Nostalgia: Cowgate

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IT is loved by some and loathed by others, yet is one of the Capital’s oldest and most fascinating areas.

With its narrow wynds and gloomy passages, the Cowgate can be both exciting and daunting for the thousands of people who make their way through it every year.

Children from Cowgate Nursery School head out for a walk on George IV Bridge in 1958. Picture: TSPL

Children from Cowgate Nursery School head out for a walk on George IV Bridge in 1958. Picture: TSPL

Yet few can dispute the rich history of the 15th century neighbourhood, from its days as a busy thoroughfare on market day, to those when it served as a notorious slum for the city’s Irish community.

Now the Cowgate is entering another stage in its history as bosses behind the £35 million SoCo development this week promised to breathe new life into the area with their 257-bed hotel complex.

Under construction on the 2002 Cowgate fire site, the project will help to “gentrify” the area, by attracting quality retailers to the district.

It is a far cry from the days when the Argyle Brewery was one of the neighbourhood’s main attractions. Pictured here, mounted police back in January 1954 make their way past the brewery, where hundreds of locals spent their working day, for a morning exercise.

Gone are the days, too, when workers at Moores Modern Methods Ltd would head to the Cowgate, spending their days manufacturing loose leaf books, many printing ruled pages for accounting books, as shown here in 1959.

But one thing that has not changed in the neighbourhood is the fascination it holds for tourists and history enthusiasts, who are drawn in their thousands every year to discover more about its exciting past.

Such is the case for those who are desperate to learn of any ghostly goings on in the Old Town by taking to the Cowgate for a late night mystery tour.