Princes Street  -  Looking West  -  A crowd and trams on a wet day

Trams and crowds in Princes Street.  When was this photograph taken and what was the occasion?

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to John Stewart, Livingstone, West Lothian, Scotland


When was this Photo Taken?

Do you know when this photograph may have been taken, and what was the occasion that brought out these crowds?

If you can help to answer these questions, please e-mail me.


Answer 1

Royal Visit around 1946?

Thank you to Douglas Beath, now living in Tasmania, Australia, for another of his well researched replies.  The reply below gives several hints for dating other photographs of Princes Street.  Douglas wrote:

The Evidence

A difficult one, in the absence of motor vehicles and shop fronts.

However, from recollections and Hunter's book:

1.  Trams don't have white paint all round floor level for visibility in wartime black-out.

2.  Street lamps appear to be fully restored, not with "dim-out" skirt of near war's end.

3. Tram's lowest side panel is cream coloured:  wooden cars had this changed to maroon from 1946, fairly rapidly I think.

4. Street lamp brackets are the old small ones which were replaced by long high north-south ones about 1950.

5. Tram loading islands too are the old small ones, before rebuilding in 1951.

6.  Frederick Street tram junction was lifted in 1952.

7.  Tram carries no adverts, which started in 1952.

8.  I doubt if such a large distraction would have been staged during the war, and the absence of flags suggests it was shortly after war's end while rationing (including of clothes) still prevailed.  Yet surely the shops had old flags for their several poles ?


I suggest (without direct evidence) that it could have been the King & Queen's visit about 1946.  I remember the entire school lined up along Regent Road.  I don't remember rain but maybe it had eased, hence the willing crowd in Princes Street.

Also, as trams are still coming through, the photo would have been taken well before the royal passage.  The royal car passed us so quickly we hardly had time to draw breath to cheer. 

The road was immediately reopened and the first vehicle through was a ramshackle lorry laden with potatoes.  Our cheering must have echoed off Arthur's Seat ! 

Douglas Beath,       Burnie,  Tasmania,        May 2005


Answer 2

First Edinburgh Festival?

Thank you to George P Murray who wrote:


"The tramway evidence sent in already is all accurate but I think the ivory rocker panels lasted on some wooden cars till say 1948.  The trams in that condition could be from the late 1930's as well as post-war.

I don't think it is a royal occasion as the kids would have had paper flags to wave at the least.  How about the first Edinburgh festival?  Was there a parade?  The weather is certainly up to festival standard!! and it is summer time going by the trees."

George P Murray:  January 30, 2006


Unfortunately, 'Answer 3' seems to have vanished

Answer 4

Orange Order Parade?

Thank you to John Stewart for adding the following comment to the EdinPhoto Guest Book.

John wrote:

Orange Order Parade?

"Re the photograph I sent you of Princes Street with the crowd awaiting what seems to be a procession of a sort, it has just occurred to me what it might have been.

In 1948 or 1949, an Orange Order parade took place in Edinburgh that was to be the biggest in Scotland, ever.  It would be marching on both sides of Princes Street. I remember I was returning from a BB summer camp when it took place.

There was a reported incident that a tram driver had been assaulted for driving too close to the parade.  Maybe this was the occasion, for the dress wear in the picture was typical for the time, and obviously no flags were draped from shop fronts for the Walk."

John Stewart, Livingstone, West Lothian, Scotland: August 5, 2007

I've searched 'The Scotsman' archives for 1946-49, but have not been able to find the date of this parade, or any account or photograph of  in 'The Scotsman'.

Peter Stubbs:  August 7, 2007


Answer 5


Thank you to Tony Henderson, formerly of Edinburgh, now living in Edinburgh for adding this message to the EdinPhoto Guest Book.

Tony wrote:

Orange Order Parade?

"On the picture of Princes Street - if it was the Orange Order Parade, it was 1951.  I remember the date as I had to cross through the parade at the Waverley steps.  I had been recalled from the Air Force and was in uniform."

Tony Henderson, Canada: August 9, 2007


Answer 6


Here is a photograph of the Orange Order Procession in Princes Street in July 1951.

Please click on the thumbnail image below to read a brief account of this march from the Edinburgh Evening News.

   Looking west along Princes Street from the East End  -  1959

Peter Stubbs: August 10, 2007


Answer 7

Royal Visit or Pipers?

Thank you to Sheila McGregor, France (formerly Edinburgh) who wrote:

Visit by the Royal Family?

"Could the wet event be a visit by the Royal Family, perhaps Elizabeth and Philip after their wedding? 

The only other thing I remember was a parade of 1,000 pipers, but don't know when that was."

Sheila McGregor, France:  November 26, 2007

I've had a look at those two suggestions.

1.   Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip married on November 20, 1947.  I believe that their first Royal Visit to Edinburgh after the marriage was a 3-day visit beginning March 1, 1949.

I cannot find any mention of a Royal Parade along Princes Street during that visit.

2. There have been several 'Marches of 1,000 Pipers' through Edinburgh.  The earliest I have found was around 1955/56.  This seems a few years too late, based on the clues in Answer 1 above.

Peter Stubbs: November 26, 2007


Answer 8

Royal Visit around 1946?

Thank you to Sheila McGregor who added:

"I distinctly remember King George VI and the Queen driving along Princes Street, perhaps soon after the end of the War.

But wonder if they would have cleared the entire road for them   -  not that there was much to clear in the 1940s."

Sheila McGregor:  November 27, 2007

Answer 9

Not the Royal Visit, 1946

Thank you to George Nossiter  who wrote:

Royal Visit to Edinburgh

"Your  photo revived  some memories for me. In 1946, I was serving in the RAF and was

In late summer 1946, while serving in the RAF and stationed at RAF Leuchars, I became part of  a large detachment detailed to line the route in Princess St. for the visit of King George 6th, the Queen, and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret."

RAF Presence

"After an intensive period of training, and a  dress   rehearsal visit to Edinburgh, we   finally took part in the event, which I think would have been in late August.  Your photo shows no sign of a  military presence  along the route.

We marched along Princess St. and took up our positions long before the  event, which casts doubt on this being a photo from that particular time.  Neither do I recall any rain that day.  This I would have remembered ,as we wore no protective clothing."

George Nossiter:  February 17, 2008

Answer 10

Royal Visit, 1946?

Thank you to M Thomson  who wrote:

Trams and crowds in Princes Street.  When was this photograph taken and what was the occasion?


"The white dots on the far side of the street could possibly be the small paper flags that were sold prior to the Royal Family visit in 1946.

I still remember my mother being upset with me coming home with two paper flags for six pence.  She thought they should have been cloth as previously noted.

We all waited a long time, and the vehicles with the Royal Family went by at a high rate of speed.  I doubt they saw my white flag."


"The tram in the picture looks like a converted cable car (- low number, possibly 43 or 49) lacking gold trim on the front, as most were.  All converted cable cars were scrapped by 1947, prior to the first Edinburgh Festival

Street Lamp Brackets

"ANSWER 1 ABOVE, ITEM 4:  The street lamp brackets mentioned are the old narrow ones.

ANSWER 6:  This picture of the 1951 Orange Order Parade clearly shows the new widely extended light bar atop each pole.

CONCLUSION:  Even though the weather and crowd look similar, the two pictures clearly show two different parades in two different time frames.  That's why I think the picture in question is more likely to be of the 1946 Royal Visit."

M Thomson, Liverpool, New York, USA:  August 30, 2008

Answer 11

Royal Visit, 1946?

It's over two years since anybody last sent any message about this procession along Princes Street.  However, Vicki Jones  has now written.

Trams and crowds in Princes Street.  When was this photograph taken and what was the occasion?

No Bunting

"I agree with Douglas Beath's conclusion in 1 above.
 i.e. possibly 1946.

I cannot see any form of bunting, which I would have thought would have been somewhere for a Royal Visit, even just after the war.

Vicki Jones, Australia:  February 15, 2011

Answer 12

Orange Parade


51st Highland Division

Thank you to Bob Sharp, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, who wrote:

Trams and crowds in Princes Street.  When was this photograph taken and what was the occasion?

Parades held following the War

"Parades with large numbers of spectators in Princes Street, at around the time that this photo was probably taken, were were the Orange Parade and the Parade of the 51st Highland Division.

I believe that the 51st Highland Division  Parade in Edinburgh was not long after the end of the War.  Many of the troops had served in the Desert, I think with the 8th Army.

As for the date of the parade, I believe that at around the same time the same troops paraded at Hampden Park when a Tournament called the Victory Cup was being held with Hibs and other teams competing."

Bob Sharp, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada




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