Nostalgia: ‘The big chains took a hatchet to our pubs’

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PETER Stanton, 70, who worked on and off as a barman in the Duddingston Mill pub for more than 20 years, recalls how pubs were once the hub of the Niddrie and Craigmillar communities.

He said: “My trade was as a self-employed mechanic but I used to work in the evenings as a spare or voluntary barman. I used to be paid in pints, people would head out most nights for a chat down the pub and a few drinks. If things got busy then I’d jump behind the bar.

“There were loads of pubs and clubs in the area back then, The Duddingston, The White House, The Castle Tavern, the Jewel Miners Welfare Society and Social Club and the Craigmillar Hearts Supporters Club. All of them are now gone.

“In my view there are no such places as Niddrie or Craigmillar anymore, the heart has been ripped out of them. Every night you could go in to any pub and it would be full of people drinking and laughing, playing dominoes and darts or having a sing-song. There was no such thing as karaoke back then.

“There would be be tables of people all playing dominoes, chapping away with a queue of people waiting to get a seat.

“People never realised how much having a pub means to a community. It’s all geared towards making a profit now. Back then you’d have a big fire, free newspapers, lemonade, crisps and nuts, nowadays you get nothing for free, you don’t even get a beer mat.

“The big chains have carried out a hatchet job and ruined the pubs and they wonder why no-one heads out to them any more. It’s sad to see really when you think back at how much the local pub once meant to a community.”