Palais de Dance, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

The Palais de Dance, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh was where my Mum & Dad met.  It was also the place my Uncle Phil punched oot a certain Tam Connery.  An amazing dancehall, according to my Mum, it was turned into a bingo hall and has been lying derelict for decades while a student housing builder tries to demolish it.  Welcome to Edinburgh and their shameful cooncil.

Palais de Dance, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

The only time I went to the pictures with my Dad…

Alexander Walker Hamilton and Stuart Alexander HamiltonWe went to see the film down below.  Cos men didn’t go to the pictures with their children back then. They had important things to do like working and going to the pub.  As it should be.  But he made an exception for this one as I was deemed old enough not to show him up.

It was his third favourite film ever, after Shane and The Man Who Would Be King.  And he was right about THWWBK.

He still called it the Regal, even though it had been renamed ABC many years before, but I don’t think he had been back to the pictures since he was winching his wife to be (aka my Mum) back in about 1960.

There was none of that nonsense about buying food and drink in the pictures either.  That was for rich folk and eejits, but he did buy a packet of Opal Fruits out of Mrs Thomsons before we walked along Dundee Street.

It was a very exciting day for me, and one of the last good days I remember with him, as he was already smitten with the cancer that was to kill him 3 years later.

The strip of pictures of the two of us was taken a couple of years earlier at the photo booth that used to be at the side of the Caledonian Hotel in Lothian Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bridge Too Far Original Half-Sheet

The Cafe Honeydew, Haymarket

Cafe Honeydew - Haymarket - Edinburgh - Interior

© The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor http://www.scran.ac.uk.

Been looking for a picture of the Honeydew at Haymarket for ages.  Click on it for a larger version on the SCRAN website (although you need to be registered).

My Mum worked here in the early sixties when she and my Dad were living in Dalry Road. It was a favoured haunt of the Hearts team who enjoyed a hearty(!) fry up back in the days when that was allowed.

After that, she ended up in the Marble Arch in Morrison Street, another up market fry up shop.

 

PS – click here.  But don’t tell anyone.

Granny Robinson’s domestic service

My Gran, Mary Agnes Evelyn MUIR, married Edward ROBINSON in 1916 at the Sacred Heart in Lauriston, Edinburgh. Her Dad was a shoemaker, who had shops around town, but like many of her generation, she was in domestic service when she got married.

One of his shops was just along the road in William Street (its now Herbies sandwich shop – pic at bottom), so it was probably one of his customers who gave her a job.

Spookily, I moved to a new office, just before I started doing all this family history stuff, and had, unwittingly, walked past her old place of work a good few times. She was in service, in Walker Street, in the building pictured below. It’s the house with the black door, pictured below. She lived in, while in service, so one of those pokey wee windaes on the top floor would have been hers.

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Herbie West End sandwich shop

Mums moves

As with Great Grandad Muir, I’ve been following my Mums footsteps around Embra to see where she used to live.

My Mum (Grace Hamilton nee Robinson) was born in Leith in 1929. At this point the Robinson family were living in 122 Bonnington Road, just off Great Junction Street, which is here. The tenements are long gone. replaced with sheltered housing.

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At some point they moved to a flat near the bottom of Leith Walk, but I haven’t been able to find out exactly where yet. My Mum used to say it was near where the Germans bombed some houses in lieu of the docks, and she would point to where the Dolphin pub is. However, as she had been evacuated to Pittenweem (below), along with the twins Alice and Bill, she was understandably a bit vague. However, Pittenweem must have been a pleasant change from thirties Leith!

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When she came back from the evacuation, the family had been relocated to a brand, spanking new council house in Pennywell Road. Map here.At the time, they were the last houses in Edinburgh, overlooking a farmers field, which was handy for the border collie they had as a pet at the time. Until some gypsies stole him, something that aroused lifelong antipathy in my mother. Amazingly, considering it’s a cooncil hoose, it’s still there. If you browse through the photos of the Robinsons elsewhere, you’ll find lots of them were taken here.

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When my Mum was 17, she begged and pleaded with her parents to join the Womens Auxiliary Air Force. She’d already tried when she was 16, but got caught lying about her age. So they relented, and let her join up, to become a WAAF. She was stationed at RAF Wilmslow, and would get misty eyed when she talked about her time there. The base was in Cheshire, (Map here.) so weekend passes would be spent in Blackpool, dancing at the Empire. That’s when she wasn’t getting flown to Germany as a member of the WAAF tennis team. She worked in the main building, processing all the new recruits who were coming in to do their National Service.

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After the WAAFs, it was back to Pennywell, where she happily lived the life of a party girl, until the sudden death of her mother in 1959. It was the move from being Mums pampered wee girl into looking after her one legged Dad, her bachelor brother and her wee black bastard nephew that propelled her into marrying my Dad (Alexander Walker Hamilton). As mentioned elsewhere, there is a degree of mystery about the wedding. None of my Mums family attended, and none of her relatives outside Edinburgh knew it about it till after the event. Certainly, my Auntie Terry in America and Uncle George in Yorkshire wrote later expressing their surprise. My own opinion, based on late night ramblings by my Mum after my Dad died is that she was probably pregnant (not with me), and that her family had expected her not to leave home. It would have been viewed as abandonment, given the one legged / bastard bit above. Anyway, marry she did, and moved into the first marital home in Leith Walk. Strangely, I pass the front door most days on my way to work, as its 2 minutes away from where I stay.

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After that, they flitted to Dalry Road, (map here). which was handier for my Mum getting to work at Ferrantis at Crewe Toll. This was back in the days of the suburban railway, so it took her about 10 minutes. Try doing that now!

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Then it was off to the other side of the Telfer Subway. Which was moving up (literally and socially) to Temple Park Crescent. The flat I remember most fondly from my childhood. My Auntie Famie was 2 doors down, my pals Alan and Jammy lived in the same stair, and it was before my Dad fell ill. Virtually everything happy in my childhood happened when we lived here (here’s the map).

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The final move for me was round the corner to Polwarth Crescent. Literally. If you look at the Temple Park Crescent map, it meets Polwarth Crescent at the corner. I could see the windows of my old home from the back green of the new one. To be fair, they’d moved to get me a room of my own, as I’d slept in the kitchen in Temple Park. However, this was the house where my Dad died, the house I left home from, and the house where my Mum was left by herself, especially after we fell out.

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My Mum lived there for another 16 years before moving to a wee maindoor in Balcarres Street, Morningside (map here) for the last ten years of her life. At least by then, we’d reached a truce, and I was a regular visitor.

She died at the Hoel Burstin in Folkestone in 2008. It’s marked A on the map here.

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