Four women make their way to work on North Bridge in May 1966.
Four women make their way to work on North Bridge in May 1966.

Edinburgh's North Bridge: These 26 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show how much the busy city street has changed

Linking Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town, North Bridge is one of the Capital’s busiest thoroughfares – and there was plenty going on there half a century ago.

Construction of the original North Bridge technically began in 1763 – the same year the North Loch, which separated the Old from the New Town, was drained – when Lord Provost George Drummond laid the first stone.

But actual building work didn’t start until 1765 and was blighted by problems, with five men people killed when part of the structure collapsed in 1769.

Rebuilding work increased the cost of the bridge significantly and it eventually reopened in 1772, consisting of three central arches.

The current North Bridge was designed by city architect Robert Morham and built between 1894 and 1897 by Sir William Arrol & Co – the same company responsible for the Forth Bridge.

The foundation stone was laid on 25 May, 1896, by the Lord Provost Sir Andrew McDonald, and a war memorial by sculptor William Birnie Rhind memorialising soldiers of the King's Own Scottish Borderers killed between 1878 and 1902 was later added.

Notable buildings on the street (North Bridge can refer to both the bridge and the road that runs over it) include the Scotsman Hotel, which were the former headquarters of both The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News newspapers, and the five star Balmoral Hotel, originally called the North British Hotel.

It was also home to the much-loved Patrick Thomson's department store which welcomed shoppers for seven decades until its closure in 1976, when it was rebranded as Arnotts department store.

The shop closed for good in 1981 and the building was redeveloped as a hotel and numerous small shops.

Here are 26 pictures to take you back to life on the North Bridge in the 1950s and 1960s.

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