the coal in the fireplace to start the fire.

Gran was relieved of making a parcel of dross from the coal box in the hall, to mix with potato peel and wrap in the Evening News, all to be soaked and placed on top of the fire at night, so that it would hopefully still be alight in the morning.  That did not always work!"

Oven Accident

"Much later, the whole gas set-up caught Gran out, and the oven exploded with flame as she tried to light it. She was singed and her hair burned off at the front.  That was the only time that Gran took an afternoon off from housework.

She rested in the parlour, with the electric fire lit. Betty and I were given coins to go to the cinema for the afternoon."

Modern Life

"Soon after, the remaining space in the kitchen was filled by a proper stand-alone gas cooker, with a flint gas lighter to be squeezed, one-handed, to make a spark to light the gas burners.  Modern life was approaching.

Not long after that, a new mains radio arrived, optimistically dialled to tune in to Hilversum, Athlone or Brazzaville, and Hamburg."



Wartime Food

"Aunt Sarah found a recipe in a magazine.  Wartime recipes had turnips, Swedes, 'mock-this' and 'mock that'. 

Jars of carrot jam were made, then neatly sealed with cellophane and elastic bands.  There was a ceremonial opening of the first jar. We should have known that wartime recipes were more of hope than culinary research.

The swill bin in the street got most of it and our neighbours were presented with the jars so that they, in turn, could empty them into the swill bin.

Betty made mock pineapple tarts from turnips and flavourings. They were eaten, because some sugar ration had been included.

Gran made omelettes with dried-egg powder.  They lay, flat and leathery, on the plate, like yellow boot soles.

The meat ration was cooked Sunday, cold on Monday and minced Wednesday.   If it had been mutton that week, by Wednesday it had become fatty gristle."

Sunday Meals

"Our peculiar Sunday lunch was a biscuit (Abernethy), and a glass of lemonade from a bottle bought specially for Sundays, from Vietch’s Mineral Waters, suppliers.

We had one glass each, then the bottle was stopped up until the next Sunday, when it had gone flat, then the next Sunday, and each Sunday until the bottle was empty.

After, on the Monday I took the bottle back to get the penny deposit back, and Gran got a fresh bottle for the next Sunday.

Sunday evening, tea time, was the meal of the day.  Then we hadquiet reading, but not comics, until bed time.  As the war went on, we were allowed to go out a bit more."


"After the Sunday cooking, the dripping was stored in a cup.  The following Sunday, more dripping was added on top - a sandwich of pork, beef and mutton dripping.  If mostly beef, it was spread on toast.

The toast was made from wartime bread, held on a toasting fork before the red coals of the kitchen fire.  Hands holding the fork cooked faster than the bread, and the bread fell into the fire, to be rescued, black and flaming.  Flames were extinguished and the toast was scraped brown again before applying dripping."


"Indifferent dripping brought forth Gran’s finest meal, stovies.  They were hot, spicy, fatty and filling for an invariably ravenous boy.   It took Gran all morning to make stovies.

Potatoes and onions were chopped small, then put into her favoured black iron pan with all the dripping.  Water was added and the pan was gently cooked over the fire until dinner time, adding pepper in large quantities, and water to keep it wet.

Potatoes and pepper could always found, and onions were not rationed, so this was the only meal where second helpings might be had.

Later, Gran’s black pot got a hole in it. I went to the ironmonger by Rankeillor Street to get a repair kit  -  two washers, one inside, one outside, were secured firmly to the pan bottom by a bolt.  The hole was sealed, and the pan was ready for re-use  -  except it still leaked.

Gran ceremoniously bought a new aluminium pan from the Co-op in Nicolson Street.  It was her first new pan in possibly 30 years.  She admired it’s shiny looks, but it was castigated for its cooking qualities."

School Dinners

"Much later, when I went to Boroughmuir School, there were school dinners for a few pence each day.

After becoming used to the meals made and near-ruined by Gran’s cooking, school dinners were luxurious. I could never get enough, and the rush to the serving tables, if there was a shout of ‘Seconds!’, was tremendous.

It is a mystery to me why so many schoolchildren decry school meals."

Toffee Apples

"I never got enough food. Anything edible was swallowed, except carrot jam.

Mrs Craigie sold apples which would shrink your mouth, but we ate them.  Sometimes she sold toffee apples on slivers of firewood - big apples and thin toffee.  There were no sweets to buy, so toffee apples of any kind were a treat."

Other Food

"Dad brought, from York, a huge tin of cocoa with milk and sugar already in, courtesy of Rowntrees and the firewatchers at York who were allowed cocoa to fortify them against the cold and the incendiaries.

Aunt Sarah got a food parcel from Australia - tined peaches and apricots, jam, meat, and sweets.  It was a gift from employees of Paton and Baldwin, Australia.  The tins were were put away for later.

Gran had a large tin of salmon that she had she had bought in 1939. No one ever thought of opening it. We got by on bread and near-jam.

Like soap, butter was a rarity. Alex’s Mum mixed her butter ration with the rock-hard margarine to make the butter go farther and the margarine taste a bit better

Beetroot sandwiches with margarine were often served.  It was not a meal to wish for."




"There was no playing on Sunday.  Then, we were all to wear our best clothes, the suit from the St Cuthbert’s Co-op in Bread Street.  It was too new to  play in.  It was made of stiff cloth, a miniature grown-up’s suit.  It was big, naturally, to grow into.

On an Edinburgh Sunday, no shops were open except the Jewish baker, and no entertainment was allowed.


"There was a 'salvage dump' in our playground.  Salvage, left alone, had a distinctive smell.

Playing football in the playground was better after the salvage had been collected, but salvage did not stop the footballAlways, we used an old tennis ball bald of any nap.  Shoes were rapidly worn out on the concrete of the playground.

Knees, hands and elbows were always in pain, but the footballers played on.  We were training to play for Hearts or Hibs.  The steel goalposts that held up the playground shed made goalkeepers very fine judges of distance."


"Games came in regulated seasons.  There was no written calendar.  It was just marble time, or rounder's time, or fishing time, or skating time.  It just happened.

Marbles was played along the street gutters, glassie chasing glassie to click into it, and become yours.  Always, one player stood with feet at 'ten to two' ahead of the sivors to save any glassie or steelie from a watery end in Edinburgh’s street drains.

There were no parked cars to interfere with the game, only the scaffie pushing his bucketed wheelbarrow, birch brooms on top, or sweeping steadily along the streets, deftly shovelling rubbish, with a twist of his arm, into his buckets.  He has a limp and a twisted arm."

Play in the Streets

"The shelters in the back greens were fun to play on. The long, sloping concrete doorway made a good slide. We had our own war in and around the greens. We were heavily armed, with toy guns for some and sticks for most.

Battles waged back and forth, end to end of the streets. Personnel changed sides.  Girls stayed away.  They had their own games, skipping while singing  skipping rhymes, darting into the circling rope, and out again to let the next girl in.

Boys were sometimes allowed to skip with them, but only under instruction.  Girls played peevers, not hop-scotch in Edinburgh.  They drew chalk patterns and devices on the ground, calligraphic  pavement art in pipeclay.

We played yo-yos, diabolos, hoops, girds and whipping tops.  We used peeries, supplied with a short stick and a leather thong for a whip.   Those who had coloured chalks made daps of colour on the top of the peerie which blended when the top spun.  Coloured peeries was much more fun.

All the streets were for playing on. There were no cars to hold up the games.  

Oxford Street had a light-coloured surface that was cracked.  It was fine for peevers, but not for roller skates or any wheels.

Rankeillor Street was best for roller skates. There were children there who are strangers. They were just three streets away but they were aliens.  They were not of our gang.

Someone got a new bike - a wartime bike. It had no chromed handlebars or wheel rims. It was black enamel (?) for those parts.  After a short time the brakes wore the black paint off the rims, making space for rust.

South Oxford Street was a short gloomy cul de sac that ended at the black wall of the cemetery.  It was a 'never in sunlight' street.  It made an escape route for the cemetery's ghosts.

-  At Lutton Place, there was the yard of Pillans & Wilson, educational printers.  You could climb on a wall, and leap onto a pile of soft waste piled in a corner, until the caretaker came.  Climbing up to escape, the swarm of small boys out-climbed any alpinists.

George found a hand grenade in a back green. We all retreated to the far end.  Evelyn was sent to the Police Station.  She was the one to do that kind of thing.

The policeman came with her.  We all stood back, and the policeman brought us the hand grenade to see. It was the pineapple top for an iron railing, a Victorian design for a hand grenade!"

Trip to the Country

"Sometimes, I was allowed to take the tram to Liberton Dams. I ran to the burn, shoes off, to guddle for sticklebacks and minnows under the weeds at the bank.  We lit fires and ran wild by the water.

Once, I cut my foot on broken glass, and lost a shoe.  Late in the day I got the tram home, limping in my single shoe, home to confront Gran.  My cut foot was bandaged, and my ear was clipped for losing a shoe.

The next day, Gran, armed with a brass curtain rod, took me back to the burn side where she fished out my shoe.  She grumbled as we went back to the tram.

Shoes were always a major matter.   I had one pair for Sunday best, one pair for school, and one pair of play shoesAll shoes let in water.  Wellington boots were rare as all rubber was taken by the war effort."

Trip to the Sea

"I ran from Preston Street to Waterloo Place to save a penny fare, then got on a tram and, for a penny, went all the way to Levenhall, miles away through Portobello and Musselburgh.

At Levenhall, the terminus was near the grass of the racecourse, by the sea.  I watched the driver pull the pantograph from the overhead wires, and walk round the tramcar to put it back on the wires, then go to the other end to take the tram back to Waterloo Place.

After a run across the grass to the sea across and back, I had a penny ride back to Waterloo Place, then ran over The Bridges to home.  Two pence worth of adventure in an afternoon!  Our tram tickets were printed with 'LorD'.  We were Lords. The conductor told us that it meant 'luggage or dog'."

Holyrood Park

"We spent days in Holyrood Park.

-  We fished at Duddingston Loch.

-  We climbed Jacob’s ladder from Duddingston up to Dunsappie.

-  We scaled Arthur’s Seat and clutched the pillar on the summit to stop the wind blowing us over.

-  We looked down at the soldiers in Hunter’s Bog firing range and watched the bullets hit the scree below us. After the soldiers had left, we had expeditions to the range to search for bits of bullet behind the targets. 

Once, we found live bullets in the ditch behind the firing platform.  Frankie threw them at the rocks, at the top of Samson’s Ribs, to see if they would explode.  The rest of us ran off.  We had seen how cowboys' bullets could down people in all directions."


"We went to Holyrood Park in summer and winter.  In winter, we  slid on frozen Duddingston Loch or sledged down from Echo Rock, speeding over snow, missing rocks by a whisker most of the time.

I crashed into one boulder and cracked my teeth.  Everyone broke something at the sledging.  Sledging went on and on, into the darkness. Snow filled the corners of our thin coats. Short trousers were soaked at the hems. Wellingtons filled with snow, then icy water.

Red knees were chapped and painful, and had to be rubbed agonizingly with blocks of ‘Snowfire’ ointment.  We had chilblains and frozen hands.  Woollen gloves were quickly soaked by the first snowballs.

Clothes were only just dry for the next day.   We had weeks of  of winter, icy pavements and drifts of snow higher than my head.  Preston Street was knee deep in brown slush which found all the holes in shoes and Wellingtons.

Blackout was not so black when the streets are snow-covered. Winter nights of snow and moonlight were more fun than daytime.  The war games changed to suit. We became Russians;  We became Fins;  or we ended the war and became Eskimos, not knowing at all what Eskimos did.

There was a very slow thaw.  Nights of hard frost regulated the departure of the snow.  On the tenement roofs, the snow was turned grey by the soot and slid towards the inadequate gutters, to overhang them and the streets below.

On the  fall pipes and drains from the houses, long icicles formed dangerous stalactites, as thick as your leg.  Lance-like ends aimed at the street. They could hurt if they hit a target.

We would watch until one fell then collect the bigger fragments We put a bit of ice under one shoe, to be slid along, the other foot pushing, until the front leg went too fast and balance was lost  -  a winter game with winter injuries."

Summer Evenings

"In summer, we had Double British Summertime, a device to let children go to bed in daylight.  We resented being kept indoors whilst the sun had still a glimmer of light.

We read by the window, long after bedtime, the sun setting over the tenement chimney stacks.  There were tall clusters of chimneys, some with cowls called grannies - metal bonnets that swung in the wind to keep the fires drawing.

At dusk, the chimney stacks changed into groups of thin people, gathered to discuss the day, the women wearing mob caps or bonnets. Then, from my bed, I watched the stars appear, to fill the sky, end to end.  There was a milky way then!

As the night wore on, I heard the sound of people walking in the street.  No cars went by.  On Saturday nights, the passers by sometimes sang or shouted. The Edinburgh brewers contributed to some evening cheer."




"We listened to ‘Children’s Hour’ on the Home Service of the BBC at five o’clock; to hear Kathleen Garscadden lead us into an hour of magic.

I remember :

-  the stories:

‘Tammy Troot’

‘Bran the Cat’

‘Braeside Mains’

-  ‘Out with Romany’ and his perpetually barking dog, Raq.

-  the weekly serial:

- ‘Pigeon Post’ by Arthur Ransome, read by David Davies.

-  the play:

 ‘Box of Delights’.  It used to scare us all.

the music:

 ‘A Christmas Carol Symphony’.  It haunts me even now."


"The New Victoria had a Saturday Cinema Club.

 An announcement was made that a prize would be given to the girl or boy who collected the most rose hips.

These were needed to make rose hip syrup as a vitamin substitute.  Days were spent at Liberton and around Holyrood Park being scratched and torn, to get a paper bag of rose hips.

All were transferred into a shopping bag to take in on the Saturday.  A girl won.  I forget the prize.  It was nothing much, maybe a Savings Certificate.

The New Victoria's plush seats were crowded for cowboys and comedy.  The serial hero died at 12 noon each Saturday, but was miraculously restored to life at 11.30am next Saturday.

There was community singing, where we followed the little white dot.  The cinema organist rose from the dark to play for us.   ‘Rule Britannia  and 'Jerusalem' were great favourites."


"I joined the Library at George IV Bridge.  We were allowed two books out at a time, for children.  These were quickly readSometimes I made two visits to George IV Bridge in a week."


"We had to learn dancing at school; not ballroom but Scottish dancing:

'Set to your partner.

Two steps one way and skip back.

Lock arms and swing around.''

Teacher at the almost-tuned piano, was glad that dancing was
only occasional."


"Gran said, ‘Join the church choir.  You get paid.’

I joined, briefly but got no money.  So I went to another church. ‘The Church of Christ’, non-conformist, Band of Hope, next to the Brewery.

There, they sang loudly and lustily, and they had a good picnic.  I liked that one.  Were they Baptists?  There was a pit by the altar, with taps!

But Sundays interfered with play."


"Occasionally at the church in Lutton Place, there would be a wedding. Word got round and children would gather at the church to see bride and groom out and away.

We stood around the wedding car, or taxi, chanting ‘Poor oot! Poor oot!’  With luck, a handful of small change would be thrown by the groom or Best Man out and onto the road.

The scrum that followed was a heaving of elbows and fists. Knees were scraped on the road.  Arguments flared up, then quickly ended.

If lucky, you would have, maybe, a penny or ha’penny in your hand, more often a farthing.  Once I got a thrupenny bit! - a fortune!"




"Some of Gran’s tales of her young days were definitely non-PC. There was gang warfare on Orange days. She instructed me to avoid Catholics, or Papists, to her.  'Cross the road if you see a Nun.'

Gran had a disdain of Highlanders. ‘Teuchters wi’ a’ their heederum hoderum songs’.  She laughed at kiltie cauldbums’.

Her wee dram on a Saturday tea time was 'medicinal', to keep her fit.

If only she had written it all down.  She had a hard life, widowed early, lost her first child in the war, and was burdened by grandchildren at an age when she should have been quietly retired."


"It's unfair for me to comment on clothes, cleanliness, or the food we had during the war period.  Meat, dairy products, clothes, soap and other commodities were strictly limited.

It was almost impossible to keep clean. Clothes had to be worn for years, and it was difficult to get them clean. A chance spillage on clothes of anything at all greasy or staining was a disaster.

It was a wonder that we were fed or clothed at all."

Jim Vandepeear, York, Yorkshire, England:  March 31 + April 1, 2010



Gus Coutts

Duddingston, Edinburgh

Thank you to Gus Coutts and several others who have emailed me over the past couple of days, telling me how much they enjoyed reading Jim Vandepeear's memories (2 above).

Jim wrote:

Wartime Memories


"Being a 1940 model, I felt I just had to write to say how much pleasure it gave me this morning to read Jim's memories of wartime Edinburgh (2 above).

His memory of detail is fantastic.  It would be well worthwhile  if his memories could end up in print  for a wider audience.


My only minor quibble is that, as far as I can remember, during the war and up to the point of nationalisation, when SMT became  Scottish Omnibuses, most of their buses were painted blue with the long distance ones being cream with a maroon stripe along the side.

I had the doubtful pleasure, in 1946 or 1947, of enduring the bus journey from Edinburgh to London.  At that time it took 15, yes 15, hours."

Gus Coutts, Duddingston, Edinburgh:  April 6, 2010




Margaret Goodchild

Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England

Thank you to Margaret Goodchild, another viewer who appreciated reading Jim Vandepeear's wartime memories, for writing:

Wartime Memories


"I would just like to say a tremendous thank you to Jim Vandepeear for those wonderful memories of his childhood in Edinburgh.2


"I too went to Preston Street School and Boroughmuir.  Jim's talk of all the local shops really brought it all back to me.  I was born in 1933 so was obviously growing up at much the same time, I remember the accumulator shop, Marciano's chip shop and Hornig's and Laidig's

Memories of going to all of those shops swept back when I read Jim's message.  Dr Goldberg was our Doctor too. So I have had a wonderful time reading it all."

Margaret Goodchild, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England:
Message posted in EdinPhoto guest book, April 6, 2010

More Recollections To Follow

I've told Jim that people have appreciated reading his memories.

Jim tells me that, next, he hopes to send me some of his memories of the post-war years, when he attended Boroughmuir School.  I look forward to receiving them and adding them to the web site.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  April 8, 2010




Ron Dingwall

Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Ronald Dingwall for posting a message in the Edinphoto guestbook.

Ronald wrote:


"Jim Vandepeear's stories (in 2 above) are excellent.  I am of a later generation, but I remember many of the shops he mentions.  They were still around in the 1950s and early-1960s.

My avid memory of the store in West Preston Street was the smell of beetroot on the day it was being boiled in the shop. I can't stomach the smell, even now.

Other shops I remember were:

Mr Turners, newsagent in St Leonards

The Manby's, dairy just round from Stonehouse shop

Timmin's dairy, next to Turners

Freddie's chip shop opposite the coal station

- The shop that sold flagons of Cidona, each bottle marked 'AF'.   They wouldn't take a bottle back without 'AF' on it."


"My father died in the early-1950s, when I was just 2, so my mother worked in the store warehouse in Richmond Street.  I'm now amazed at how she coped. I grew up not knowing any deprivation."


"I started at Preston Street School in 1954 with Mrs Boyd (Infant Mistress) as my teacher.  Mr Hutchison was the Headmaster. No women could reach those dizzy heights at that time.  I then had Miss Dickson, Mrs Wood then Mrs Galloway before I left to go to Heriots."

Air Raid Shelters

"In the 1960s, Pillans & Wilsons, Printers, still had air raid shelters at the bottom of the driveway from Lutton Place. We used to dare each other to go into these dark smelly places and run through without being caught by the 'monsters'."

Ron Dingwall, Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland:
Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, July 20, 2011.


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