The district to the east of Leith Walk and south of London Road




Ron Goldie
Peine, Germany

-  'Black Hand Gang'

-  Guiders


John Simpson
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

-  Thornton's

-  Edinburgh Buses


Ronald Stout

-  Easter Road

-  Hillside Street

-  Our Flats

-  Shops

-  Television

-  Comics

-  Bonfires

-  Games

    -  Hillside Crescent Gardens

    -  Calton Hill

-  Cinemas

    -  The Salon

    -  The Regent

-  Football Matches

-  Work after School

-  School Lunch Breaks

-  Church

-  Car Journeys

-  Athletics

-  Photos




Ron Goldie

Peine, Germany

Thank you to Ron Goldie who wrote:

'Black Hand Gang'

"I was brought up in Elm Row at the top of Leith Walk, between London Road and Montgomery Street. I am the oldest of five brothers.

Some people used to call us the 'Black Hand Gang' for some strange reason. It might have been because we were always manky. I think with five boys, my mother had a problem trying to keep us up to a reasonable standard of cleanliness."


"Our first mode of transport was the forerunner to the formula 1 racing car, the 'Guider'. It was a self-built vehicle, built from anything we could get hold of and propelled by kneeling on it and shoving it along from behind with one of your feet.

 The prototypes were made of a few planks of wood, a cross-member whittled down, a piece of string which was our steering and four ball bearings for wheels. Where we stole the ball bearings from I cant remember, but they did the job. The only problem was that you could hear us speeding down Elm Row from a mile off!

We then progressed and modernized our "Guider", by stealing prams and removing the wheels  -  similar to today's trend, but today its with cars. Times haven't changed so much after all, have they?

 Anyway, our suped-up vehicles were now silent and we rocketed down Elm Row bowling over anything and anyone in our path. The only problem was that we never did devise ways of stopping them, nor a method of self-propelling those vehicles back up the hill. We had to walk, dragging this thing behind us and start again from the top.

 Mind you, those self-built thingys turned out to be useful to our parents too. We were told to pick up the shopping  or drive it to Abbeyhill goods railway station for a bag of coal. Not so bad getting there, but, the journey back was a bit heavy going.

So much for the 'guider'.  I never knew why it was called that. It was never really guided, just aimed down a hill."

Ron Goldie:  August 6 2009, Peine, Germany:  August 6, 2009



John Simpson

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Thank you to John Simpson who wrote:


"My story begins in the late-1930s when my grandparents lived in Hillside Street, off London Road.

We arrived by train from Aberdour and either took a tram or walked, depending on the weather.  From 1950 to 1956, I worked at Thornton's in Princes Street."

Edinburgh Buses

"I travelled widely throughout the city by bus and tram and was very familiar with the route system.

I attended night classes at Bellvue school.  If I was there early,  I would walk round the bus garage nearby - Central Garage in Annandale Street - to see anything new going on. I still enjoy the Scottish Bus Museum website and visit it often."

John Simpson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada:  August 4, 2009



Ronald Stout


Thank you to Ronald Stout, Denmark, who wrote:

Easter Road

"George VI died in February 1952. I lived at that time at 288 Easter Road and attended Lochend Primary School.  I remember we held two minutes silence in the classroom when the king’s death was announced."

Hillside Street

"By the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, in June 1953, I had moved to Hillside Street and was attending Leith Walk Primary School.  I was about 7 years of age when I moved to Hillside Street and lived there until I was about 15 or 16.

Hillside Street branches off the more prestigious Hillside Crescent, the last outpost of William Playfair’s Eastern New Town project of the 19th century.

The children on the street were more or less divided in two groups:

those born around 1940, the beginning of the war

those, like myself, around 1945-46, at the end of the war."

Our Flat

"I lived in number 23 Hillside Street. There was some subsidence in part of the street.  I remember the hall in our flat sloping so much that you could roll Easter eggs.

We had a cupboard in the hall where we stored coal for the fires – no central heating in those days. In the winter it was necessary to heat the bed with a hot water bottle, undress in the warmth of the living room and run as fast as you could into a heated bed."


"In an age before supermarkets and refrigerators, we had all the necessary shops on or around the street.  At the bottom of Hillside Street, nearest Montgomery Street, on the uneven numbered side of the street, we had a butcher and a greengrocer.  On the opposite corner we had a newsagent and Wilsons grocer shop which retains the name even today.

Round the corner, on Montgomery Street, there was yet another butcher and, I believe, a dairy.

On the corner of Montgomery Street and West Montgomery Place, there was a baker (now a café) and in West Montgomery Place, there was another grocer/greengrocer run by a Pole.

I remember him using tongs, never his fingers, even when we were buying sweets from him."


"There was only one family that had a television, so every day, the children on the street would troop up to see:

-  Children's Hour

-  Andy Pandy

Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men

The Sooty Show, etc."


"I remember buying the first issue of the comic, the Lion, in 1952.  I should have kept it!  The choice was either the Eagle or the Lion, and I was a 'Lion man'.

Later, mostly influenced by my father who had read them as a boy, I progressed to the Hotspur and the Rover.  An occasional Film Fun was also bought by my weekly pocket money."


"Hillside Street was still cobblestones when I moved there, so we had our own Guy Fawkes bonfire, but this ended ended when the cobblestones were replaced by tar.  Our bonfire was subsequently moved to Windsor Street.

From our bay window in the front room we had a great view of the fireworks on Calton Hill."


"I remember, in an age before computers:

-  sliding down Calton Hill on cardboard boxes.

playing cowboys and Indians in London Road Gardens.

-  playing football in Holyrood Park.

Otherwise the street was our playground, unless you made the mistake of playing outside the windows of a music teacher who had her address on Hillside Crescent but windows overlooking Hillside Street. She was the cause of many visits by the local bobby who chased us off the street."

Hillside Crescent Gardens

"At the top of the street, in Hillside Crescent Gardens, was the King’s tree, a huge chestnut tree. One day we decided to throw some chestnuts at the window of the music teacher. This resulted in a visit to my parents by the police.

 I was not at home when they came, but the warning was passed on to me."

Calton Hill

"Calton Hill became very much 'off-limits' in 1953, following the murder of two small girls in the Greenside area at the back of the Playhouse cinema.  I had nightmares for ages afterwards."


"Cinemas were plentiful.  The ones we visited most frequently were:

The Eastway

-  The Salon

-  The Regent

-  The Playhouse."

The Salon

"The Salon had benches in the front rows and an usher kept tracks of when we came in, so at precisely the time when we were about to see the film second time round we were tossed out the back door – to the infamous Greenside area."

The Regent

"At the Regent, if you bought a ticket for the balcony, you turned right up some stairs at the booking office.  On the other hand, if your ticket said the stalls, this meant a longer walk through an underground passageway before getting to, as in all cinemas of the time, a smoke-filled cinema."

Football Matches

"When Celtic or Rangers played at Easter Road the buses from Glasgow were parked as far off as Hillside Street. Often, the drivers would gather in one bus and leave the doors of the other busses unlocked.

The most daring would then sneak on to the busses in search of coins perhaps dropped by the supporters. Sometimes we were lucky – mostly not."

Work After School

To supplement my pocket money I had jobs after school:

The first was a delivery boy for a chemist at the corner of Montgomery Street and Leith Walk.

Later, I was a delivery boy for a grocer shop at the corner of Brunswick Street and Leith Walk.

 Around Christmas and New Year when I delivered a great deal of beer, besides groceries, the tips were 'enormous'.

One year, I remember earning £8 or £9 pounds in tips – probably a week’s earnings for some grownups."

School Lunch Breaks

"Sometimes I met my father for lunch.  School lunch breaks were over an hour, many going home to eat.

I remember you could get a three-course lunch for 1/6, and a little later for 2/6.  A lunch ticket at Broughton Senior Secondary School cost a shilling."


"I was a member of the 8th Leith Boys’ Brigade at Pilrig Church  and attended Sunday School classes at Dalmeny Street Church.  I have many fond memories of those years

 At that time my pocket money was half a crown (2/6d).  I had a penny for the collection at Sunday School. One Sunday I offered up my half crown instead of my penny, entirely by mistake. I was in qualms whether or not to go to the Sunday school teacher to retrieve my pocket money.  I didn’t dare.

The following week was marked by abject poverty combined with a very holier-than-thou feeling of salvation."

Car Journeys

"At the top of Hillside Street lived two bachelor brothers. One collected military swords and helmets; the other provided free haircuts for the boys in the street.

The latter also had an MG, two-seater sports car.  Sometimes he would take two boys for rides in the car, visiting castles and other places of interest. There were no seat belts, and no parents wondering what the man was up to – absolutely innocent, by the way.  It was another world from today with much more freedom.

I suppose there were fewer dangers then, at least on the roads. I can only recall two, or perhaps three cars parked on Hillside Street in the 1950s. Today it’s quite another story."


"Frank Dick, a former athlete, athletic coach etc., etc. lived on Hillside Street.  He was a bit older than me.  I remember him showing me how to be a good goalkeeper and not to stand with open legs when a ball was on its way to the goal.  Time wasted, I’m afraid!"


"Unfortunately, I have no photos from Hillside Street from the 1950s. It would be great if someone did have any, and sent them to the EdinPhoto website."

Ronald Stout, Denmark:  October 15, 2010


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