In 2017, after many decades of living in the Stockbridge Colonies, Dorothy Dobson decided that a more modern ground-floor flat would be more appropriate. Whilst we’re sorry that she’s no longer an immediate neighbour or active on the Residents’ Association committee, we’re glad that Dorothy is enjoying life in her new home along the road. As Dorothy was only 6 months old when her parents moved with their 2 children and her maternal grandmother into 9 Dunrobin Place, having swapped it with her uncle for their dearer council house in Boswell Park and since she spent most of her life in the Colonies, she has kindly given us a few tales of life here in the 1930s and ‘40s.
Dorothy’s Aunt Peggy lived opposite at 23 Teviotdale with Mr and Mrs Little and, before World War I, she used to go with her sister (Dorothy’s mother) to St Bernard’s Well on the Water of Leith to draw water deemed to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis from which their mother suffered. Dorothy’s parents had previously been married in 9 Dunrobin, as her mother’s mother was too frail to reach St Stephen’s church.
In the late 1930s and early 40s when Dorothy was a child, a lot of children of a similar age lived in lowers in the street. They used to swing a skipping rope across the street and played ‘peevers’ (hopscotch) on the pavement but weren’t allowed to play outdoors after dark. At 6.45pm, they’d all be indoors listening to Dick Barton, Special Agent on the wireless! Dorothy remembers the removal of the railings atop each wall of the immaculate Colonies gardens (which were used only for washing – on Mondays! – flowers and lawns) for ‘the war effort’, the hut at 16 Teviotdale being the ‘gang hut’ for young Dorothy and her friends and the apple tree which is still there today.
Slightly further afield, Dorothy went to Sunday school and they’d have outings to the Pentlands. What we now call the Rocheid Path used to be ‘Bell Park’ and stretched from the west gate to Inverleith Row Lane. It was well maintained but locked at each end at night and children enjoyed playing in the Dell as well as the Park.
Dorothy remembers how the milk was delivered in bottles by horse and cart and the children collected the manure for the garden. People paid for their milk with tokens bought at the Co-op (now ScotMid) on Hamilton Place and could pay for all their weekly groceries at the end of the week when they had their wages, a stamp being stuck in their green book to prove they’d paid. A greengrocer visited the Colonies once or twice a week and Fishmonger Johnny was to be found at the same time each week in the cooperage (east along Glenogle Road where the new flats now are).
When Dorothy was 3, she was evacuated for a few months with her mother and brother to a very large house with no electricity, run by 2 spinsters in Grantown on Spey and recalls having a Mickey Mouse gas mask!
In 1948, Dorothy began as a pupil at Broughton High School which was then in Broughton itself. Gabriel’s Road steps were in such a dreadful state after the war that they were closed and the cooperage, east of the Colonies on Glenogle Road, had an extremely high wall of which children were scared so, since Colonies children needed a shorter route up to the New Town than via Stockbridge, the snakey path was devised.
Glenogle Swim Centre has evidently always been part of Dorothy’s life! In her youth, when she swam for the Heart of Midlothian team, swimming was segregated with Tuesdays and Thursdays being for women, Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays for men, closed on Sundays but on Wednesdays, it was mixed (although Dorothy’s mother didn’t allow her to go that day ‘with all those wild boys’!) Colonies residents did visit ‘the baths’ for a bath though (or for a swim followed by a shower) with 6d being the cheapest bath, with a ration of hot water, a fee of 9d permitting an addition of hot water and the height of luxury was the 1/3d which paid for a big bath with unlimited hot water, soap and a towel. For Dorothy however, baths were free in exchange for cleaning the 8 baths in individual cubicles which were where the current gym is located.
For other entertainment, there were 3 local cinemas: the Ritz on Rodney Street (now Union Yoga); the Grand on St Stephen Street next to the church; the Savoy on St Bernard’s Row.
Any older longstanding residents might like to reminisce about the other children in our street (Dunrobin/Teviotdale) in the 1930s and 40s:
4: Ian and Joan Knox
6: Mary, Betty and Margaret Kaye
9: Dorothy and her younger brother, Douglas
12: Dagne, Hazel and Sheila Day
13: Freddie Caseley
14: Iain, Alasdair and Helena Buchanan
15: Michael Alsop
16: Mairi, Annie, David and Ian Chalmers
19: Ian and William Taylor
We are very grateful to Dorothy for her many decades of involvement with and support for SCRAs many activities and are delighted that we still bump into her at the pool and on Glenogle Road! The photos show Dorothy on her last day outside 23 Teviotdale, her home since 1966 and receiving small tokens of gratitude from members of the Residents’ Association committee, Ian Mclean, Caro Tulloch and Be Morris.