Your memories: ‘It was always raucous but very good fun’

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GEORGE Grubb is a former Lord Provost of Edinburgh and ex-Church of Scotland minister. He reflects on how Hogamanay celebrations have evolved since the Second World War.

“During the war years, my aunt and uncle owned the Leamington Hotel. They had a lot of troops billeted with them, including Americans and Poles, and held a Hogmanay party every year. It was always raucous but very good fun.

“After the war, Hogmanay really took off. The focus point was the Tron in the centre of Edinburgh, where we used to gather to bring in the chimes. People would sing, join hands and make a joyful noise. It was a huge crowd, but nothing compared to Hogmanay on Princes Street. It was more community spirited, as this was still the old High Street: all of the closes were actually occupied with tenement flats.

“If you weren’t going to the Tron, you would bring in the new year at home with your family, then set out. We would get coal, shortbread and a bottle of something then go around first-footing. I had dark hair in those days, so was usually the first person to be welcomed by the house. That would take us all over the town, then we would end up at a party somewhere. We would get back around five or six in the morning.

“Hogmanay used to be very much a small city event, where people enjoyed themselves then got the tram home. Now it’s an international event, with pop groups and singers. When I was Lord Provost, I used to love to go down to The Mound, where there was a ceilidh going on. That was always terrific.”