George Street

 

Recollections

1.

John Stirling
Currie, Edinburgh

Sanitary Conditions

2.

John Stirling
Currie, Edinburgh

Sanitary Conditions - update

George Street Property

3.

Danny Callaghan
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Parking Meters

Learning to Drive

80 George Street:  SCWS

47a George Street:  Roneo

47b George Street:  Radio Rentals

Recollections

1.

John Stirling

Currie, Edinburgh

Thank you to John Stirling, who has been studying the history of sanitary conditions in some of Edinburgh's housing, for commenting on this topic.

John first commented on the conditions in St Patrick Square in Edinburgh South Side, then sent the following comments about the housing in George Street.

Sanitary Conditions

"I can remember a top flat in George Street that had seven houses (rooms) sharing a sink and a toilet, and worse could be found in Buccleuch Street.

Further back in time it was even more horrendous.  Middle Mealmarket Stair, housed 248 persons and was 'utterly unprovided with either a sink or a water closet'."

John Stirling, Currie, Edinburgh:  October 29, 2009

Recollections

2.

John Stirling

Currie, Edinburgh

Sanitary Conditions  -  Update

When I first read John's comments above, I wondered if the houses that John mentioned might have been in George Square on the South Side of the city, close to Buccleuch Street, rather than in George Street.

However, John assured me that his comments referred to George Street in Edinburgh's New Town.

John explained:

George Street Property

"When I was closing the property in George Street, owned by a Building Society, the Chairman of the Housing Committee indicated that this would be "George Street, Leith", as that was where you found the slums.

I had to point out that there was no George Street Leith any more, following name changes, and that my comments referred to George Street, Edinburgh."

John Stirling, Currie, Edinburgh:  October 30, 2009

Recollections

3.

Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan who wrote:

Parking Meters

"I remember, clearly, the first day that parking meters came into operation in George Street, St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square. 

I think it was in summer 1962.  Maybe someone will have the date."

Learning to Drive

"At that time I worked for the SCWS in 80 George Street.    My pal, Michael Parker, also worked there and was on a day off.   He was learning to drive in his father's Ford Prefect or Popular, lower 'sleek' models and still on provisional license.    He said hew would give me a run up to work at lunchtime.

As we drove along George Street, the place was crawling with police, many with scrambled eggs*** on their hats, and other officials.   All were keen to see how the new-fangled parking meters were working.

As we were about to move off at Hanover street, the gear stick came away in his hand.   Total panic, but Mike managed to get it back in somehow.  Apparently, this was a common fault with this 3-speed gear box."

*** Update

I was not familiar with this expression, so asked Danny Callaghan about it.  He explained:

"The term 'scrambled egg' refers to the fancy braid that senior police officers such as Chief Constable etc. have on the peak of their hat.   The same applies for  army and naval types."

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland: December 8, 2010

 

SCWS

80 George Street

"No. 80 George Street was a grand looking building with with columns outside and, I think, 6 floors high.   It was the furniture and household showroom and warehouse for the SCWS (Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society).

Buyers from the various cooperative shops would come to select items for sale in their local shop, or would give customers a line to come and select what they wanted.  

Customers could not just walk in off the street.  The commissionaire made sure they had been given a line. 

The building has now had its interior totally rebuilt and is home to Cruise and Hugo Boss, etc..

November 2009

    80 George Street  -  Cruise  -  November 2009

I worked there for the SCWS from about 1961 to 1963, before changing to Roneo, another George Street company."

Roneo

47a George Street

"No. 47a George Street was the home of Roneo, Office Duplicators, Office Furniture and Franking Machines.

This building had a very ornate ceiling and in the showroom was a large ornate mirror over what I believe was an Adams fireplace.   I think the ceiling and fireplace and mirror were listed.

The back door of the basement let into Thistle Street Lane, and was where Lyon and Turnbull 'lane sales' were held.

These were a real pain, as we could never get our cars and vans near our back door for all the jumble and  furniture on sale, but it was fun having a rummage.

I worked for Roneo, from this office, from 1963 till about 1974.  Nowadays it's an up-market ladies shop, Hobbs.   They have done a magnificent job of restoring the interior to its former glory."

Driving

"I remember, well, the parking meters and the fights we watched from the showroom, some ending in fists.    Two cars would approach, from either direction and meet in the centre.    Neither driver would give way.  If the police intervened they would make both drivers reverse out and drive off.

I passed my driving test 1965 and came back to the office, all smiles, but soon had that wiped away when one of our salesmen handed me his car keys and said 'Go and move my car off a meter, Danny, and bring to the front door.  This involved a reverse into the traffic.    Being thrown in at the deep end probably was best thing.

He was taking me down to Moir and Baxter where a new Mini van was sitting, waiting on me passing my test.    Some football fans may remember the salesman, Jimmy Thomson.  He played for Hibs in the 1950s."

Radio Rentals

47b George Street

"No. 47b George Street was a very narrow shop.  I could never understand how it came about, as 47a had never been split up.

This was Radio Rentals television shop.  I remember being there, along with a huge crowd, watching man landing on the moon in 1969."

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland: December 8, 2010

 

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