Exhibition launches showcasing ‘lost’ vintage colour photos of Portobello

Hundreds descended on the iconic open air pool during the summer months.
Hundreds descended on the iconic open air pool during the summer months.
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Smoke rises from the roof of Portobello’s power station as the historic structure visible from across the Forth goes up in flames.

Just along the street, dozens of youngsters enjoy a warm summer day as they head straight for the open air pool which once dominated the area.

THE 1961 blaze at the former Porotbello Power Station was one of thousands of rare images captured by amateur photographer John Brodie.

THE 1961 blaze at the former Porotbello Power Station was one of thousands of rare images captured by amateur photographer John Brodie.


Meanwhile, families crowd onto the beaches of Edinburgh’s seaside as a pony and trap meanders past in the sunshine.


Now, a rare cache of colour photographs showing scenes from life in the Capital during the ’50s and ’60s is to go on display in Portobello – after being discovered in an attic more than 10,000 miles away.


Alan Wilson uncovered the stunning collection of snapshots taken by his uncle, amateur photographer John Brodie, at his home in Tasmania in 2015, later donating the haul to the Lost Edinburgh historical group.


The images – thought to be some of the first colour pictures of the area – are now to be showcased to the public for the first time at Portobello Library as part of a link-up between the Facebook page and the Portobello Heritage Trust.

Families crowded the beaches to soak up the sun and enjoy pony rides on the sand

Families crowded the beaches to soak up the sun and enjoy pony rides on the sand


Trust chairwoman Dr Margaret Munro said she hoped the images would allow old and new residents to connect over a shared passion for the area.


She added: “You remember your own memories in colour, but when you see them, they are in black and white. Colour film would be really expensive at that time and people would only ever take care when shooting in colour, it was usually only reserved for special family occasions.


“It is extremely rare to see this kind of quality of image from that time, but they have perfectly captured some of the most historic parts of Portobello, from the power station to the open air pool and even beyond that.”


As well as a photographic record of the time, Mr Brodie’s collection also features “meticulously annotated” notes detailing exactly where and when the images were shot – some even down to the nearest minute.

Passengers disembark from the Skylark.

Passengers disembark from the Skylark.


A colourful snap of the library just weeks after it opened its doors in the 1960s is included in the exhibition.


Lost Edinburgh founder David McLean said: “The image of the power station ablaze is incredible, not only is it complete happenstance John was there at that exact time, but he recorded it, made notes about the exact time it happened.


“It is so incredibly rare you get images of these kind of historic events, much rarer they are fully annotated and preserved.”


He added: “We were extremely grateful to receive these pictures. It is a phenomenal legacy for John to leave behind.”


Photographer John passed away in Australia in 1980 before the images were bequeathed to Alan years later.


He told the Evening News: “It is absolutely fantastic that these images are going to be brought to life and put on public display. My uncle John would be so proud to know that his hobby could bring back so many happy memories for his fellow Scots.”

• Portobello in the 1950s and 60s: Images from the John Brodie Collection donated to Lost Edinburgh runs from 2 September till 11 October at Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue