A woman hangs up her washing in Dean Village in April 1960.
A woman hangs up her washing in Dean Village in April 1960.

Edinburgh's Dean Village: These 23 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show what life was like in the tranquil residential area

It’s now one of the most peaceful and picturesque residential areas of Edinburgh – sitting on the banks of the Water of Leith – but half a century ago Dean Village was undergoing an extensive, and much-needed, programme of regeneration.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 10:38 am

Dean Village’s history dates back to the 12th century when it was the location of grain mills powered by the strong current of the Water of Leith.

At this point it was known as the ‘Water of Leith Village’, with the first written mention of the mills of Dene (meaning ‘deep valley’) in the founding charter of Holyrood Abbey when King David I gifted one of the mills to the abbey.

The village remained separate from the Capital until the 19th century, when future Edinburgh Lord Provost John Learmonth bought the Dean Estate.

The Dean Bridge was added in 1833, linking the two sides of the valley and carrying Queensferry Road over the Dean Gorge.

The four-arch bridge, built by Thomas Telford, made the Dean Village a more attractive prospect for developers.

In the early 20th century Dean Village lost much of its industry to larger and more efficient mills in Leith, becoming known as a poor area blighted by crumbling buildings.

A period of redevelopment and restoration began in the 1960s, with modern housing joining newly-converted workers cottages and former mills.

By the 1970s it had become a desirable place to live – near the city centre but with a tranquil atmosphere all of its own – and it remains a popular residential area to this day.

The popular Water of Leith Walkway, connecting Balerno to Leith, was added to the area in 1983.

Here are 23 pictures to take you back to the area in the 1950s and 1960s.

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