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A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Links to pages with Photos of Groups   Frequently Asked Questions

  Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Links to Dumbiedykes pages  Link to Granton pages  Link to Leith pages   Link to Newhaven pages   Links to Portobello pages   Link to My Recent Talks

 

Recollections

Nicolson Street

Heading south from the GPO, the name of the road becomes:

 North Bridge, South Bridge, Nicolson Street, Clerk Street, South Clerk Street, Newington Road, Minto Street, Mayfield Gardens

Please click on one of the links below, or scroll down this page.

1.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

McKenzie's Toy Shop

-  Catapults

-  Sheath Knife

-  Air Pistols

2.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

National Commercial Bank

-  Skerry's

-  JK Rowling plaque

-  Martins the Bakers

3.

Dick MARTIN
Borders, Scotland

-  McKenzie's Toy Shop

-  Sheath Knife, Catapult, Air Pistol

-  Rugby Boots

-  Empire Theatre

The Gods

-  Pop Singers

-  Today

4.

Bob HENDERSON
Borders, Scotland

-  Empire Theatre

The Gods

5.

Dick MARTIN
Borders, Scotland

-  Empire Theatre

6.

Bob HENDERSON
Borders, Scotland

-  Empire Theatre

Stalls Arrangement

Disneyland

7.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

McKenzie's Sports Shop

-  Football and Rugby Boots

-  Football Boots

-  Rugby Boots

8.

Eric GOLD
East London

McKenzie's Sports Shop

9.

Mike Melrose
East London

-  The Empire

-  McKenzie's Sports Shop

10.

S Cameron
Southside, Edinburgh

-  Nicolson Square  Question

11.

Benzyl
Edinburgh

-  Nicolson Square  Reply 1

12.

Douglas Bryce
Pilton, Edinburgh

-  Nicolson Square  Reply 2

13.

Eric Gold
East London

-  Nicolson Square  Reply 3

14.

Claire Culley (née Williams)
North Island, New Zealand

-  Hill Square

 

Recollections

1.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

McKenzie's Toy Shop

"Thinking about Frank Royle’s model shop a few days ago, reminded me of another magnet for my attention. McKenzie’s just a few yards south of the Empire Theatre on Nicolson Street.  (They also had a smaller shop at Tollcross, on the east side of Home Street just before Tarvit Street and the Kings Theatre.)"

Catapults

"McKenzie's had a wide range of toys and sports goods on two floors. I used to get great catapults there, which we played with endlessly setting up targets and holding 'hot shot' competitions for days.  The real skill was selecting the right shape and weight of stones."

Sheath Knife

"I also remember getting a bone-handled sheath knife for my twelfth birthday at McKenzies, which I wore on my Scout belt with great pride for a few years.  It was no big deal 50 years ago, but would surely land me in a heap of trouble nowadays."

Air Pistols

"I used to also stare longingly In McKenzie’s window at the air pistols and air rifles, but never ever managed to persuade my parents to get me one."

 Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland:  August 24, 2008

 

Recollections

2.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

20-30 Nicolson Street

    20-30 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh  -   Photograph  taken 2008 ©

National Commercial Bank

Looking at your photo of 20-30 Nicolson Street (above), the far-left building on the ground floor with the white sign, used to be the National Commercial Bank.  It closed when it was taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland which already had a branch a few yards away on the corner with Hill Place."  (That's the building on the right of this photo.)

Skerry's

"Upstairs, in the building in the centre of this photo, with the Friendship Centre sign,  was Skerry's, a school for shorthand and typing."

2-8a Nicolson Street

    2-8a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh  -   Photograph  taken 2008 ©

J K Rowling Plaque

"I noticed, in the passing last week, that a small plaque (with J K Rowling’s photo) has been erected on the far left of the green building on the corner with Drummond Street saying she wrote the first Harry Potter in a coffee shop which is now a Chinese restaurant on the first floor."

Martins the Bakers

"I remember it as Martins the Bakers restaurant in the 1960s, the dark red front below the Buffet King.  That's where I began my life-long love affair with vanilla slices and snowballs"

 Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland:  August 24, 2008

 

Recollections

3.

Dick Martin

Borders, Scotland

Thank you to Dick Martin who wrote:

McKenzie's Toy Shop

Sheath Knife, Catapult, Air Pistol

"Like Bryan (1 above), I bought a sheath knife for the scouts and catapult  but I also had a Diana Air Pistol, all bought from McKenzie's, as did a couple of my pals.

Come to think about it we were totally irresponsible in the way we used the Air Guns and catapults, hiding, in stair entrances, behind waste bins and lamp posts etc. while firing at each other.

Fortunately no one ever got injured. Of course we told our parents that we were only shooting at paper targets and because we were all so loveable little boys, our parents believed us."

Rugby Boots

"In 1949, when I started at Broughton Secondary School, the only place my mum could get me a pair of rugby boots was McKenzie's.  Plenty of shops had football boots but not rugby boots.  I can't remember what difference there was between the two but you would have been classed as improperly dressed by your team mates had you turned up in football boots."

 Dick Martin, Borders, Scotland:  August 27, 2008

Empire Theatre

'The Gods'

"Bryan also mentioned the Empire Theatre.  McKenzie's shop had three windows, one on each side of the front door and one up the close which lead on to Surgeon's Square.

In that close, beside the rear door to McKenzie's, was the entrance to the balcony, more commonly called 'the Gods', of the Empire Theatre.

In the mid 1940's my grandparents would take me, on Friday nights to the Empire to see the variety acts of the day.  (What has happened to them?)  The queue would snake from that door right through the close and into Surgeons Square.

Pop Singers

"In my teen years, I was a regular at the Empire, when they had the top 'Pop' singers of the day. I remember Frankie Lane, Johnnie Ray, Guy Mitchell, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt and Frankie Vaughan, all in their prime at the time."

Today

"The Empire Theatre was turned into a Bingo Hall.  Now it's the Edinburgh Festival Theatre."

 Dick Martin, Borders, Scotland:  August 27, 2008

Empire Theatre  -  Brief History

The theatre originally opened as the 'Empire Palace Theatre' in 1892.  It was the first of a chain of Moss 'Empire Theatres' throughout Britain.  It has seats for 3,000 theatre-goers on four levels.

It became a bingo hall from 1963 to 1991, and was then reconstructed with a glass frontage, to become the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, that opened in 1994.

 [Edinburgh Festival Theatre web site]   - Peter Stubbs:  August 28, 2008

 

Recollections

4.

Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson who wrote:

Empire Theatre
'The Gods'

"I, too, used to be taken to the theatre once a week by my parents in the 1940s, after the war.  We always ended up in the these stalls  -  what Dick Martin called the gods.

The Empire was the only theatre I was taken to that still had these stalls.  They were a means of crowd control,  and the same method is still used to this day in all the Disney World Parks.

I recognised the system immediately on my first visit to Disney World in California, even though it was more than forty years since the days when I was taken to the theatre in Edinburgh."

Bob Henderson:  August 29, 2008

Questions

Bob:

1. I think that the 'stalls' that you mention may be something different from 'the Gods' that Dick mentions in 3 above.   When I grew up in Yorkshire in the 1950s, I knew the Balcony as 'the Gods'.

2. Can you tell me what the 'stalls' arrangement was that you refer to, that  acted as a means of crowd control?

Thanks.    -  Peter Stubbs:  August 29, 2008

Answers

Please see 'Recollections 6' (below) to read Bob's answers

 

Recollections

5.

Dick Martin

Borders, Scotland

Thank you to Dick Martin who wrote:

Empire Theatre

Stalls

My understanding of the seating arrangements in a theatre was.

1) Ground floor---------The Stalls

2)  First Tier--------------The Royal Circle

3)  Second Tier---------The Upper Circle

4) Top Floor-------------The Balcony

The Balcony was commonly known as the 'Gods' because it was so high from ground level and nearer to Heaven, and therefore had the cheapest seats in the house.

I've never come across the term 'Stalls'  or 'Gods' in a theatrical sense to mean some sort of area which regulated crowd movement within the building.

Safety Curtain

Before the start of a performance at The Empire Theatre, the safety curtain would be dropped. On it was a notice which read:

"This theatre can be cleared in 2 minutes.
Please leave in an orderly manner".

Dick Martin, Borders, Scotland:  August 1, 2008

 

Recollections

6.

Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson for answering the questions in 4 (above).

Bob wrote:

Empire Theatre

"At the Empire, for the cheaper seats, you entered by the side doors, which were under cover at the side of McKenzie's sports shop.

These doors were labelled: 'Stalls'.  From these doors,  you went upstairs to the stalls arrangement, then at the appointed time you were allowed into the auditorium at the balcony level.

The stalls were exactly what they say; a large room on the same floor as the top circle which was divided up by wooden slatted walls."

Stalls Arrangement

 Diagram of the stalls at Empire Theatre

"This room would be completely filled with people prior to the start of the night's entertainment.  It allowed everyone to get up the several flights of stairs and to their seats very quickly.

This, at least, was the arrangement until 1949 when we moved out of the suburbs and stopped going to the Empire every week."

Disneyland

"I later saw the same system being used at Disneyland.  The barriers there were being used to disguise the actual size of the queue and to contain the queue in a relatively small space."

 Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  August 30, 2008

 

Recollections

7.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote again:

McKenzie's Sports Shop

"It's good to hear that Dick Martin was also good customer of McKenzie’s sports shop.  I’m jealous he got a Diana Air Pistol."

Football and Rugby Boots

"Dick has jogged my memory that I got my first pair of football boots there when I was about nine – and my first rugby boots about three years later.

As he says, the boots were quite different, and jogging on onto the rugby pitch wearing football boots would have spurred many disapproving glances."

Football Boots

"As I recall, football boots were brown, had an extremely hard toecap and a reinforcing strap of leather that went across at a slight angle in the space between the bottom of the laces and the toecap. Studs were made of leather and just hammered into the sole.

Over time, the nails used to appear through the studs and were lethal if they came in contact with opponents’ shins. Not everybody could afford shin pads. Sometimes the nails used to come through the sole of the boot right into your foot."

Rugby Boots

"Rugby boots were black, seemed to be made of a softer leather, with a toecap that was a different, flatter shape and nothing like as hard as football boots."

 Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland:  September 1, 2008

 

Recollections

8.

Eric Gold

East London

Thank you to Eric Gold who wrote:

McKenzie's Sports Shop

"I enjoyed reading the bit about Mr McKenzie who had the sports shop next to the Festival theatre, known as the Empire.

He brought his Humber car in to the garage that I worked briefly as a kid to be washed in the Potterrow.  He used to give me a shilling tip which got me into the La Scala (ha ha ha ha)"

Eric Gold, East London:  September 4 + 11,  2008

Recollections

9.

Mike Melrose

Greenbank, Edinburgh

Thank you to Michael Melrose who wrote:

The Empire

"Looking at your photographs of the Empire Theatre brought many memories flooding back.

Empire Theatre, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh - 1957 ©

"My Grandparents and Parents lived in the Cowgate and Nicolson Street most of their lives.  My Grandmother used to take me to the Pantomimes at The Empire at Christmas time.   She remembered very well The Empire ablaze on the night that  it burnt down."

McKenzie's Sports Shop

"I have a very vivid recollection of the sports shop next door to 'The Empire', that was McKenzie’s.  McKenzie’s was on two floors and I can still remember walking up to the second floor and breathing in the smell of leather football boots, leather footballs and the distinctive smell of DubbinI can even smell it now, as I write this."

Mike Melrose, Greenbank, Edinburgh:  August 6, 2010

Recollections

10.

S Cameron

Southside, Edinburgh

S Cameron wrote:

Nicolson Square

Timber Framed Building

"There was an 18th century timber-framed building that stood on the SE corner of Nicolson Square and Nicolson Street.  It's now a modern building with the Mosque Kitchen on the ground floor.

I remember it suddenly 'disappeared' in the 1980s or 1990s  -  possibly a fire -  perhaps an 'insurance job'."

Question

"Can anybody tell me anything about the old timber-framed  building?

I became a Southsider 8 years ago and this question has been a bee in my bonnet. Today, nobody I know remembers, or cares, about it."

S Cameron, Southside, Edinburgh:  August 15, 2011

 

Recollections

11.

Benzyl

Edinburgh

Thank you to Benzyl for replying to the question in 10 above.

Benzyl wrote:

Reply 1

Nicolson Square

Fire

"As I recall, this building suffered a 'mysterious' fire in 1992, about the same time as the Palace Hotel on Princess Street, for possibly the same reason - hard times and listed building status making it a hard sell or redevelopment project.

I think, apart from some nondescript shops on the ground floor, that it had been unoccupied for decades prior to the fire, as was the resultant gap-site for over ten years afterwards due, it seems, to ownership rights uncertainty.

The picture on bottom left on this page from the RCAHMS Canmore web site** seems to be the building in question, although the half timbered memory is probably Parkers store, also somewhat fire-prone.  The middle-top picture on the same page is a continuation of the view to the West of Nicholson Square."

Benzyl, Edinburgh:  August 23, 2011

**   All six photos in this link are from an album compiled by the survey section around 1915.

Recollections

12.

Douglas Bryce

Pilton, Edinburgh

Thank you to Douglas Bryce for replying to the question in 10 above.

Douglas wrote:

Reply 2

Nicolson Square

Ritchie's

"The shop that stood on the corner of Nicolson Square and Nicolson Street was called Ritchie's.

It was more of a warehousee which sold goods, mostly clothes on credit and you paid them up.

My Mother was brought up in Brighton Street, one of eleven, and my Granny would go 'ower-bye' to get them fitted-out.

I remember going there.  You entered from Nicolson Square and went up stairs.  It was still there into the 1970s."

Douglas Bryce, Pilton, Edinburgh:  August 24, 2011

Recollections

13.

Eric Gold

East London, England

Thank you to Eric Gold who wrote:

Reply 3

Nicolson Square

Ritchie's

"I was glad to read some people's comments on Ritchie's.  It was a great landmark for people in the Southside.  What a store!  When I read about it, memories came flooding back.  We used to go there when I lived in East Arthur Place, and so did the whole of the Dumbiedykes, too.

It was a great shop for clothing.  Mr Ritchie had everything there and you could get it on tick (credit).  He sent the Tick Man (credit or debt collector) on a Friday night to pick up your weekly payments.

He was a great man.  My ma would give him a cup of tea.  I'd love to know when Ritchie's ceased trading in Nicolson Square."

Eric Gold, East London, England:  September 1, 2011 (3 emails)

 

Recollections

14

Claire Culley
(
née Williams)

North Island, New Zealand

Thank you to Claire Culley who wrote:

Hill Square

Our Home

"Before moving to Craigmillar in 1955 as our family mum, dad and 3 kids) was expanding, we lived in Hill Square in what would have been called a 'penny tenement'.  It was a 'single end' consisting of a single room with a sink and a fireplace.

Baths

"I remember we had to go to the High School Yards for a bath once a week. The baths were huge and they had a seat inside as they were so deep.  This was before I was 5 years old so everything looked huge.  Gas mantles were used for light."

Shops

"I remember:

- There was a cobbler underneath our tenements and the pawnbroker was across the road in Hill Square.

Around the corner was a small sweet shop.

-  Small lollies came in trays.

-  For a halfpenny, you could get two blackjacks.

- For a penny, you had a tray of caramel lollies like the penny dainty and licqourice chews and spearmint ones, or an iceblock in the summer.  They were just frozen ice blocks with some cordial added for flavour.

- Does anyone remember the 'Lucky Tattie'. You ate around it, then you came across some tin figure which was meant to be a lucky charm.

- Then there was the sherbet dab, and also potato crisps came with its own twisty bag of salt."

Kindergarten

"I also remember going to a kindergarten in Davie Street, where we all wore little floral smocks. We had a visit from the Queen and all the kids were taken to Holyrood Park and given a Union Jack to wave to the Queen as she drove past.  It must have been 1953, the year of her Coronation, as I remember a huge street party going on.

Schools

"I went to Drummond St School but I couldn't have been there for long as my first school memories are of Peffermill School."

Claire Culley (née Williams), North Island, New Zealand:  November 13+17, 2013

 

 

Recollections  -  More Pages

Recollections  -   Contributors

 

__________________

 

Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page  Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.   At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.     At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.  

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photographers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.

 

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Links to pages with Photos of Groups   Frequently Asked Questions

  Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Links to Dumbiedykes pages  Link to Granton pages  Link to Leith pages   Link to Newhaven pages   Links to Portobello pages   Link to My Recent Talks