Children playing in the 'no vehicles zone' of Dalry's Caledonian Place in 1966.
Children playing in the 'no vehicles zone' of Dalry's Caledonian Place in 1966.

Edinburgh's Dalry: 29 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s that show what life was like in the popular residential area

It’s one of the most popular residential areas of Edinburgh – which is also home to plenty of independent shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs – and there was plenty going on in Dalry half a century ago.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 1:46 pm

Historians believe the area’s name comes from the Scottish Gaelic phrases dail ruigh or dail rìgh – meaning ‘place of the fields’ or ‘king's field’ respectively.

Dalry dates back to the early 14th century, when it was owned by William Bisset and ro se to prominence when it became home to the first paper mill recorded in Scotland, with a history stretching back to at least 1478.

The Dalry Mill produced paper for Edinburgh’s printing and publishing businesses until the middle of the 18th century.

In the 17th century Dalry remained outside the old city walls and was part of the agricultural estate of Dalry House, constructed in 1661 by the Chiesley family, and remained largely undeveloped for the next two centuries.

The house was sold to the Walker family in around 1790, then ended up in the hands of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1870, when it was used as a teacher training college and by the Edinburgh and Leith Old People's Welfare Committee until its closure in 2002.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that serious development transformed Dalry, when a mix of traditional tenements and terraced ‘colonies’ were built to house workers required by local industry, including the railway, the Fountain Brewery, the Caledonian Distillery, the North British Rubber Company's Castle Mill and the Grove Street Biscuit Factory.

To deal with the surging demand for housing, in the late 19th century Scottish businessman Sir James Steel bought three large areas of ground to construct major housing projects – the Caledonian, Downfield and Murieston developments.

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a number of well known landmarks were added, including the Dalry Swim Centre and the Haymarket Cinema (now a tattoo parlour).

Modern day Dalry is primarily a residential area, just 10 minutes walk from Princes Street, centred around Dalry Road, which has numerous shops, restaurants and small businesses.

Almost all the industry has now gone, replaced by housing – the most recent major development being Dalry Gait in the early 21st century.

Here are 29 pictures to take you back to Dalry in the 19650s and 1960s.

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