Indras the elephant and an unforgettable visit to Leith Library

It was just another morning at Leith Library - until Indras the elephant walked in.
Indras the elephant at Leith Library in January 1976. PIC: TSPL.Indras the elephant at Leith Library in January 1976. PIC: TSPL.
Indras the elephant at Leith Library in January 1976. PIC: TSPL.

The elephant had been performing at nearby Leith Theatre and was taken for a visit to the library in January 1976.

Indras had been hired by the then Edinburgh Library Service to promote their campaign to urge people not to forget to return their library books.

The elephant proved to be the perfect big reminder.

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After going for a tour of the reference library and then posing for photographs in the vestibule, Indras left his own memento at the library.

"The elephant left us a little present on the floor," recalled Leith Library librarian, George Wilson.

Pictures in the Edinburgh Evening News show the elephant poking his trunk around library users.

As the paper reported: "Quite unperturbed by it all and reading the morning papers is 70-year-old Peter Allan of Portland Street, Leith."

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A look through the archives, and the story of Indras' librarian visit isn't the only elephant tale to come out the capital over the years.

In 1896, it was reported that a case was raised by John Bennett, a contractor of 18 Bernard Street, Leith against the proprietor of Rostock's Menagerie for £69. It was claimed that Bennett's horse had been injured in the street by an elephant owned by the menagerie.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a newly unearthed archive letter revealed how an early 18th century Dutchman kept an elephant in an upstairs flat in Fishmarket Close.

The letter, dated 23 November 1705, was written by a baker, Adam Kerr, who owned a nearby shop.

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In it he complained about how his bakery and oven were being ruined and exposed to dung, with water also causing damage from the flat above as it cascaded down in what was described as "great quantities".

In his letter, Mr Kerr petitioned the Guild Court to visit the owner of the elephant and the tenant of the flat, a Dutchman by the name of Mr Abraham Sever.