27/06/2014
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Book review - Edinburgh in the 1950s: Ten Years That Changed a City

3407b4cd-5437-44a7-95c9-621f4c9a904e
A review of Amberley Publishing's 'Edinburgh in the 1950s: Ten Years That Changed a City'.

Edinburgh in the 1950s was a very different place to the city we know today. This was an era when slum housing was still a blight on the city, trams were in everyday use for work or pleasure trips, and nights spent at the pictures or a dance were a weekly treat.

'Edinburgh in the 1950s' explores what it was like to live in the city during this decade, and the book is richly illustrated with archive photographs, many of which are published for the first time. We see locals enjoying the delights of Portobello Pool, where the young Sean Connery did shifts as a lifeguard. And this decade saw the beginnings of Edinburgh's reputation as a festival venue, with delightful images of Princes Street decorated for an early festival, and early memorabilia from the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Whether you grew up in Edinburgh, or enjoyed visits over the years, there's sure to be something to interest you here. The themed chapters cover topics including childhood, transport, days out, shopping and markets. Although Edinburgh is now a huge and thriving city, it's not really so long ago that its fishing heritage was very apparent; the sight of Newhaven fishwives walking to sell their fish at market was a common one; and Edinburgh's last 'fish wife' finally gave up her creel as late as 1976, at the age of eighty.

Perhaps the most appealing chapter is that devoted to childhood - an enjoyable jaunt through days gone by, when it was normal to play out in the street for hours on end, with little risk from traffic. There were even specially designated playstreets, where children could enjoy their games uninterrupted by traffic, which was banned from 4pm until sunset. Also recalled is the old tradition of building bonfires in the streets of the Old Town on 25 May and 5 November. Any unwanted chairs, tables or waste wood was piled high in anticipation of the big day, until such revels were banned by the Corporation in 1961.

This is an enjoyable and evocative read, sure to appeal to anyone with an interest in Edinburgh's fascinating past within living memory.

Edinburgh in the 1950s: Ten Years That Changed a City by Jack Gillon, David McLean and Fraser Parkinson is published by Amberley at £14.99.

Read Jack Gillon's feature on Portobello seaside resort in the 1950s.

Enjoy more nostalgia and memories of bygone Scotland in each issue of Scottish Memories magazine, available from our website.



Back to "Book Reviews" Category

27/06/2014 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

James Stewart Earl of Moray was assassinated - On this day in history

James Stewart, Earl of Moray, regent for James VI, was assassinated by a firearm on 23 January 1570. ...


Scottish MP Joseph Hume was born - On this day in history

Scottish MP Joseph Hume, who founded the memorial to the Scottish Political Martyrs in Edinburgh, was born on ...


Robert the Bruce state sword now on public display in Edinburgh

The state sword of Robert the Bruce is one of several historic treasures which are on display at Bonhams ...


The Brontë sisters, Scotland and Robert Burns

Author Nick Holland explores the fascination of the Brontë sisters for Scotland, and in particular the work ...


Other Articles

Top three accessible visitor attractions in Edinburgh

Saga Magazine presents its top three accessible visitor attractions and things to do in the city of Edinburgh. ...


Stories of remarkable World War One women in the collections of Edinburgh Libraries

On the shelves of libraries and archives everywhere there are hidden lives waiting to be discovered. This ...


Our Red Aunt: rekindling the sparks of firebrand Helen Crawfurd

Dr Adele Patrick of Glasgow Women’s Library tells the story of legendary Scottish suffragette campaigner ...


Scottish theologian George Gillespie was born - On this day in history

Church leader George Gillespie was born on 21 January 1613 in Kirkcaldy.