Pram shop turns undertakers on Leith ‘death mile’

There will soon be six undertakers on a one-mile stretch of Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson
There will soon be six undertakers on a one-mile stretch of Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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IT brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “from the cradle to the grave”. For just as Morningside has its coffee mile, Leith has its undertakers – after traders told how an “explosion” of funeral parlours had turned it into a “mecca for death”.

Almost a fifth of all city undertakers now occupy a one-mile stretch in the historic port.

And business is booming – with Barclay’s undertakers expanding by taking over the old Pram Centre on Great Junction Street.

The growing trend was bolstered by the fact that Barclay’s newly vacated parlour on Taylor Street is being taken over by David Deely – another funeral director.

One local undertaker said he and his counterparts risked overtaking the vast number of barber shops in the area.

Alex Wilson, chair of the Leith Business Association, said it was “very strange” that there were six parlours in such a short distance. He said: “Obviously nobody opens up a business of that kind unless they know there’s a definite market for it. It’s a phenomenon. We might as well be light-hearted about it because we all have to croak at some point.

“I honestly don’t have an answer about why. There must be enough business. I am all in favour of businesses opening up in Leith. It’s the most densely populated area of the city and of Scotland – given we have more people, there will be more people dying.

“We have become a mecca for death. It’s very strange.”

The Evening News reported in April 2012 that a 58th coffee shop had opened up in Morningside in a one-mile stretch.

Mark Porteous, whose firm Porteous Independent Funeral Directors has five city branches, including one on Leith Walk, believes Leith could become just as infamous for its undertakers.

“I’m surprised. I know it’s a competitive industry and this is happening all over the country, but in the Leith area especially I am astonished at the amount of funeral directors,” he said.

“I’m surprised that from a social point of view, that people in Leith are not thinking, why are there so many funeral directors in such a short 
distance? Between Leith Town Hall at the end of Ferry Road, and Duke Street, there’s six funeral directors.

“That’s an astonishing amount really for such a short area. I think if any more come down, there will be more funeral directors than barbers.”

The large Pram Centre on Great Junction Street closed around two years ago, moving to a store on Jane Street Industrial Estate. The premises is now undergoing a complete refit for its vastly different use, before an expected opening date of next Monday.

A spokesperson for Dignity Funerals, which runs Barclay’s undertakers, said: “We took the opportunity to look for larger premises that would allow us to further improve the high standard of facilities and service that we provide to our clients.”