What Did Edinburgh Look Like in the 1860s?

  • March 3, 2015
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Take a look for yourself. What a stunning old photo of the city. Make sure you click on the image below for a larger, more detailed version. It’s pretty amazing.

Edinburgh in the 1860s

Source: National Gallery of Ireland 

Below is the amazing research done by Flickr user Rayonick. Seriously amazing.

Mossman & Watson (Ham Curers and Provision Merchants) had their business at no 10 until 1865-66 when they moved to no 16. They took over from William Pringle, corn merchants. As the image shows them at 16, the image must be later or equal to 1865.

To the far right of the image, can been seen No 24 with J Spence name above the door and the words SADDLES AND COLLAR MAKER. Joseph Spence was a saddler who was at no 24 for many years.

Also on the far right can be seen letters “Wm HAD” this refers to William Haddow of the Clydesdale Inn, no 26. He owned it from about 1860 to 1866/67. Gavin Halliday took over from 1866/67 to 1869/70. Halliday did not remove the HADDOW sign but put a new sign up above the HADDOW but in the centre of the building with his name on it. William Caldwell took over in 1870/71. He did replace the HADDOW sign with Wm CALDWELL.

Robert Dickson Refreshment Rooms, N.B.R. (northern section) North British Railway appeared in 1866-67. First mention at 10 Grassmarket is 1867-68.

Hence the image must be around 1867-70.

In 1867-68 Grassmarket:

26 Gavin Halliday, Clydesdale Inn
26 John Howison
26 Wni Gillies
24 Joseph Spence, Saddler
22 Mrs Williamson, Tobacconist
18 and 20 Gladstone Close, Alex Brownlee.Stabler – house 20
16 Mossman and Watson, Ham Curers and Provision Merchants
14 Brown’s Close, Mrs Barclay
12 and 14 John Thomas Ireland, Black Bull
10 Robert Dickson, Refreshment rooms
8 Crawford’s Close, P Groan. Spirit Dealer
6 J Lister, victual dealer — house. 36
4 Adam Wilson, horse dealer
2 Alexander Anderson, confectioner

The first mention of the Beehive inn was in 1868 when Brownlee was registered as Beehive Inn (but he still had the stabling business at 20). Today there is a stone plaque on the building bearing the date 1868. It has been wrongly assumed, on the Grassmarket web site and comments on this image, that this is the date the present building was built but I believe this is the date it was designed. I’m looking at another image where no 18 to 22 is the same as the above image but the Former Soldiers’ Married Quarters.(1873) can be seen in the background. Hence the present Beehive building wasn’t built until after 1873.

In the above image the Gladstone Close sign is seen as the 20 between the words Gladstone and Close. In later images the words Gladstone Close are joined together in a semi-circle with 20 in the centre. I can see another image where Halliday has taken over the Clydesdale Inn but the Gladstone Close sign has the old version. So change must have been made after 1866.