Nostalgia: Chambers, no secrets

A view of the corner of Chambers Street, Edinburgh that is to be demolished, taken May 1968.
A view of the corner of Chambers Street, Edinburgh that is to be demolished, taken May 1968.
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CHAMBERS Street has undergone many transformations over the years.

A vital thoroughfare in the Old Town, it is famously home to the recently revamped National Museum as well as the Sheriff Court and University of Edinburgh buildings.

Former shops on the junction of George IV Bridge

Former shops on the junction of George IV Bridge

The most radical change could be around the corner for the street, with city chiefs discussing plans for pedestrianisation and creating an events space.

As our trawl of the picture archives shows, Chambers Street has long been a traffic bottleneck, with gold-dust parking spaces in the middle of the road in a style more commonly seen in the New Town.

Our main image is a view looking towards Bristo Place in 1968 before the buildings were demolished.

Also long gone on the corner are shops including Hewat of Edinburgh, James Lawrie tobacconist, and Masons Radio and Television.

Those buildings made way for what is now part of the museum, but not before it was a gap site for many years as our picture from August 1978 shows.

The museum itself has been the scene of many memorable exhibitions. In May 1966, excitement was caused by part of space capsule Freedom 7 being lowered into place. It took a squad of workmen more than two hours to install.

Chambers Street is named after William Chambers of Glenormiston, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh who was the main proponent of the 1867 Edinburgh Improvement Act, which gave permission for the street’s construction. He and his brother also established the famous Chambers firm, publishing its first dictionary in 1867.