‘On Saturdays Leith Walk jumped, it was so alive’

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WITH the completion of the trams project edging ever closer, Gladys Johnson, 76, remembers catching them the first time around.

The hospital volunteer, who now lives at Penicuik, has fond memories of waiting to get a ride on Princes Street.

“They were absolutely brilliant. In those days, in the 1950s, there wasn’t the traffic there is now,” she says.

“My memories are of the beautiful shops there were on Princes Street and a lack of empty stores. It wasn’t as busy as it is now, the tourist trade has really opened up.

“I remember waiting for the tram at a stop by Hanover Street and getting the smell of flowers wafting from Princes Street Gardens.

“They certainly haven’t changed much and are still beautiful today.

“On a Saturday, if you went down Leith Walk it jumped, it was so alive.

“There was Fairleys dance hall and the Black Bull, which is still there now.

“It had lots of furniture stores and Jerome’s the ­photographers was where the Costa shop is now I think.”

Gladys remembers her mum, Mary Copeland, ­telling her about when she used to drive the trams during the First World War.

“I have a photo of my mother, who was a conductress on the trams, when it used to run from Pilrig to Trinity,” she says. “My father was at sea, he was with the minesweepers. When the men went to war they asked if she would like to be a driver on the trams.

“She drove the cars all the times while the war was on. Of course when they came back she had to forego her job but she certainly enjoyed it.”