Following on from our look at vintage Glasgow, Bath and Harrogate guide books, here we take a trip back to Edinburgh in 1952, courtesy of Ward-Lock’s Red Guide.
Maps are an important part of any guide book but there were only three maps in the Red Guide to Edinburgh, which is quite surprising by today’s standards, especially considering that the Guide Book is getting on for 200 pages long.
The first map was an overview map of the area surrounding Edinburgh. Then, further into the Guide, came the map of central Edinburgh (an extract of which we’ve shown below) and, near the end, a map of the Portobello region.
One of our own maps of Edinburgh is shown here for comparison.
(Extract from the 1952 map of Edinburgh included in the Ward Lock Guide Book)
(Our own map of Edinburgh produced a few years ago for Thomson Local Directories)
Although the maps are interesting – and pretty essential in any guide book both in 1952 and today – the adverts in the Red Guides are also of interest and give a unique insight into the way things were then and how they’ve changed today.
In 1952 the predominant advertisers in the Guide Books were Insurance Companies, not something you’d find in too many Guide Books these days. In fact, there were six individual adverts for insurance, most of them full page advertisements, in the Edinburgh guide. There were also three adverts for Banks – the Westminster Bank, National Provincial Bank and the Standard Bank of South Africa.
The text in the Guide Book can be quite amusing too. Does anyone in the UK remember when shops used to close for a half day once a week? How about fishmongers closing on Monday afternoons; drapers and jewellers on Tuesdays; bakers, butchers, grocers, chemists, hairdressers and stationers on Wednesdays; plus most of the shops on Princes Street in Edinburgh on Saturday afternoons? Imagine having to keep track of that lot and arranging your weekly shop around when they were actually open! No wonder supermarkets, opening 24/7, took over.
And, just in case you wanted to know how you should visit Edinburgh, we’ve included here the text from a few of the pages – all written in what seems like a rather quaint way, but this was probably standard for the time.
Edinburgh in Half a Day is typical of this:
If one has but half a day to devote to Edinburgh and no private car to speed – or hamper – one, it is possible (with the occasional aid of public conveyances and without overtaxing one’s legs) to ‘do’ most of the major sights, after a fashion; but while the New Town openly displays its charms and its story is such that he who runs may read, it must be borne in mind that the Old Town hides many of its rarest treasures in obscure corners – courts and closes, wynds and vennels – which baffle the hustling globe-trotter and can only be explored on foot.
Some of the places of interest listed for Edinburgh in 1952 included the Public Library, the Register House and the Signet Library (but, please note that use of this library is granted only to applicants who have been ‘suitably recommended’).
At PCGraphics we have many more of these Ward Lock Guide Books, plus other maps and tourist books, all more than 50 years old and some as old as 100 years. They were originally bought to give us ‘royalty free’ source material for creating town and city plans of the UK. That requirement has now been largely made redundant by the freeing up of Ordnance Survey data but they are still a fascinating insight into times gone by.
(You can click on any of the images above to view them at a larger size)
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