Traffic on Raeburn Place in June 1966.
Traffic on Raeburn Place in June 1966.

Edinburgh's Stockbridge: 25 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show what life was like in the cosmopolitan neighbourhood

It’s one of the most vibrant and bohemian parts of Edinburgh – making it a favourite haunt of artists, musicians and writers – and there was plenty going on in Stockbridge half a century ago.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:07 pm

Named after the Scots for ‘timber bridge’, Stockbridge (or stock brig) was just one of several isolated villages that were scattered across the countryside around Edinburgh.

In the 18th century the area was perhaps most famous for being the location of St Bernard’s Well, where the nobility and gentry would drink the waters that reputedly had medicinal qualities.

In 1788 Lord Gardenstone, a wealthy law lord who enjoyed ‘taking the waters’, commissioned architect Alexander Nasmyth to design a new pump house in the shape of a Greek temple that still sits on the banks of the Water of Leith today – with a statue of Greek goddess of health Hygieia later added by Edinburgh publisher William Nelson.

In the 1790s acclaimed Scottish artist Sir Henry Raeburn purchased the majority of the St Bernard’s estate and started feuing off parts for the development of residential properties, though he lived there until his death in 1823.

Raeburn also was also responsibvel for designing some of the most beautiful buildings in the area, which were built by architect James Milne, including St Bernard’s Church in Saxe Coburg Street and the houses on Anne Street, named after the artist’s wife.

In 1801 the the current ‘Stock Bridge’ was built spanning the Water of Leith, making the area even more attractive to developers.

Stockbridge was officailly incorporated into the City of Edinburgh in the middle of the 19th century, when the fast-flowing river meant the village was the perfect location for mills producing cloth, flour and paper.

Artisan craftspeople and artists of all kinds were attracted to the thriving commercial area, with the Stockbridge Colonies terraced housing built in the late 19th century becoming home to skilled workers.

Independent shops still thrive today on the main retail thoroughfare of Raeburn Place, selling everything from art and jewellry to handmade soaps and locally-produced food and drink.

Raeburn Place was also the location of the first international rugby match, at the Edinburgh Academy sports ground, between Scotland and England on 27 March, 1871.

Next door the Grange Club remains the home of the Scottish International Cricket Club.

Here are 25 pictures to take you back to the Stockbridge of the 1950 and 1960s.

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