Janet Walker and Balfour - a pony from Redford Barracks that moved to St Cuthbert's Stable - enjoying a lunch hour walk in Tollcross in May 1963.
Janet Walker and Balfour - a pony from Redford Barracks that moved to St Cuthbert's Stable - enjoying a lunch hour walk in Tollcross in May 1963.

Edinburgh's Tollcross: 32 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show what life was like in the vibrant neighbourhood

It’s a vibrant part of Edinburgh – home to a diverse range of restaurants, a Chinese-language church, a cinema, a theatre, and the city's Scottish Gaelic-Medium Unit – and there was plenty going on in Tollcross half a century ago.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 10:26 am

The first mention of the area of Tollcross came in the mid-15th century, when it was known at Tolcors – which historians believe comes from the word ‘cor’, meaning boggy hollow and referring to the area around the Lochrin Burn.

The oft-cited story that it means ‘toll at a crossroads’ is apocryphal, as the road juntion now situated there was not in existance when the ‘Lands of Tolcross’ were included in a 1649 Charter of Charles II under the ownership of a Major James Weir.

By the late 18th century the area’s crossroads was brought into existence, providing a major juction between Earl Grey Street, Lauriston Place, Broughham Street, Home Street and West Tollcross.

The proximity of the Union Canal meant the area was a hub of industry in the 19th century, home to a distillery, a brewery (on the site where the Kings Theatre now stands), a ropeworks and an ironworks.

The landmark ironwork pillar clock in the middle of the junction was added in 1901, when it was a busy tram hub, gifted to the city by Provost James Steel and Treasurer Robert Cranston and made by the Edinburgh clockmakers James Ritchie & Son.

Improvements to the junction let to the clock’s removal, but it was soon returned after public outcry.

The majority of the housing in the area is Victorian tenements – built in the 1860s and 1870s by James Steel, an entrepreneurial Edinburgh builder who was responsible for many similar developments in the Capital.

Nowadays Tollcross is a vibrant neighbourhood with a mix of shops, cafes, restaurants and takeaways alongside the kings Theatre and the Cameo Cinema.

Here are 32 photographs to take you back to the Tollcross of the 1950s and 1960s.

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