A cat in Cockburn Street checks out anther feline in a shop window in July 1954.
A cat in Cockburn Street checks out anther feline in a shop window in July 1954.

Edinburgh's Cockburn Street: 12 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s showing life in the picturesque city centre thoroughfare

The serpentine street was created to link the High Street with Waverley Station – and there was plenty going on there over five decades ago.

Cockburn Street was constructed in the Capital’s Old Town in 1856, named after the recently-deceased Scottish lawyer, judge and literary figure Lord Cockburn.

He was an early proponent of city improvements that would not damage or obliterate Edinburgh’s history – developments such as Cockburn Street – and the judge’s head can still be seen carved on 1 Cockburn Street, currently used as as offices for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Prior to Cockburn Street, Waverley Station was only accessible by a steep and narrow lane from the High Street.

The new street was constructed by the building firm Peddie & Kinnear in the shadow of the rear of the 12-storey City Chambers, built in 1761.

The majority of the alleys and closes that run off the street date back to medieval times and were effectively sliced in half by the new thoroughfare.

The street came to international attention when it was used for a scene in the Marvel superhero film ‘Avengers: Endgame’, and also starred in Scottish features ‘Trainspotting 2’ and ‘Hallam Foe’.

Over the last century it has become home to many much-loved independent speciality shops, including fashion and entertainment retailers, as well as a mix of popular pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Here are 12 pictures of Cockburn Street more than half a century ago.

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