Porty at War: World War II

Local history of Portobello, including an archive of Portobello postcards through the years

Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 29 Jan 2012, 08:25

On March 15 1939 the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia.

25 people volunteered to act as emergency telephone operators at Portobello Police Station should the need arise.

The key issue in Portobello was the proposal to close the primary school adjacent to the High School and transfer the 300 pupils to Towerbank. Since the raising of the school leaving age,the pressure on the High School was such that something had to be done and annexing the primary school was a straightforward and cost effective solution. The Corporation argued that Towerbank had capacity for 885 pupils and there were only 440 on the register, so it would be perfectly feasible to transfer the additional 300. There were demands for a local referendum on the issue, with opponents arguing that the Corporation couldn’t manage to get those sorts of numbers into Towerbank. Opponents also argued that the existing school could become fee-paying as they would be prepared to pay for their children to continue to go there. When petitions were finally raised, only 600 signatures were obtained, 567 in support of the move to Towerbank and 33 against.

At the annual meeting of the Portobello Unionist Association, held a 178 Portobello High Street, Miss V. Glen gave an address on the Women of France in which she expressed the view that although the french women had no vote, they still took a very keen interest in the affairs of their country.

Portobello’s new cinema, The County, opened in Bath Street. It cost over £20,000 to build and had an audience capacity of 1,600. The spacious foyer and system of entrances and exits meant that the entire cinema could be cleared in half a minute. The auditorium’s saucer shape was such that no seat was immediately behind another so that each patron had an uninterrupted view. Wide knee room was also a feature of the seating. The sound system was by Western Electric Mirrophonic and the lighting system by Holophane.

4 Rosefield Place was on the market for £450. ‘Craig Royston’ 12 East Brighton Crescent could be had for £850 and 40 The Promenade for £590.

Edinburgh Corporation was seeking tenders for the hire of deck chairs on Portobello beach during the summer months.

Portobello’s Dave Doherty beat Frankie Martin of Carlisle on points over eight rounds at the Leith Boxing club.

R. Calder and J. McLeod of Portobello won the East of Scotland Badminton League men’s doubles championship at Dalmeny Street Drill Hall..

The Royal Hotel was advertising for a young girl , with a little experience, to act as a between maid. The Co-op at 5 Pipe Street was looking for a manageress for their bakery department.
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Re: Porty at War

Postby rathbone » 30 Jan 2012, 08:28

On 13 April 1939 work was finally completed on the new Portobello Power Station and it was opened by T.M. Cooper M.P. He threw a lever on the chairman’s table which set in motion the new 30,000 kilowatt turbo alternator housed in the new turbine room. The Station had been built in stages, the first being opened by King George V in 1923. It was noted that the market value of the new station was £10 million. Output was 400 million units meaning that electricity was now not a luxury but a service which every household could use to the fullest extent possible. Even the poorest consumer could now use electricity from an economical point of view.

It was proposed that the new headquarters of the 78th Field Regiment should be established in Portobello.

The Unemployment Figures for Edinburgh indicated that as of the end of march 1939 815 people in Portobello were wholly unemployed. Of these 641 were men, 51 boys and the remainder women.

A Whist Drive and dance organised by the Straiton Place Whist Club raised £61 for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The Earl of Haddington presented the prizes at the conclusion of the individual darts competition at the British Legion. He joked that when Hitler and Mussolini landed at Portobello they would find everyone playing darts. But he had no doubt that the men of Portobello would find enough time to leave their darts and give their visitors a good ducking. That might stop the aggression they heard so much about.

An application was made by Thomas Thomson for a hotel licence for the Seabeach Hotel. It was pointed out that the Seabeach, though classed as a Boarding House catered for wedding parties and other functions and that there had been no increase in the number of hotel licences in Portobello for over a decade. There were 114 objectors, all claiming that the Seabeach was a boarding house and to raise it to the status of an hotel would set a bad precedent.

Sheriff Gilchrist deferred the case of an 11 year old at Edinburgh Juvenile Court until it could be ascertained if any parental control over the boy could be achieved. He had broken into a Portobello fruit shop and stolen 72 oranges, which he then proceeded to sell from a pram which he wheeled around Portobello. The Sheriff was appalled that people were prepared to buy fruit in these circumstances.

On the Scottish Light Programme (391m) Leo Hunter gave a 15 minute talk about his visit to the Portobello Bottle Works.

Portobello Renton FC beat Arniston Rangers 5-0 in the Midlothian League.

Romance of Prestonholm, a fox terrier owned by Mrs. D. Sturrock of Portobello won best in Show at the Scottish Fox Terrier Championships held in Ayr.
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Re: Porty at War

Postby rathbone » 31 Jan 2012, 08:22

May saw a heat wave which went on for days. The temperature in the shade rose as high as 75 degrees.

Steps were taken to install emergency transformers and switch gear where the Grid Lines crossed Cables on the land owned by the Parks Department between Duddingston Road and the Figgate Burn. By connecting this plant, if needed, a partial electricity supply could be maintained in the event of Portobello Power Station being damaged in the event of war.
Ironically, following the failure of valves at the Piershill sub-station, much of Edinburgh was ‘blacked-out’ for over an hour.

The Open Air bathing pool re-opened for the summer season after a £1,500 refurbishment. Over £500 had been spent on the wave making apparatus alone. It was now possible to produce large, rushing waves five feet high, but for safety reasons the authorities had decided to make the waves no greater than three feet six inches. Heated water from the power station next door was now being filtered and added to the pool water, keeping it at an average temperature of 68 degrees. The pool contained half a million gallons of water and took 50 hours to fill. A variety of rubber floats and a large log were available in the pool for exciting fun.The changing rooms were also heated from the power station, to a temperature of 75 degrees. Hair dryers had been installed in the women’s cubicles and for 1 penny a woman could have her hair quite dry in less than three minutes. 180 gallons of white paint were used in the refurbishment. Adult bathers were charged 6d, Juveniles 3d and Spectators 3d. On one day alone there were 4,600 bathers and 7,000 spectators.

A wooden shed belonging to George Smith, 17 Bath Street, was destroyed by fire. Its contents, scaffolding, timber and a 50 gallon barrel of petrol were all lost. The fire brigade put out the blaze in less than an hour.

Agnes Summers of Portobello was awarded a pension of £20 per annum by the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

Portobello Renton FC lost to Rosewell Rosedale 3-2 After the match Reg Westbrook of Renton transferred to East Fife FC. Westbrook could play in either inside forward positions or wing half and had previously been provisionally signed by Hibernian.


By a margin of one and a half lengths Portobello Amateur Rowing Club defeated the holder, Stirling ARC, in the East of Scotland Rowing Championships over a course of 1 mile off Portobello beach.

Portobello came second in the under 13 section of the 19th Edinburgh Scottish Country Dance Competition

Edinburgh and Canada battled it out at the Marine Gardens Speedway track.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 01 Feb 2012, 08:21

The Government issued Gas Masks to all of the civilian population. In Portobello you could pick up your mask either from St. John’s R.C. School, St. Philip’s Church Hall or the Marine Gardens. The Dean of Guild Court granted warrants for the erection of air raid shelters at various locations in Portobello.

Over 1,000 young men registered at Portobello Labour Exchange for the call-up in the event of war. When registering potential militiamen were asked to state what service they would like to join, Navy, Army or Air Force. Those who enrolled received instructions within the next few days to report for medical examination. Men who objected to serve for conscientious reasons received a special form which they had to fill in and return.

The heat wave continued into June with the temperature rising to 88 degrees. The highest temperature recorded was in Shandwick Place, which reached 97, but it was thought that this was due to an unusual combination of reflected heat from the walls and pavement. Both Portobello pool and the beach were thronged with bathers trying to keep cool. Extra tram cars and buses were put into service to convey the crowds to Portobello.

A Grand Gala was held, featuring a display by the Highgate Diving Club, a water polo match, the 100 yards Ladies’ Championship of Scotland and the 100 yards Gents’ Invitation Handicap. There was also entertainment from the Mayfair Dance Orchestra, the Constance Gabrielle School of Dancing and Miss Cissy McLuckie and Mr. Alec Cockburn gave excerpts from The Vagabond King. 2,000 spectators turned up and watched Miss D. Murray of Aberdeen win the championship for the third year in succession.

At the Baths a new Aerotone machine was installed. The principle of the new device was massage through hydraulic vibrations. An upward current of water in the inner bath, in which the bather is seated, is induced by air under pressure pumped into the bath by electrical power. A similar current is induced in the outer bath with the result that the water overflows into the inner which sets up a vibrating effect over the entire body. The force of gravity is neutralised by the counterflows of air and water and complete relaxation is attained.

A new Milk Bar opened on Portobello Promenade. Lemon milk shakes were at a premium, with swimmers in such a hurry to get one each that they walked straight up out of the sea, quaffed their milk shake and then walked back into the sea again.

In the Evening Dispatch Golf Tournament Portobello United were beaten by the Licensed Victuallers in the fourth round.

At the Marine Gardens Speedway Edinburgh beat Crystal Palace 30 - 23. In heat five Jack Hancock of Edinburgh collided with a Crystal Palace rider. He was carried off, but after receiving attention from the ambulance men, was able to resume.

Edward Coombes of 213 Portobello High Street was sentenced to eight months hard labour. Coombes was butler to Lord Cecil Douglas and had been found guilty of stealing two of his Lordship’s old suits. On a separate charge, Coombes was indicted for bigamy. It was alleged that he married Lord Douglas’ cook, Marjorie Drew when he was already married to Florence Coombes.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 02 Feb 2012, 08:22

The Edinburgh Professional Orchestra began a season at the Bandstand on Portobello Promenade. Their repertoire included works by Verdi, Sullivan, Ketelby, Strauss and Boccherini.

A second Gala was held at Portobello Pool. This time it was the final of the Log Rolling competition, and featured Tony Zukas and Frank Foster, the world’s most daring and original acrobatic and comedy diving team. This tie round Miss McLuckie and Mr. Cockburn have excerpts from The Desert Song.

Peter Gilklon, 16, of James Street built himself a raft and set off from Portobello beach. Unfortunately, he lost his oar and was being carried out by the tide when he was spotted by John Ormiston who was driving his tram car along Seafield Road. Ormiston was a strong swimmer who had swum the Forth on several occasions. He immediately stopped his tram, undressed and swam out to rescue the boy, bringing him and the raft back to the shore. He then dressed, got in to the tram and carried on his route. Several other tramcars were unavoidably held up during the rescue, but people were not unduly delayed.

No fewer than 94 children were delivered to the care of Nurse Brown at the Portobello Lost Children’s hut in one day. The hut was open from ten in the morning until nine at night to take in and look after lost children or to give first aid to boys and girls who hurt themselves on the beach.

Portobello Rowing Club won the 49th annual Scottish Jolly Boat Championships
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 03 Feb 2012, 08:43

The Government announced the arrangements for Evacuation. All expectant mothers who had not yet given birth or who had other children under school age were to report to the Child Welfare Clinic at 5 Rosefield Avenue to receive instructions on what to do if evacuation is required.

A First Aid centre was established in Portobello Town Hall.

While they were digging to construct an air raid shelter at the back of Pitt Street, workmen hit stone hardly more than a foot below the surface. Below the stone they came upon a circular well about four feet in diameter and 20 feet deep. The well was lined with stone and excellently preserved. The men covered the well again with the stone slabs and moved the shelter a few feet away.

Two weeks in a row the Edinburgh Speedway Team were triumphant at the Marine Gardens circuit, defeating Sheffield by nine points in the ACU Northern Cup competition. Edinburgh’s captain, George Greenwood scored maximum points, the only ridder with a 100% record.

A team from the Armann Athletic Club of Reykjavik, Iceland, gave a demonstration of gymnastics at Portobello Pool. There were over 6,000 spectators.

Portobello Renton FC were drawn against Markinch Victoria in the first round of the Scottish Cup.

On August 31 the British fleet was mobilized and civilian evacuations began.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 04 Feb 2012, 08:23

On September 1, 1939 - Germany invaded Poland and two days later Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. The following day the British Royal Air Force began attacks on Germany.

The evacuation of Children from Portobello started in earnest at 7:00 on the morning of 2 September, with people assembling at Towerbank. Large numbers of the parents waited in the street while their children were given their identification labels which were attached to their clothing. Besides the necessaries, small children brought favourite toys, dolls and teddy bears and the older ones had story books and comics. Parents who had put a brave face on the prospect of parting were obviously affected when their children went off to the railway station, from which all of the grown ups except the teachers were excluded. In some cases mothers broke down and even the men were unable to disguise their emotion. The position of the women was made none the lighter by the fact that their husbands had been called up for service duty. One mother told how she had had no sleep during the night and since five o’clock had been preparing her eight children for the journey into the country.Care was taken to see that children from the same family were not separated, but there were one or two temporary separations. One of these concerned twins. The father had one on his shoulder and the mother was carrying the other. Then, in the crowd, they lost each other. When they were finally reunited, the two mites were determined not to be separated and sat on the train clasping each other’s hand.

The Chief Constable was eager to recruit 30 volunteers to train as a Gas Detectors.

It was announced that Portobello Post Office and the Library would remain open as normal, as would the Baths. Portobello Pool would be closed. However the collection of letters from the post boxes would be limited and there would only be one delivery of letters and parcels a day.

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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 05 Feb 2012, 08:29

On September 5 the United States proclaimed its neutrality.

The King awarded the Imperial Service Medal to J. Angus of Portobello. Mr. Angus was a telegraphist.

By this time all of the trench shelters and almost half of the unit shelters had been completed. The trench shelters held 445 people and each unit shelter 50. There were 5 unit shelters on Brighton Park and 1 at Mount Lodge

Because of the closure of the Pool, the Baths were now overcrowded. The Superintendent of Baths applied to have the opening hours extended, but the Council declined, lest light escape through the glass roof over the baths.

The Parks Committee decreed that all football matches played on public pitches should be reduced to 35 minutes each half in order to reduce the requirement to light the pavilions during December and January.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 06 Feb 2012, 08:23

The first German Planes were seen over Portobello around 2:30 p.m. on 17 October. The first indication was the sound of heavy anti-aircraft fire on both banks of the Forth, then three machines, which appeared to be fighters, streaked across the sky at a low altitude. One raider swooped inwards from the sea front, just clearing the housetops in Pitt Street. Soon afterwards a twin engined plane also flew low in the direction of the city. Watchers saw the German bombers make desperate attempts to hit an objective with their bombs. Driven off by heavy fire they returned time and time again, but though the bombs caused huge waterspouts in the Forth, no damage was done. Other bombs dropped near the Forth Bridge but it was not hit. Fragments of shells from the anti aircraft guns fell in many parts and a number of people had narrow escapes from being hit. A tramcar proceeding through Portobello had a piece of shrapnel smash one of the windows on the upper deck. One man in Portobello was struck by a machine gun bullet but not badly hurt.
There was concern expressed that no air raid warning had been sounded by any of the sirens in Portobello and that people were refusing to enter the shelters because no warning had been sounded.

Two of the German planes were shot down and their pilots killed. Their bodies were taken to St. Philip’s church in Portobello where their coffins were draped in the German flag and on the communion table was a single wreath with the inscription: With the deepest sympathy of Scottish mothers. They were buried in Portobello Cemetery with full military honours, escorted by a detachment from the Royal Air Force. Thousands of people lined the route from St. Philips to the cemetery. Wreaths were laid on the grave by Officers of the Headquarters of Scottish Command.
The ARP Centre in Portobello Town Hall was established, the Report Centre and Control Room in the Police Station and the Auxiliary Fire Station at St. John’s School.

Evening Classes resumed at the W.M. Ramsay Technical Institute (the former Chocolate Factory).

Mr. J. Eccles, manager of Edinburgh Corporation Electricity Department gave a lecture on the new Portobello Power Station.

Food rationing began. Application forms for licences for shops to sell food were available from the Library.

Special gas masks for babies could now be collected from the Town Hall.

The Corporation sought tenders for the grazing of sheep on Portobello Golf course.

Portobello Renton FC were beaten 3 -1 by Whitburn.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 07 Feb 2012, 08:24

On November 8 an assassination attempt on Hitler failed.

Thomas Peck, who was a prominent member of St. James’ church died after a short illness. When the church was recently refurbished Mr. Peck had donated the communion table, pulpit and lectern.

The Poppy Day collection in Portobello raised £130 14s 5d.

The annual sale of work in the Portobello Free Church raised £140.

The Rev. Hall of St. Mark’s church was appointed Canon of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. Rev. Hall had been at St. Marks for three years and was editor of both the Scottish Chronicle and the Scottish Churchman magazines.

The Tower Amusements were advertising for a large shop, or similar premises in order to expand their automatic machines and amusements business.

The County Cinema was showing The Mikado. Reserved seat tickets were 1/3d each.

The Co-op were looking for an experienced girl with knowledge of ledger work and the making up of accounts.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 08 Feb 2012, 08:31

The first reported Portobello casualty of the war was G. Govan of 26 Esplanade Terrace, the third mate on a ship which was sunk during enemy action.

The Corporation decided to install blackout equipment at Portobello Baths to enable the baths to open in the evening. The cost of installation was £150.

A social at St John’s School raised 10 guineas for the Red Cross fund.

The Lady Provost expressed her thanks to the 25th Portobello Company of the Boys’ Brigade for their donation of £10 to her fund for the comfort of the Scottish Regiments.

Alexander Strang received permission from the Dean of Guild Court to build a factory at 52 Pipe Street for the manufacture of tractors.

R. Shaw of Portobello won the medal for best budgerigar at the Musselburgh Ornithological Society’s annual show. At the Portobello Cage Bird Society show, the same award was won by J. M. Clark of Portobello, with Mr. Shaw as runner up.

The contents of 19 Argyle Crescent were sold at auction, down to the box end fender.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 09 Feb 2012, 08:20

On January 8, 1940 universal rationing began in Britain.

Another German plane was shot down over Portobello. The body of the pilot was buried next to the other german airmen in Portobello cemetery.

A further issue of gas masks for children between the ages of two and three years was made. They could be picked up either from St. John’s school or the Congregational Church Hall in Wellington Street.

The death was announced of William Wood at the age of 76. Mr. Wood had been part of the relief expedition to rescue General Gordon at Khartoum. He was a prominent member of Portobello society, well known as a tenor vocalist and an instrumentalist. He had been Beadle of both Windsor Place and Regent Street churches for several years.

Mrs. A. R. Mitchell also died. Mrs. Mitchell was the first convenor of the Edinburgh Women Citizens’ Association and had raised considerable funds for both the Simpson and Elsie Inglis maternity hospitals. For the last six years she had been secretary and treasurer of the Portobello Nursery School and, at the outbreak of the war secretary of the Lady Provost’s Comfort Depot.


Robert Waldie of 19 Portobello High Street was injured when the train, on which he was the guard, stopped at the Monktonhall Junction to allow an express to pass, was hit by a good train on the same line, which had failed to stop. Waldie’s train was derailed. He was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.


Tim Wright of 38 Durham Road set up in business as a pianoforte teacher (both dance and classical).

The Royal Hotel was looking to employ a nurse.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 10 Feb 2012, 08:23

On March 16 the Germans bombed Scapa Flow naval base.

Sergeant George Miller of 80 Brunstane Road was reported killed in action.

All young men between the ages of 20 and 24 in Portobello were required to register for military service. While it was not likely that they would be called up for another month, over the coming fortnight the authorities would eliminate those exempted under the schedule of reserved occupations, arrange for medical examinations of the rest and compile the list of those available for military service. 800 men from Portobello were subsequently called up.

A surprise trial air raid exercise was carried out in Portobello. In an area between Joppa and Kings Road, nine incidents were reported in as many minutes. It was presumed that high explosive, gas and incendiary bombs had been dropped by enemy aircraft, inflicting many casualties and causing extensive damage. The majority of the 160 personnel of the first aid depot were at their posts within minutes of the siren warning and all were soon ready for any casualties that might be brought in. Even the women who were on decontamination duty had quickly donned their enveloping oilskins.

New air raid shelters were erected in the playground at Portobello High School. These were intended for the use of people attending evening classes.

The Corporation was seeking tenders for the deck chair stances on Portobello beach.

Robert Allan applied for a licence to sell intoxicating liquor from premises at 187 Portobello High Street.
George Gunn was appointed as the new Station Superintendent at Portobello Power Station.

James Angus of 31 Durham Drive was appointed secretary of the Scottish Commercial Travellers’ Friendly Society.

The Co-op were looking for a manageress for their Hardware Department. Any applicants must be fully conversant with the ‘leakage system.’

A. Hamilton of Portobello was the runner up for best rabbit in the Edinburgh Fur Club’s annual show.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 11 Feb 2012, 08:38

On April 9 the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway.

A correspondent, who signed himself ‘Briton Portobello’, wrote to the Scotsman that : “ The German people were reluctant to admit defeat in the last war and the humiliation imposed by the Versailles Treaty was more than they could bear. I personally became conscious of this while on holiday in Germany in the summer of 1936. I had been staying for a few days in one of the picturesque Rhine resorts and on occasion I discussed Anglo-German relations with a german businessman who was staying at my hotel. I recall remarking to him on the great work of Dr. Stresemann in the interests of peace, for which he received the Nobel prize. I was a little surprised when my german friend exclaimed rather bitterly that Stresemann was a traitor to Germany. Subsequent events have shown that to talk of international peace to such a nation is more or less futile, and how to deal with this aggressively minded people at the close of the present war will present the greatest problem this world has yet faced.” (Briton of Portobello was a regular writer to the Scotsman Points of View column, on a range of subjects.)

Two men, James Walls and his lodger John Blair were injured when the coal cellar in the house at 26 Promenade exploded. Both men were in the lobby at the time when the coal cellar door suddenly blew open, there was a loud explosion and both men were thrown backward, scorched by flames. Both were taken to Leith hospital. James Walls was seriously hurt and spent over two hours in the operating theatre. An engine from the London Road Fire Station was called and an enquiry into the original of the blast was ongoing.

Portobello 25th Company of the Boys Brigade were placed third in the Edinburgh Battalion bugling championships.

The Bootmaker’s shop on the corner of Portobello High Street and Tower Street was up for sale.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 12 Feb 2012, 08:32

On May 10 Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister.

Mrs. Bianchi of 40 Brighton Place donated a wonderful collection of old cameos to the Lady Provost’s Comfort Fund. Portobello Amateur Swimming Club donated £13 to the Lord Provost’s Fund.

You could now pick up spare filters for your gas mask from the Town Hall.

Alexander Durkin, 23, of 18 Promenade died after being crushed between two waggons on the railway at Leith.

A long and at time heated debate took place at the Corporation over the opening hours of Portobello Pool. The bone of contention was Sunday opening. The Rev. Dr. Guthrie put forward the case that for the Council to approve the opening of the pool on a Sunday would certainly be to run counter to the Christian tradition and sentiment of the City and would offend the conscience of many of its best citizens. The General Purposes Committee decided by 35 votes to 22 that the pool should open on Sundays from 10a.m. to 9p.m.. The Restaurant, Shop and Snack Bar at the pool would all be put up for rent.

The Tram Company decided to start a new Sunday morning tram car service between Waterloo Place and Portobello Pool.

The Battery Bar at the foot of Kings Road were advertising for a barman, preferably over 40 years old, and a lad about 18 to help out.

McLelland’s Photographic Studio at 20 Promenade were looking for an operator with experience in card negative work.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 13 Feb 2012, 08:21

On May 26 the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk began.

On the same day an advert appeared asking all men resident in Portobello who have handed in their names to the police offices as volunteers to attend the Ramsay Technical School between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m today.This was in order to set up a local defence patrol of volunteers experienced in the use of firearms in case of invasion. They would be known as the Parashooters.

With the retirement of Ernest Adams the Tower Amusements went into liquidation. The business was bought by Erin Deane who announced that he would keep it trading as Tower Amusements.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 14 Feb 2012, 08:23

On July 10 the Battle of Britain began.

Pilot Robert Murgatroyd of 1 Lee Crescent was shot down and killed over enemy territory.
Pilot H. Britton, who was 19, was also killed. He had been a patrol leader with the 14th Portobello Boy Scouts.

Lieutenant Murray Kelman of 51 Park Avenue was reported missing in action.

Sewcond Lieutenant Ramsay Bisset of 5 Duddingston Crescent was being held as a prisoner of war in Germany.

‘Briton of Portobello’ wrote to The Scotsman “Our little country is only a very small part of our vast empire and although it is giving invaluable aid at the present time, I do not think that any passionate call to battle on the part of the Scots would bring victory any nearer. We must treat the whole matter in a rational manner. Rest assured that the moment the German Army attempts to land on British shores our people will rise in a wrath never surpassed in our long and glorious history. Not many today are sitting back saying everything is alright. To outward appearances they may appear indifferent, but in their own hearts they know that a bitter struggle is yet to come. The wishful thinking period is past and it must now be realised that Germany will not collapse suddenly or starve quickly.
They are determined not to repeat November 1918 if they can avoid it. Come what may the Nazis will fight to the bitter end.”

Millar Allan, of 22 Rosefield Avenue registered as conscientious objector on the grounds of his faith, being a member of the Christian Brethren. He was already registered for non-combatant work.

There was a campaign to donate aluminium to the war effort. People with aluminium pots and pans, hot water bottles, cups and vacuum cleaner attachments were asked to take them to the Scavenger’s yard in Pipe Street.

The iron railings around all of the Edinburgh parks, including those in Portobello were removed for melting down to help the war effort.

Mrs. Helen Gray donated her house at 4 Ormelie terrace to the war effort, handing over the keys to the Lord Provost, stipulating that the house should be used as accommodation for RAF officers and their families.

A concert by the pupils of Portobello High School raised £11 for the Lord Provost’s Fund. Mrs Bianchi of 40 Brighton Place donated a further 10 guineas.

G. Robertson and D. Malcolm of Portobello Bowls Club beat Braid in the semi-final of the King George VI Coronation Cup.

The Scotsman noted that over the last year while 396 books on music had been taken out of the Leith library, only 6 had been withdrawn at Portobello. Making all allowances for the fact that Leith is bigger than Portobello and likely therefore to have more singers, pianists, violinists, saxophonists and drummers thronging its streets and filling its houses, they thought Portobello should do something about it. They would grieve for Portobello’s musical soul if it were not for the thought that perhaps the People of Portobello knew such a terrific amount about music that they didn’t really require to read any books about it at all. It might even have been that the 396 books borrowed in Leith were actually written by the gifted musicians of Portobello.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 15 Feb 2012, 08:20

On September 7 the Blitz began.

Arthur Carford of Portobello, who was a medical orderly at the Ministry of Labour was put on trial for conspiracy to defeat the provisions of the National Services (Armed Forces) Act. He was accused of stealing Medical Board grade cards from the office which could be used to exempt men from military service. When arrested as he was laving the offices he had in his possession 12 grade cards and three keys to the premises. He said that he had found the cards in the waste paper basket and intended returning them. He pleaded not guilty, but bail was refused.

At Portobello High School people could study English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian, Economics, Geography, History, Typewriting or Shorthand at evening classes for 7/6d. On the other hand Donald’s Commercial School at 3 Sandford Gardens could teach you Shorthand, Typewriting and Bookkeeping privately.

John Corse, who ran the Portobello Radio Service at 96 High Street became bankrupt.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 16 Feb 2012, 08:22

Second Lieutenant William Stevenson of 37 Melville Street was killed on active service.

Mr. W. Pursell of 8 Brunstane Gardens won second prize for his potatoes at the Royal Caledonian Horticultural show.

It was noted that there were nine vacant allotment plots in Portobello Park. The public were encouraged to use them as part of the war effort.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays A Doctor, a Dietician and a Gardening Expert gave cookery demonstrations a Portobello High School

A Portobello chemist feared that he had given a woman poisonous tablets instead of saccharine. The Police, when notified communicated with the Press and the BBC. The woman was traced within half an hour and the tablets returned. They turned out the be saccharine after all.

The Treasurer’s Committee on Edinburgh Town Council voted 8 to 3 to award a bonus of £1000 to Edwin Seddon, the manager of Portobello Power Station. This was overturned by a full meeting of the Council.

Mr Stuart MacDonald, the manager at the Portobello branch of the Union Bank of Scotland moved to Piershill.

The Co-op was looking for a boot repairer, a good benchman able to patch and finish.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 17 Feb 2012, 08:24

Sergeant A. Romanis of 6 Pitt Street was killed in action.

Peter Kinsey of Portobello was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was the air gunner in an aircraft detailed to test a new type of bomb sight during a patrol over the North Sea. Sixteen enemy vessels were sighted in an enemy port. The plane dived from 3000 feet to 800 feet to attack the vessels in the harbour in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. While making their escape Kinsey attacked an army camp with machine gun fire at almost ground level and then climbed to seek cloud cover out at sea. At this point an attack was made by three Messerschmitts which riddled the aircraft with bullets. wounding all members of the crew, including Kinsey, who continued operating his gun and managed to hold off the enemy, forcing them to break off the engagement until the aircraft was safely back to Britain.

There were complaints that, although householders in Portobello had taken down their garden railings and donated them to the war effort, the Corporation had not et taken down the railings around the Portobello public parks.

Mrs. Davie of the Portobello Sailors’ Home organised a poppy day which raised £156, a record for this type of collection. Portobello Bowling Club raised £65 for the war effort.

Six boys aged between 13 and 14 were ordered to receive six stokes of the birch. They admitted breaking into a kiosk on Portobello Promenade and stealing quantities of cigarettes, matches and chocolates.

Frederick Borthwick of 24 Southfield Place died. Mr. Borthwick was the organist at Windsor Place church, a noted Scottish baritone, who, during the First World War had sung at more than 600 concerts for the troops. He was also the Grand Master at Portobello No. 226 Masonic Lodge.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 18 Feb 2012, 08:31

On December 9 the British began a western desert offensive in North Africa.

The Ramsay Technical Institute at Portobello was converted as a training centre for munitions. The first batch of 40 women began learning how to make bombs. Among their numbers were cashiers, kitchen maids, shop assistants, waitresses and a hairdresser. Eventually thousands of women from across the country went through the training.

Councillor West Russell was appointed the Chief Air Raid warden for Portobello.

In a Broadcast on the BBC’s Star Time programme Sir Harry Lauder lamented the fact that the pier had now been removed at Portobello. In commemoration he sang one of his lesser known numbers The Portobello Lassie.

There was a call for all children under the age of 14 to be immunised against Diptheria. An immunisation centre was set up in the Town Hall.

There was a fire in the newsagent’s shop at 66 Portobello High Street. The newsagent, Thomas Dobson died in the blaze.

Thomas Mitchell of 65 Morton Street died. He had been head of the English Department at Portobello High School and president of the Portobello Burns Club.

Wearing a black toilette with a blue fox cloak, the Lady Provost pledged her continuing support for the Portobello Nursery School and the Toddler’s playground to which the lost children from the beach were taken, perhaps thirty to forty in an afternoon!
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 19 Feb 2012, 08:24

Lord Provost Henry Steele was knighted in the New Years Honours list. Provost Steele, though originally from Ayrshire, had settled in Portobello at the age of 27, taking over one of the potteries and setting up a successful business manufacturing sanitary ware. He had become the Councillor for Portobello in 1932 and had been a prominent member of the Golf, Bowls, Curling and Badminton clubs.

Special demonstrations of fire fighting by boys and girls from Portobello High School were held in the Marine Gardens which it was hoped would bring home to the public the necessity for the adequate organisation of fire watching and fire fighting services in the city.

The City of Edinburgh Fighter Aircraft Fund raised £61, 968 towards the cost of new planes. It was sufficient for 12 aircraft. It was decided to call one of the planes Portobello.

Mr. and Mrs. Nicoll of 32 Durham Square decided to evacuate their 5 year old son William to Canada.

H Lang of 3 Ramsay Place and J.M. Clark of 12 Mentone Avenue both won awards for their fancy pigeons in the Leith Ornithological Society’s show in aid of the Lady Provost’s Fund. A.G. Wann of Portobello got through to the second round of the 100 yards handicap dash at the Powderhall New Year Pedestrian Gala and then went on to come in third in the final, earning himself a £5 prize. In the raffle run by Glasgow Art Union, Mr. W.J. Nine of Portobello won the first prize, valued at £200.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 20 Feb 2012, 08:24

On February 14, 1941 the first units of the German 'Afrika Korps' arrived in North Africa.

It was reported at the annual meeting of the Portobello and Joppa Sick Nursing Association that 5236 visits had been made during the year by the District nurses. There had been an overall loss of £7 on the accounts, but given the war time circumstances this was considered quite satisfactory.

The butter ration was raised to four ounces per week. The price of rabbits was fixed at 10d per lb. No charge could be made for killing, skinning and cleaning.

A small black and tan Shetland collie answering to Billy was lost on Portobello beach. A reward of £2 was being offered by Mrs. Lamb of Duddingston Lodge.

David Davidson of 184 Portobello High Street was fined £1 for not having a metal tablet fixed to his lorry which clearly displayed the price of the coal which he was selling. There was a further fine imposed on John Robinson because the coal sacks which he was carrying from the lorry did not have the price and wight of each clearly marked on the outside of each sacks. The Magistrates took a very strict view of cases of this kind.
Wilfred Brian of 4 Rosefield Avenue was fined £5 for driving his lorry without due care and attention while under the influence of drink causing it to collide with a stationary trailer.

The semi-detached bungalow at 39 Durham Road was up for sale for £685.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 21 Feb 2012, 08:17

On April 6, 1941 the Nazis invaded Greece and Yugoslavia.

Portobello Pool was used to test ways of dealing with incendiary bombs. The most effective was a new product called Incendex. The contrast with the ordinary stirrup pump method was striking. Instead of playing a fine spray around the bomb, Incendex was directed through the jet on to the heart of the fire and the bomb was smothered. It was a pure liquid which could be pumped through a jet or used simply with a garden syringe and on contact with burning metals such as magnesium alloy it formed an immediate non-burning oxide. The swift cooling of the metal rendered the bomb innocuous. Carbide was sealed on contact and could not produce gas. When the tests were carried out watches were ready to check that incendiary bombs could be put out in an average time of less than 20 seconds each.

Proposals were afoot to extend the somewhat cramped marshaling sidings at Portobello to form a modern marshaling yard and the creation of an industrial estate.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 22 Feb 2012, 08:16

On May 10, 1941 Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess flew to Scotland.

Joseph Watson and Arthur Wilde, both of Portobello were reported killed as a result of enemy action.

Women born during 191 were instructed by the Ministry of Labour and National Service to register for employment at Windsor Lodge.

Portobello pool was advertising for male pool attendants. Applicants had to have the Royal Life Saving Certificate and hold the bronze medallion. The pay was £3 per week.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 23 Feb 2012, 08:18

On June 22, 1941 Germany Attacked the Soviet Union

All men born after 1900 were required to register for war duties at Windsor Lodge.

People who were growing their own vegetables and had a surplus were asked to contribute them to the vegetable ‘dump’, from where they would be distributed to those who were short of fresh food. The Portobello ‘dump’ was established at 24 Argyle Terrace.

Four people were killed and more than twenty injured when a bus crashed in to a tram at Portobello. The bus was bound for Port Seton. One of the passengers on the bus had a basket containing two kittens, which she placed on the rack above the back of the driver’s seat. One of the kittens made its way out unnoticed and suddenly dropped down on to the driver’s head. The bus at once swerved and collided violently with the tram which was going in the opposite direction. The side of the bus was ripped off and passengers thrown out on to the road.

At a meeting of the General Assembly of the Unite Free Church The Rev. Wilson of Portobello proposed the motion that War as a method of settling international differences was in opposition to the teaching of Jesus Christ. This was countered by Mr. Mitchell who stated that while there might be an extreme pacifist majority in the Assembly, they certainly did not have a pacifist church.To adopt the proposal they would estrange a large and growing number of their people. The condemnation of what was a defensive war had raised indignation in all quarters. The matter was sent back for further consideration.

A mass meeting of the Edinburgh Womens’ Guild was held in St Philip’s Church to discuss co-operation with the Womens’ Foreign Mission and the Womens’ Temperance Association.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 24 Feb 2012, 08:24

On July 12, 1941 a Mutual Assistance agreement was signed between British and the Soviets.

Squadron Leader James Rankin of 44 Henderson Row, Portobello was awarded the DFC after having shot down eight German aircraft. As he said to The Scotsman: “ There’s a lot to be said for seeing them blow up in the air. For one thing you don’t have to confirm the crash for the intelligence officer.”

Andrew Aitchinson, who lived at 50 Portobello High Street was fatally injured when he was engaged in weeding between the up and down loop lines at Portobello Junction East and was hit by a passenger train.

D. Stewart of Portobello won the Caledonian Horticultural Society open class competition for roses.

Mrs. Ferguson of Roselea, Brighton Crescent had a brand new templeton carpet for sale for £20, while Mr. Gillies of Milton Road had white west highland terrier puppies for sale.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 25 Feb 2012, 08:23

On August 20, 1941 the Nazi siege of Leningrad began.

Women born in 1916 or later were now required to register for national service at Windsor Lodge.

George Harkess of 10 Mentone Avenue was in the dock charged with manslaughter after the bus and tram crash in June. He was accused of not driving with due care and attention. He was remitted for trial at the Sheriff Court.

Samuel Buchan, the senior partner of Buchan’s Portobello Potteries died aged 81, having run the company for over 60 years.

There was considerable concern for bathers due to a substantial amount of broken glass on Portobello beach. Evidently some picnic parties on the sands were throwing away the bottles when they had finished their lemonade instead of carrying them away and mischievous boys were using the bottle as targets for stone throwing. The cases of cut feet which had had to be attended to over the summer had been exceptionally numerous.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 26 Feb 2012, 08:17

On September 3, 1941 the Nazis first used the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

At his trial in the Sheriff Court George Harkess was found not guilty of causing the deaths of five persons and the injury of 33 others through driving without due care and attention.
The Sheriff substitute J. A. Gilchrist concluded that the accident had occurred as a result of the cat jumping on to Mr. Harkess’ head and fixed its claws into his face.. Harkess testified that the cat dropping on to him was a shock. He instinctively put both hands up to get it off his head and lost control of the bus. It transpired at the trial that among the dead was James Millar of Port Seton, who was the person who had placed the basket with the kittens in it on the rack above the driver’s seat.

All men up to the age of 60 were now required to register for civil defence duties.

The Revd David Scott, the minister of St. Philip’s church, died aged 72.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 27 Feb 2012, 08:18

On October 2, 1941 the German advance on Moscow began.

Wireless operator John Miller of 45 Bath Street was reported killed in air operations over enemy territory.

James Montgomery of 35 Tower Street, who worked the nightshift at Portobello Power Station, appeared in court accused of stealing £3. Another worker had hung up his jacket in the changing room and gone for a shower. After he returned he discovered that his pay packet, containing £3, had been removed from his jacket pocket. He had reported the theft to the police who interviewed the men on his shift. Montgomery admitted taking the £3 and produced them. He was fined £2.

Thomas Jackson was found guilty of having been under the influence of drink while in charge of a lorry in Portobello High Street. He argued that he should retain his licence as he did vital work on behalf of the Government. Sheriff MacDonald said that if the Government required his services so badly they could do something about it themselves, confiscated Jackson’s licence and fined him £10.

Annie Godley applied for the liquor licence for 62 Bath Street to be transferred to her, following the death of her husband John Godley. At the same court William Elliott sought a licence for the Hamilton Lodge on Portobello Promenade.

On behalf of the Scottish Department of Agriculture Miss M.S. Munro organised the setting up of a poultry keeper’s club in Portobello. Each member would be allowed to keep up to 12 birds and would receive 2oz. of food for each bird per day.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 28 Feb 2012, 08:18

December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and the following day Britain declared war on Japan.

Acting Wing Commander James Rankin of 44 Henderson Row, who had previously been awarded the DFC and bar, was awarded the DSO. In the citation it noted that he was an outstanding wing leader who had displayed exceptional ability, determination and courage on all occasions.

Sergeant D. Broomfield, also of Portobello, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

Thomas Spence, the chemist who lived at 21 Lee Crescent left £8,296 in his will.

During Warship Week over £21,240 was collected in Portobello for the war effort.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 29 Feb 2012, 08:18

On January 26, 1942 -the first American forces arrived in Great Britain.

Bombardiers James Graham and his brother William both of 36 Argyle Crescent were killed on active service in the Middle East. Gerard Nicholson of 43 Argyle Crescent was also killed on active service in the Middle East.


Wing Commander James Rankin, the much honoured pilot from 44 Henderson Row was honoured further by the Lord Provost at a special luncheon in the City Chambers.

There was a free showing of the film “Gardens At War” in St. Philip’s church hall and a talk by Miss Cynthia Harrison and Miss Lilias Forrest on Gardening, vegetable cookery and dietetics.

All boys of 17 were now required to register for military service at the offices in Windsor Place.

14 year old Margaret Vinestock went missing from her home in Portobello. Ten days later she was found in Manchester.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 01 Mar 2012, 08:29

Captain Frank Allison of the Burma Rifles who lived at 11 Joppa Road had previously been reported killed, but out of the blue his mother received a telegram to say that he was alive and well.

Thomas Williamson, who lived at 25 Tower Street and was the bandmaster of the 25th Company Portobello Boys Brigade, died suddenly.

David Archibald of 25 Argyle Crescent intimated that in future he would not be responsible for any debts unless personally contracted, which leaves one wondering who had run up debts in his name. An early case of identity fraud perhaps.

The nursing home at 28 Brighton Place was advertising for a nurse. She had to be over 30, domesticated, and a Protestant. The wages were £60 a year.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 02 Mar 2012, 08:17

Eric Lomax of 11 Bedford Terrace was reported missing in Malaya. Before the war he had worked in the Portobello post office.

Sub Lieutenant Ian Dunse of Portobello was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

A recruiting centre for the Home Guard Anti-Aircraft Battery was opened at the Ramsay Technical Institute. Nearly 600 people applied.

The registration in Portobello of sixteen year olds for war work began.

Portobello St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps came first in the national open competition for theoretical and practical knowledge of First Aid. They scored 155 marks out of a possible 200.

In The County Cinema, Mr. Cong En Lim gave a talk about the impact that the Japanese invasion of China had had on his country.

Celebrations were held in Windsor Place church for Mr. James Boyd who had completed 50 years service as an Elder.

If you wanted a fine toned player piano in a mahogany case, there was one going cheap at 262 Portobello High Street. Or if you wanted a whole house, 4 Ormelie Terrace could be had for £500. Or you could get 37 Regent Street for £415 or even 41 Regent Street for £275.
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Re: Porty at War: World War II

Postby rathbone » 03 Mar 2012, 08:18

On May 30, 1942 The first mass bombings of Germany by the British began.

Wing Commander James Rankin, DSO, DFC and Bar, of 44 Henderson Row told The Scotsman: “ We saw between 30 and 40 Huns. About 12 tried to jump on us as we started for home and the fight was pretty fierce. There was a dog fight for a minute or two, and then the Huns scattered and made off in ones and twos. We chased some back towards France and I gave one a long burst, but did not see what happened because three more came down and my No.2 and myself had to break away. Later more Huns had a crack at us and fighting lasted until we were 12 miles from the English coast.”

Work began to remove all steel railing, posts, chains, bollards and gates from all properties in Portobello. These were being collected by the Ministry of Supplies for use in the national war effort. Owners were expected to make a free gift of these items and no claim for compensation would ordinarily be entertained.

It was announced that postal deliveries of parcels to Portobello would now only take place on Fridays.

Because of shortage of coal, Portobello Baths and the public washhouse would no longer open in the mornings.

The Ministry of Home Security decided that Portobello open-air pool could be re-opened, but not for bathing purposes. It was decided that the premises should be used for band performances, concert parties, and physical fitness displays.
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