Student Life





John Brindle

Trinity, Edinburgh

Thank you to John Brindle, who wrote


Streets and Buildings

"I came to Edinburgh in 1960.  In those days one had to have a collar, tie and jacket for the formal evening dinners.

-  The area around the Mcewan Hall and George Square was entirely different then.

 I stayed for two years in a University Hall of Residence in George Square, with my sister in the Hall next door.    The university library now occupies the site of these two Halls.

 In front of the University Union was a hall used for Lectures.  It was subsequently demolished to improve traffic flows.

Leading into George Square from the north was  Charles Street, a short street with the Charles Tavern on the Union side, our nearest watering hole. Beer was a luxury but having said that it cost under 10p a pint.

Opposite the Charles Tavern was The Paperback which rapidly became an institution. It was a shop selling paperback books, run by Jim Haynes, a large bearded American.  Coffee flowed freely amongst a clientele, with fairly left wing CND type views."

John Brindle, Trinity, Edinburgh:  September 8, 2014

I've known John for over 50 years.  We both worked for Standard Life
 for about 40 years, joining the company as Actuarial Students in 1963.




Peter Stubbs


The Paperback Bookshop

Jim Haynes' Bookshop

Here is a 1965  photo of the rhino head that used to be attached to the wall above 'The Paperback Bookshop' at 22a Charles Street, to the north of George Square.

Photograph taken in Edinburgh, 1960  -  Where is it? ©

I learnt more about Jim Haynes and his bookshop when I added the photo above to the EdinPhoto web site in 2013, with the question:  'Where is it?'

Thank you to all who replied to that question.  Please click on the thumbnail image above to read the replies.

I met Jim Haynes on his annual visit to the Edinburgh Festival in August 2014.

Jim told me:


-  He lived in Edinburgh from 1957 to 1966. 

- He  bought his book shop in Charles Street and a coffee bar down the Royal Mile, around 1961 when Edinburgh property was cheaper. 
(He paid £300 for the book shop, £250 for the coffee bar at 369 High Street and £1,200 for his flat in Great King Street.)


- He now lives in Paris where and has held Dinner Parties at his home on Sundays for the past 36 years.

-  He was a Visiting Professor at Paris University, giving weekly lectures on Tuesday afternoons for about 25 years.

-  He returns to Edinburgh every August for the Festival.  This is his 57th Year at the Festival.

-  He is still writing books.  His latest two were launched at a Scottish Art Club Party held in Edinburgh during the Festival in August 2014.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 8, 204




Douglas Roberts

New Town, Edinburgh

Thank you to Douglas Roberts who wrote:

'The Rhinoceros Bookshop'.

"I know it's a bit of a giveaway, but I'm sure that this shop was actually called 'The Rhinoceros Bookshop'.  Hence, the head above the door.

If that was not its official name (though I'm sure it was) that was its unofficial name."

Douglas Roberts, New Town, Edinburgh:  September 8, 2014




Peter Stubbs


Jim Haynes


I asked Jim Haynes about the name of his shop.

He replied:

'The Paperback Bookshop'.

"The real name of the shop was 'The Paperback Bookshop.

The Rhinoceros Bookshop was what a lot of people called it."

Jim Haynes, Paris:  September 8, 2014




Peter Stubbs


Jim Haynes


I was curious to know the background to the rhinoceros head outside Jim Haynes' Paperback Bookshop, so I asked him about it:

-  Why a rhinoceros head?

-  Where did it come from?

Jim replied:

The Rhinoceros Head.

"I was walking down Princes one bright sunny morning with a friend when we encountered two workmen carrying out this mounted Rhino head from the New Club.

I asked them what they were doing with it and they replied that they were throwing it away.  I said that I would take it.  I hailed a taxi and we took it to Charles Street.

 By luck, there was a place outside the wall of the bookshop where it could easily be fixed and that is that!

 I would often joke that Hemingway gave it to me or that Ionesco’s play was named after my Rhino."

Jim Haynes, Paris:  September 8, 2014


1.  Ernest Hemmingway's book, 'Green Hills of Africa', written in 1935, gives an account of how Hemmingway killed a Rhino in the Rift Valley, Tanzania

2. The title of Eugène Ionesco's play, written in 1959, is 'Rhinoceros'.  This play is about the inhabitants of a small, provincial French town who all turned into rhinoceroses.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: September 9, 2014




John Brindle

Trinity, Edinburgh


University Developments

"In 1962 the University, in an act of urban vandalism, started demolishing the east side of George Square prior to building the Robertson and Appleton Towers.

The University then went on to demolish the hostels and only the west side was saved more or less intact.

The North side had George Watsons Ladies School which was separate from the boys school in those days."

Neighbouring Buildings

"As one went from Charles Street northwards, there were some notable establishments, such as :

Hall and Woolpack Bars

Bryce's Bookshop

Parker's Store."

John Brindle, Trinity, Edinburgh:  September 8, 2014




Peter Stubbs


George Watson's Ladies' College

On the north side of George Square

The building that once housed George Watson's Ladies College is still standing.  It has now become part of the University's Psychology Department.

Here are a couple of recent photos of the building, taken from just inside the main door.
Please click on them to enlarge them.

     The former George Watson's Ladies College at 7 George Square - Now University of Edinburgh Psychology Dept ©

      The former George Watson's Ladies College at 7 George Square - Now University of Edinburgh Psychology Dept ©

I've also taken more photos of this building, both interior and exterior.  I intend to add them to the EdinPhoto web site, but don't know yet when I'm going to find the time to add them to the site.

Parker's Store

Here is a photo of Parker's Store and the nearby  The photo was taken in 1956 when there was a fire in the flat above Parker's Store.  That's a few years before the period that John Brindle remembers above.

Please click on this photo to enlarge it.

A fire in the flat above Parker's Store, Bristo Street, 1956 ©

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 8, 204




Allan Dodds

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

Thank you to Allan Dodds who wrote

George Heriot's School

"When I was a pupil at George Heriot's School we used to hold a joint Burns Supper with girls from George Watson's Ladies College as I recall it."

Edinburgh University

"Many years later, when I attended Edinburgh University, our Psychology lectures took place in Roxburgh Street and the Pleasance.  The George Square Department came after my time there.

The Uni has much to answer for architecturally for the desecration of George Square, once a jewel in Edinburgh's crown and an ornament to the city.  David Hume, who was passed over as Professor of Philosophy in his day, is commemorated by a ghastly high rise tower that Hume himself would have despised."

Allan Dodds, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England:  September 11, 2014




John Martin

South Northamptonshire, England

Thank you to  John Martin who wrote:

Edinburgh University

Student Theatre

"I've been investigating the history of Edinburgh University Student Theatre and searching for old photos.

-  The earliest written records I've found are from 1850.

-  The earliest photo that I've found was taken in 1889 of the Union Dramatic Company.  The photo is signed but I cannot identify the signature.

-  The photographic record is thin and patchy for the first hundred years, but from 1946 I have contacts with people who are still alive, several of whom have very rich collections of material.

Early Photos

"I've searched magazines and newspapers.  I found these early photos, all published in 'The Student' magazine - a magazine that became a lot less lavish with its photos from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Here are some of the early photos that I found in 'The Student.  They were taken by

-  Alex Ayton, 1899

-  JCH Balmain, 1900

-  Claude Low, 1906

-  FP Gibson, 1907


The Early Photographers


Alex Ayton

Alex Ayton who (above) would have been the Edinburgh professional photographer Alex Ayton Jun.  He was the son of Londonderry photographer, Alex Ayton Sen.

He had photographic studios at 1 Hanover Street, Edinburgh from 1875, then at Bruntsfield.  The Bruntsfield studio continued in business until 1940, but Alex died suddenly in 1894, shortly after being elected President of Edinburgh Photographic Society.

Please click here for details of:

-   Alex Ayton and his family.  (He had 11 children.) 
This page also has links to some of his photos.

Titles of Lectures given by Alex Ayton to Edinburgh Photographic Society in the 1880s and 1890s.


JCH Balmain

James C H Balmain was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1853 of Scottish parents. He died, aged 84, on 23 June 1937 in Edinburgh.

Balmain worked for the pioneering photographer James G Tunny for several years, then established his own photographic studios at West End,  Edinburgh, in 1886.  The company remained in business until 1958 when it was absorbed into the business of ER Yerbury.

Please click here for further info onJames C H Balmain, including links to some of his photos.


Claude Low

Claude Low was a member of the Low family of professional photographers.

The family had photographic studios in Edinburgh and Portobello at various dates between 1868 and 1921.


FP Gibson

I don't know anything about the 4th photographer mentioned above, FP Gibson.  He was not a professional photographer with  studio in Edinburgh, and I have not come across him in my research into the history of Edinburgh Photographic Society.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  November 1, 2014

1906 Photo

This is one of the photos mentioned above - a photo by Claude Low, taken in 1906.

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to John Martin, South Northamptonshire, England

EPS Members

Alex Ayton and JCH Balmain (above) and  Baird and Drinkwater, who also took photos of the University Student Theatre, were all members of Edinburgh Photographic Society.

Drinkwater seems to have been quite a character, very much in demand for ‘Smokers’ – a sort of Edwardian student cross between an DIY cabaret and a karaoke session!


"Do any of your old family photo albums, personal photo collections, etc. include any photos of student theatricals at Edinburgh University between 1850 and 1945, or do you have any old theatre programs.

I'm interested in performances put on by:

-  Theatre, Review and Opera societies.

 Groups, such as the English Literature, German, French and Classics societies.

 Groups such as the Women’s Debating Society, the Indian Society and the Jewish Society.

 Any of the evangelical societies that are known to have put on the occasional play.

John Martin, South Northamptonshire, England:  October 27+28+30, 2014

Reply to John Martin?

If you have any photos or other information that you think might be of interest to John, please email me to let me know, then I'll pass on his email address to you.

Thank you:

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 31, 2014




John Martin

South Northamptonshire, England

Thank you to  John Martin who read about -  Parker's Store this page then read about  Bristo Street elsewhere on the EdinPhoto web site.  (The Bristo Street page also includes recollections of Parker's Store.)

This reminded John of one of the flats that he lived in while studying at Edinburgh University.

John wrote:

Student Accommodation

Salisbury Green  +  Warrender Park Road  +  Bristo Street

"I was a student at Edinburgh University from 1959 to 1965. After a year in Salisbury Green hostel and another year in a shared top flat in Warrender Park Road, we discovered that there were a couple of flats at 32 Bristo Street each going for, I think, £100 or £150!

Deal with Edinburgh University

"When we began to make serious inquiries into this, the University said that they wanted to buy them.  They pointed out to us that the roof-space was utterly riddled with wood-worm, which would be a serious liability.

The University suggested that we should let them buy the two flats, then rent them to us for a nominal £50 a year (which included the rates!).

So four of us took the second floor flat and two of us took the smaller top flat. They were both in terrible condition so we redecorated them throughout (paint probably from Parkers!)  and plumbed in our own shower, and shared the cooking.

It had to be the best student accommodation deal ever!  I don’t know when the last student left No. 32, but it was well after I left Edinburgh.

Parker's Store

A fire in the flat above Parker's Store, Bristo Street, 1956 ©

"Parker's was absolutely essential to setting up the flats – e.g. they had a great line in very cheap carpeting (you either got red with black speckles or blue, ditto).

Looking at the photo of the fire (above) and a Map 1 of the area, found on this page of the EdinPhoto web site I've been trying to work out exactly where Parker's store was.

John added:

"I've now now had feedback from my colleagues, who agree:

-  The fire photo (above) is looking SE down Bristo Street.

-  The fire-engine on the right is at the N end of Charles St.

-  The west end of Marshall Street is just visible on the left.

I've now annotated the map (below) to show the position of Parker's store:


Around Bristo Street:     Map showing shops and pubs, including Parker's Store

Map of the area around Bristo Street, showing the location of Parker's store

©  Thank you to Neil Lawrence, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh for allowing me to reproduce this map
from the 1950s on which he has marked the Argyll Arms and the Empire Palace Bar
Thank you also to John Martin for annotating this map to show the location of Parker's store.

Pub  +  Butcher

The pub shown on the map to the south of Parkers was 'The Gluepot’ – of which I have no memory at all, even though it was opposite No. 32, and next door to the Walker's Butcher which I remember clearly!   Memory is so fallible!"

Walker's used to have spectacular arrays of hanging carcasses.

I recall going there on New Year’s Day, and watching with horror as the very drunk butcher swung his extremely sharp chopper to cut up a carcass, with one hand stabilizing the carcass just beside where the chopper was falling. But years of skill seemed enough to overcome the alcohol."


"The other essential to setting up our flats was the auctioneer across the other side of Marshall Street – I still have a set of four kitchen chairs bought there for around £1 10s for all four.

We bought all sorts of things from the auctions,including a grand piano! It had been used in a theatre so was very battered, but it still played well. We must have maddened the folk in the flats above and below."

The Paperback Bookshop

    Photograph taken in Edinburgh, 1960  -  Where is it? ©

"The Paperback bookshop was round the corner – and in those days the rhino head was still in good repair."

John Martin, South Northamptonshire, England:  November 2, 2014 (2 emails)


Edinburgh University

Recollections and Photos

Student's Life

Rectorial Battle Day

Student's Rag Week



Recollections  -  More Pages

Recollections  -   Contributors