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Moving Edinburgh trams feature in fascinating vintage video

Moving Edinburgh trams feature in fascinating vintage video

Fascinating vintage video footage of Edinburgh shows how much the city has changed - and how much it has stayed the same - over the decades.

A remarkable series of film clips, sometimes of unknown provenance, has been posted to YouTube by Pathe UK.

The films show prominent Edinburgh landmarks such as Calton Hill, Arthurs Seat and Princes Street as well as insights into the International Festival and the Fringe from years gone by.

Some clips show trams moving along a bustling Princes Street, filled with people and cars.

Edinburgh in the 1930s

British Pathé

This must be one of the first attempts to market Edinburgh to tourists using film. Narrated by the Lord Provost of the time, it shows trams moving along Princes Street, in an era before the Waverley Market had been built. The clip also includes some shots of a Holyrood Park that seems remarkably devoid of gorse bushes.

Proving that the rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow goes back many, many decades, the Provost defends Princes Street against accusations from Glaswegians that it's just 'half a street.'

Princess Street 1910-1920

British Pathé

This simple short film, dated 1910-1920, looks west from the Balmoral Hotel.

It shows the Scott Monument, trams and horse drawn carriages running along Princess Street.

Edinburgh in the 1950s

British Pathé

In the 50s, the park's staff wore ties. In fact everyone was better dressed.

But anyone looking at the Princes Street footage might remark that some things have not changed. It was apparently already packed with buses and motor cars, and cyclists even weave in and out of the traffic, just as they do today.

The clip also shows an aerial view of Holyrood, but in the area where the parliament and the Dumbiedykes flats are today, then there was a brewery and a gas works visible in the film.

Another clip shows that the Edinburgh International Festival opening was somewhat more formal in the 50s. Then, The Duke of Edinburgh opened the festival after a formal procession and service in St Giles. Afterwords he praised the city fathers for the programme that they'd laid on, adding: "I'm sure that none of us here will come to any harm if we indulge in this sort of fare."

British Pathé

Queen dials Edinburgh direct, for the first time.

British Pathé

This film clip shows a very young looking Queen making a little bit of telephone history by direct dialling the Lord Provost of Edinburgh from Bristol.

It informs viewers that a new design of landline telephone will soon be 'available in seven different colours'.

Who could have predicted the invention of the internet and mobile phones would have on communications in the Queen's lifetime?

Edinburgh in the 1960s

British Pathé

By the 1960s, film had graduated to glorious technicolor. This ten-minute film celebrating the success of the city festivals gives a whirlwind tour of some of the shows on offer in 1963. It would appear that the Fringe included 'very lively' contemporary dance shows even then.

Watch more

These short film clips have all been taken from the Pathe UK film archive. You can find and search more of their archive films on their website.

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