The History of Leith

November 25, 2004

Bits and Pieces 1939/45

Thanks for putting my article about the Garden Shed “on line” I hope someone may read about it and remember.I have another item which may interest Leithers if I can claim your indulgence,

On August 31st 1939(age10) I was taken from Fraser Grove to the City Hospital with Scarlet Fever.In consequence I missed the Wardie Primary Evacuation to the Wormit area of Fife.My Register teachr Miss Fraser was with the group.I was to join my Classmates once a reallocation of accommodation was provided for my mother myself and a classmate Jack Thomas.We were literally dumped in a farm bothy at Priory Farm Gauldry the farmer a Mr W Gray was singularly uncooperative and was only concerned with the money he was paid by the Billetin Officer!Imagine no electricity,well water,no running water Tilley Lamps and a dry lavatory next the pigsty.Roy Wilkie another classmate from Boswall area was ensconced in the local empty Manse with his mother and two sisters and all mod cons,yet they were only 100 yds from the Farm !That apart We enjoyed the lovely Autumn of’39 and even got paid 2/6 (25p today) at the “tattie howkin”

When Jack Thomas’ mother came up to see the conditions her son was living in she took him back to Edinburgh the same day.My mother and I were taken in by relatives in Aberdeen who heard of our plight and we stayed with them through the Bombings until 1943.Then in order to further my Secondary Education I became a pupil at Trinity Academy.
Several of the Teachers were retirees in thier 70’s.and the standard of teacing was on hindsight “POOR” Our entire Class IIId failed the 1945 Lowers and the Rector Albert Weir had alot of expaining to do to the H.M.Inspectors and some very irate Parents!!
As I had a job waiting for me with theSMT at Roseburn I left instead of re sitting and took my Certificate two years on at Broughton night school.

Two ncidents come to mind when I think of Trinity both involved the Music Teacher Miss Caldwell.
(1)She was acquainted with Dr Herbert Wiseman who did the bbc Music for Schools broadcasts.He visited our Class of 15 yr olds to hold a “masterclass”.I sat next to a James Jeffrey(now dead) a bit of a sopranohe was asked to sing the first verse of Nut Brown Maiden for the VIP.He refused and was told to stand outside the room,Wisemans gaze fell on me”sing Wee Cooper o’Fife”,I refused saying that it was absolute gibberish!!Athis Miss Caldwell intervened and ordered James and I down to Rector Weir’s Roomwith the reccommendation we receive six of the belt each.(the only time I ever received corporal punishment,but it was worth it).Subdued we returned to the applause of our classmates as they did’nt enjoy the VIP either.
(2)Caldwell had strong views on Musical Culture.On the day after VE Day in 1945 we were invited to bring our own records to be played on the Radiogram which the janitor set up in the old Gym.I think I took along a military band record which seemed appropriate.Ian Oldham a classmate had some Glenn Miller record he’d got from an American serviceman-Caldwell got up switched it of and put on some awful Country dance tune.

Well there it is if it is of any interest for you excellent site please use it.

Now I have gone on long enough!!


Ed Thomson (AGE75)

(I must sincerely thank Mr Thomson for permission to use this article)

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