Childhood Memories of Lost Edinburgh
I was born in 1962 in The Royal Infirmary Lauriston Place. I grew up in Currie, Midlothian but Edinburgh took over in 1975, something we were quite happy about. I remember in the late 60s the number 52 SMT bus took us into town when we didn't have the car. The buses then were all routemaster types that you jumped on the back and paid a conductor. The bakers van that stopped in the street was exciting to me as I always got something nice. You entered in the back and there were cakes and bread on the shelves - strange considering there was a bakers across park from the house. Then there was the onion Johnny a man called Yves who would cycle round the doors with strings of onions. My mum always chatted to him and I learned a lot about Brittany and France from him over the years. There is an interview with him from 2003 on the BBC Scotland website.
My grandmother and grandfather lived in Murieston Terrace Dalry and we would visit them weekly. I remember being taken to see Jungle Book at the Tivoli cinema in Gorgie Road - it became a bingo hall and is now a church called Destiny. In the early 70s I was walking along Gorgie Road on my own and a woman pulled me into the Co op while mobs of football supporters came rampaging along the road. My grandparents flat was in a tenement and was one bedroom with a bath but the kitchen was in the living room by the window with a cooker in the cupboard. This was luxury compared to my other grandma who lived in Yeaman Place North Merchiston. She too had a one bedroom tenement flat but she had no bathroom or shower room just a WC. She had a coal fire in the living room and in the box room was piles of coal. She used to wash at the kitchen sink which like my other grandparents was in the living room by the window. Her flat remained like this until her death in 1976.
As a child shopping never interested me but there was one department store I loved to go to and that was Goldbergs at Tollcross. It was like entering another world. It was a big 5 storey white building built in 1960 with 2 big copper statues at either side of the main doors. A carpark lay in front and as you walked up the steps to the front door they opened automatically - this was fantastic to me. Then there were escalators that whizzed you to each floor - I remember being told off by a man for playing on them. All the carpets had big Gs on them and the front door handles were big Gs too. At christmas they had a childs area where you could be left to let your parents buy your gifts. They had a carousel and you could go on it as often as you wanted. But the best thing about Goldbergs was the cafe on the top floor with the roof garden outside. They had birds in aviarys and I seem to remember a parrot that talked to you. I also seem to remember a monkey there but maybe my memory is playing tricks. There were statues and fountains and a great view across the city. Sadly the shop couldn't compete with increasing competition and it was pulled down in 1990. The area is now flats and a bank building - such a shame.
My Granny on Goldberg's Roof garden 1964
Another early memory that must have been the late 60s was of sitting in the car and looking out at a scene of total devastation - rubble everywhere. I was in St James Square just after it was knocked down to make way for the St James Centre. Another area I remember being knocked down was one side of St Leonards Street. Portobello outdoor swimming pool complete with wave machine was another place I loved to go but that too has disappeared and is now tennis courts - such a pity.
The weather in the winter of 1962 was quite extreme I believe. It snowed in the autumn and didn't disappear until March. I remember in 1973 the Water of Leith froze and me my mum brother and dog all walked on it. According to my diary it was December 1st. Of course around that time the media was predicting a new ice age with global cooling. That seemed to come to an end with the summer of 1976!
Memories of my Edinburgh Youth - Part 1
Late 1970s Teenage Punk Rocker
Memories of my Edinburgh Youth - Part 2