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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

 

Edinburgh Recollections

Fleshmarket Close

Linking Cockburn Street and Market Street, Old Town, Edinburgh

Question

Pauline Cairns-Speitel
Old Town, Edinburgh

-  The Plowt

Answer 1.

Bob Henderson
Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

-  To Plowter

Answer 2.

Stephen McMahon
Munich, Germany

-  Fruit Market

-  Pet Shop

-  The Scotsman

Answer 3.

Douglas Beath
Tasmania, Australia

-  To Plowter

-  Pet Shop

Answer 4.

Yvonne Cain
New South Wales, Australia

-  Plowt

Answer 5.

Pauline Cairns-Speitel
Old Town, Edinburgh

Dictionaries

Answer 6.

Bob Henderson
Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

-  To Plowter

Answer 7.

Bryan Gourlay
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

-  Change of Use

Answer 8.

Joyce Messer
North Island, New Zealand

-  Plowt

Answer 9.

Bob Wyllie
Brussels, Belgium

-  Plowt

-  Pet Shops

Answer 10.

Eric Gold
East London, England

-  Pet Shop

 

Question

1.

Pauline Cairns-Speitel

Old Town, Edinburgh

Pauline Cairns-Speitel wrote:

'The Plowt'

"I am an Editor who works at Scottish Language Dictionaries.

I have come across the 'The Plowt' as a nickname for Fleshmarket Close in Edinburgh.  I had never heard of this before and, as an Edinburger who thought she knew her city, I was surprised until I spoke to another (not so old) resident of Edinburgh who knew it as Fleshmarket Close where one could go to buy rabbits.

Fleshmarket Close

    Engraving from 'Old & New Edinburgh  -  Fleshmarket Close ©

Here is another reference to it:

'The Plowt'

"Edinburgh's old poultry-market in Fleshmarket-close, which old-timers remember as the Plowt. . . .

Two boys look at rabbits in a corner of the Plowt, the poultry market in Fleshmarket-close."

Daily Express of 9 January 1957

Fleshmarket Close, as I understood it, led to the Fleshmarket in Market Street, but clearly there was some trade going on in smaller animals actually in the close itself."

Question

"Can you, or any of your correspondents, cast any light on this for me?"

Pauline Cairns-Speitel, Scottish Language Dictionaries, 27 George Square, Edin.: August 11, 2008

Answer?

If you'd have any comments for Pauline, please email me, then I'll pass your message on her.

Thank you.    -  Peter Stubbs:  July 17 2008

 

Answer

1.

Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson who replied:

To Plowter

"I don't know about The Plowt, but there is another word 'to plowter' which I have always understood to mean walking about in the mud or similar.

Maybe the old Flesh market close was not very pleasant to walk down.".

Bob Henderson:  Burdiehouse, Edinburgh, August 11, 2008

 

Answer

2.

Stephen McMahon

Munich, Germany

Thank you to Stephen McMahon who replied:

Fruit Market

"Sadly, I have no direct input for Pauline.  However, I spent a lot of my childhood in the area - my father worked in the fruit and vegetable retail and wholesale trade and I accompanied him a lot to Market Street when it was still the site of the fruit market."

Pet Shop

"The only rabbits I saw on Fleshmarket Close in the 1960s and early 1970s were in a small pet shop situated a few yards down from Cockburn Street on the close.  Other than that, the only businesses located there were pubs."

The Scotsman

"The Close also housed the staff entrance to the Scotsman/Evening News when it was still actually printed there. Again, I remember as a boy being sent to the loading bay of the Scotsman to buy the Evening News literally hot off the press - the paper was still warm….."

Stephen McMahon, Munich, Germany, August 12, 2008

 

Answer

3.

Douglas Beath

Tasmania, Australia

Thank you to Douglas Beath who replied:

To Plouter

"My recollections of Fleshmarket Close are insignificant historically, but were part of boyhood in the 1940s and 1950s.

Like Bob Henderson, I'd never known Fleshmarket close  referred to as  'The Plowt',  but remember my mother using the verb "to plouter" (my assumed spelling) as Bob describes."

Pet Shop

"It seemed to me, then, a coincidence that a pet shop was in Fleshmarket Close, but I now realize it was probably the last trace of the close's historical function.

The small west-side shop had puppies in the window at boys' eye-level, always a lure.  Inside was the smell of fresh sawdust on the floor.

-  A mouse cost a shilling.

-  A rat cost two shillings.

-  A guinea pig cost five shillings.

The shopkeeper kindly and unexpectedly refunded me sixpence when, at long-suffering mum's behest, I returned my cute wee mouse!

The shop was run by two middle-aged brothers who were very tolerant of schoolboy browsers!"

Douglas Beath, Tasmania, Australia:  August 12+ 28, 2008

 

Answer

4.

Yvonne Cain

New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Yvonne Cain (née Dorr) for sending this extract from a dictionary. 

Please excuse any mis-typing.  I don't claim to understand all the abbreviations used in the definitions below.  However, all the '19's and '20's presumably  refer to 19th and 20th centuries.

NOTE:  The definition of  'Plowt  3' below seems to answer the question about  Fleshmarket Close, even though the origin is not known.

Yvonne wrote:

"I found this in the Concise Scots Dictionary (editor -in-chief Mari Robinson).  It  was my mum book."

Plowt

1 & c. (plaut also plut plat,&c) plunge or thrust (something) into (a liquid) submerge quickly in.

2. set down suddenly and heavily, plump or slap down

3. fall heavily freq into a liquid la19- now ne per wgt 

4. walk through water or over wet ground squelch along; dabble in water or mud 19 -now sh abd ags

5. of liquids, esp rain fall with a splash, pelt down la19-now shabd ags

1. a noisy fall or plunge esp into water etc; a splash plop 19 now, now sh-ags wgt.

2. a heavy shower or cascade,  a downpour of rain a thunder-plump (thunder)18 now sh ne nec .

3. a clumsy ,blundering person or animal, aclod hopper 20 now mry fif

4. a dull blow, punch ,thump 20 -sh abd KIRN$C a churn operated by a plunger 18- now ork (onomat)

Plowt 2 (plaut) n joc a dish made of meat boiled and jellied in a mould esp potted heid (pot) la20 fif (cf plot1 v1 (3)and next)

Plowt 3 (plaut)n popular name for the Fleshmarket close in Edinburgh  orig the meat market and slaughter-house e20 (unknown)

Plowter&c; plutter&c 19e20 pl(1)euter19-20 ploiter la19-e20, pleiter& c20 ('plautor,' ploiter; ne also 'pjaut-', pleit-;g also 'plut-,'plot-,'plit) v

1. dabble with the hands or feet, usu in a liquid, splash aimlessly in mud or water, wade messily through wet ground19-,

2. work or act idly or aimlessly, potter or fiddle about 19-.

3. fumble about, rummage or grope in the dark 20-, local per-slk 

4. vt make a mess of, spoil (esp a piece of land by bad cultivation)19-, now sh abd  n

1. the act of working or walking in wetness or mud, a splashing about; a (disagreeable) messy task; a blotched job, an exhibition of slovenliness orinefficiency19-

2. a splash, dashing of liquid 19-, now sh ags

3. a wet, muddy spot, a bog, mire19-20 .

4. a sloppy or sticky mess of food etc la19-, local shsw.

5. a messy inefficient worker, a muddler 20-, nowc-y&c of the weather etc weather etc wet, showery rainy, puddly la19-20 (chf sc; frequentative of plowt 1;cf also Du ploetern dabble in water, drudge).

Yvonne added:

"I did not think this information was so long. I hope you can understand this the book.   They have abbreviations for all the dates.

Yvonne Cain (née Dorr), New South Wales, Australia:  August 14, 2008.

That looks like a comprehensive answer for a 'Concise Scots Dictionary'!

-  Peter Stubbs:  August 14, 2008

 

Answer

5.

Pauline Cairns-Speitel

Old Town, Edinburgh

Pauline Cairns-Speitel replied:

Dictionaries

"Thanks for 4 above.  It just shows how circular things can be.  The Concise Scots Dictionary was the first major lexicographical project I worked on .

The Concise Scots Dictionary is a shortened version of the Scottish National Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue so the information from it is already taken from the original source I am quoting from."

Pauline Cairns-Speitel, Old Town, Edinburgh:  August 15, 2008

 

Answer

6.

Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse, Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson who replied:

To Plowter

"I'd like to thank Yvonne for her findings in her mum's dictionary.  I was glad to see plowter described as

'The act of walking in wetness or mud, a disagreeable or messy task etc.'

 As there was no derivation other than onomatopea, my suggestion that the close would be pretty nasty to walk in at the time seems reasonable".

Bob Henderson:  Burdiehouse, Edinburgh, August 11, 2008

 

Answer

7.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay for sending me the comments below about Fleshmarket Close, backed up by large-scale maps of the close, dated 1849-53, 1876-77 and 1893-94.:

Bryan wrote that it was interesting to look at the changes that took place in Fleshmarket Close during the 19th century.

1849-53

"The 1849/53 Ordnance Survey map shows the close was an out and out drinking den lined by pubs on both sides, in front of the flesh and poultry markets – perhaps a place to avoid on your way home of an evening.  This was before Cockburn Street was constructed some time in the 1850s.

The only buildings on Fleshmarket Close named on this map are:

-  EAST SIDE:  3 taverns (at N end) + poultry & veal market  (at S end)

-  WEST SIDE:  tavern, Black Bull Inn, hotel & tavern (all at S end)

1876-77

"By the time the 1876/77map was published, the flesh market seemed to have pushed some of the pubs out of the way, and there was a large fish market at the bottom, adjoining Market Street. Perhaps it was a bit messy underfoot?"

The  buildings on or beside Fleshmarket Close named on this map are:

-  EAST SIDE:  hotel & tavern (N) + flesh market  (large) + poultry market  (small)

-  WEST SIDE:  fish market (in Market Street) + Star Hotel (on corner of Cockburn Street)

1876-77 Map  -  Edinburgh Old Town, Fleshmarket Close ©

1893-94

"By the time the 1893-94 map was published, the flesh and poultry markets are still there, but it is not clear whether the building shared with Market Street still housed the fish market"

The  buildings on or beside Fleshmarket Close named on this map are:

-  EAST SIDE:  public house (S), City Flesh Market ( large)  poultry market (small)

-  WEST SIDE:  2 public houses (half way up the close)

1893-94 Map  -  Edinburgh Old Town, Fleshmarket Close ©

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland:  August 19, 2008

 

Answer

8.

Joyce Messer

North Island, New Zealand

Thank you to Joyce Messer who wrote

'To Plowt'

"My mother used to talk about the rain 'plowting down'.  I wonder if there is a connection between that word and the French 'pleuvoir - rain' (or the Eng 'pluvial' ).

There are many Scottish words that have French connections via Mary Queen of Scots, eg 'tassie' for cup.

I'm not an expert so this might be all nonsense to a lexicographer!"

Joyce Messer, North Island, New Zealand:  August 29, 2008

 

Answer

9.

Bob Wyllie

Brussels, Belgium

Thank you to Bob Wyllie who wrote

'The Plowt'

"When I was a child in the 1940s, I always knew of Fleshmarket Close as the Plout.  That's what my parents called it and that's how, in my mind, I spelled it never having seen the name written.

Pet Shops

There were several pet shops down the length of The Plout then. It had that typical smell of places where many small animals are bedded down on sawdust  -  not unpleasant but very distinctive.

There must have been many more pet shops in the past. My father used to tell me how you could lose your dog at the top of the Plout and then buy him back again from a shop when you got to the bottom.

Bob Wyllie, Brussels, Belgium:  October 12, 2008

 

Answer

10.

Eric Gold

East London, England

Thank you to Eric Gold who wrote

Pet Shop

"I remember a wee pet shop in Fleshmarket Close.  It  was dead opposite the Scotsman Newspaper company.  The chap who ran it had either his twin brother or son working there and they were like two peas out of a pod. They were great and I used to go in regularly.

I bought a ginger kitten thee, when we lived in Craigmillar and he was a great cat.  The shop had a big cage full of rats and I was frightened of them, although they were white and domestic pets. The day I bought Ginger as wee kitten he hissed at the rats (ha ha ha ha) and the owner told me, "He'll be a great rat catcher, mice too." and he was right.  Ginger killed the mice in Craigmillar.  Luckily there were no rats there like we had in Arthur Street.

The owner and his son or brother were great to me and I bought all my pet food from them.  He said, jokingly, "You can have a rat free of charge (ha ha ha ha)."

I would run down the close, past the pub called the Half Way Hoose. I’m sure the pet shop owner came from the Canongate area. I saw him in 1969 when I was on leave from a Cunard cruise liner called 'The Caronia'.  We had a good drink in the Mitre Bar in the Royal Mile and he told me that he'd had enough and was selling up, I wonder what became of the shop. I know it's not a pet shop any more."

Eric Gold, East London:  October 12, 2008

 

More names for Edinburgh Closes

Old Town Closes

 

Edinburgh Photos

Edinburgh 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