Nostalgia: Lights, action...and elephants!

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Shandwick Place hasn’t exactly been looking itself in recent years.

But with an end in sight at last for the tram works and the street due to reopen in October, its latest transformation will soon be complete.

The Elephant Parade from Billy Smart's circus makes its way along Shandwick Place en route to Murrayfield in Edinburgh, June 1966

The Elephant Parade from Billy Smart's circus makes its way along Shandwick Place en route to Murrayfield in Edinburgh, June 1966

Some of course, may have doubted they would ever see a tram travel down the street.

What is certain is that it is unlikely you will see anyone travelling by elephant, even if it does seem like an effective way to beat the gridlock.

Shandwick Place became a trunk road in June 1966, as a parade from Billy Smart’s circus passed through on its way to Murrayfield Stadium.

There was a more familiar scene in 1959 when the Evening News reported on the chaos caused by a new traffic light system.

Motorists were said to have been “blinded by science” as a ten-light control went into operation. It was the first time that the free flow of traffic had been controlled by lights rather than a police officer, and according to the report: “The conglomeration of light was so confusing for many motorists that at one point during the morning three policemen had to redirect drivers who had ‘misread’ the lights.”

Shandwick Place of course has an eclectic array of shops and businesses, and the Evening News visited one, the House of Bewlay tobacconists in January 1971.

The manager there was reporting a 25 per cent increase in the sale of “ladies pipes”. Apparently, sales rocketed after the publication of a Royal College of Physicians report which warned about the 
dangers of smoking.

A pipe was seen at that time as a less harmful way of smoking and retailers responded with a range of designs to attract women, including one studded with imitation ­diamonds.