Edinburgh In The 1930s: Old Photos & Film

Scotland’s impressive and ancient capital city, Edinburgh, has long captured the eye of filmmakers and photographers. With regular official visits from members of the royal family, fascinated tourists flocking to Edinburgh’s many local attractions, and the city’s Corporation all providing reasons to pick up a camera, this city enjoys a marvellous visual record of the 1930s.

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Cities Of Britain – Edinburgh No. 5 (1931)

The Lord Provost the Rt. Hon. Thomas L.L.D. provided the commentary on this British Pathé film from 1931, which lasts three minutes.

Edinburgh’s First Royal “Freewoman” (1930)

Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood was the daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. She was also the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She had a career of charity work and royal duties. Family life revolved around her husband Viscount Lascelles and their two children. At the age of 67, she died of a heart attack in the grounds of her home, Harewood House near Leeds in Yorkshire.

In this film from 1930, the 33 year old HRH Princess Mary received Freedom of the city. Then she officially opened a new housing estate. It all happened in front of a sizable and seated outside audience.

Prince George Aka Prince George In Edinburgh (1930-1939)

On 22 September 1932, two years before he became Duke of Kent, HRH Prince George came to open the new site for George Watson’s College at Colinton Road. 

The school’s long standing premises, which were increasingly cramped for educational requirements, had been sold so that the Infirmary next door could expand. 

The new building was constructed in a neo-classical style, sandstone-faced, and built in a two-storey H shape around a large central Assembly Hall.

HRH Prince George was the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. His eldest brother briefly became King Edward VIII in 1936 before abdicating for marriage to Mrs Simpson. Then the next eldest son was crowned King George VI (although his real first name was Albert).

Prince George’s life was brief, dying in a military air crash on 25 August 1942, at the age of 39. By that time he had served in the Royal Navy, worked briefly as a civil servcant, and then joined the Royal Navy.

He was survived by his widow, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, and their three young children Prince Edward, Duke of Kent; Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy; and Prince Michael of Kent.

Royal Visit Edinburgh, 1930s – Film 61091

King George V and Queen Mary visited the city a number of times. Therefore, it’s not clear what year this film was made. There are nice clean shots of the royal couple, the many attending dignitaries, and a glimpse of the 1930s press scrum.

Edinburgh Scotland, 1930s – Film 33647

Just over two minutes looking at the traffic and pedestrians in the familiar streets and locations of Scotland’s capital city in the 1930s. 

Locations include

  • Princes Street
  • Princes Street Gardens
  • Robert Burns monument
  • St Giles Church
  • Calton Hill
  • Holyrood House
  • Edinburgh castle

Edinburgh Corporation Transport 1936 part 1

The first part of a 30 minute silent film showing the good works of the city’s Transport Departments. Here we look at the factory making the buses.

Edinburgh Corporation Transport 1936 part 2

The second part of a silent film about the city’s transport system focusses on the tramway extension from Braids to Fairmilehead.

The orderly queues of people waiting to get on public transport are breathtaking. Everywhere the air seems full of smog.

The parcels department appears to employ young boys. At a large house, a uniformed maid deals with the parcel delivery.

Edinburgh, 1930’s – Film 93919

A short clip demonstrating that busy traffic is not a new invention – though these 1930s streets seem packed with passenger services for the public.

Edinburgh 1936

1936 saw the founding of the Edinburgh Cine and Video Society. 50 years later they invited Newcastle film makers to visit for their Golden Jubilee. 

Their guests arrived with a gift – this film. It was made in Edinburgh by Mr. George Cumin of Newcastle, in the years 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1937.

Hundreds of people go about their daily lives, in a variety of locations which are identified on screen. One shot shows the Picture House on Princes Street. It’s headlining the film ‘A Star is Born’, released to cinemas in April 1937.

1936 – Scotland in Colour

Rosie Newman’s film from 1936 is in crisp colour. Delightful small details include the new traffic lights signage. 

1930’s tour in Scotland. Film 3116

This silent footage of a 1930s tour of Scotland includes a look at several city locations.

King Penguins in the Zoo, 1930’s – Film 261

Perhaps not the most entertaining film of either penguins or the zoo. But this was filmed at the city’s zoo in the 1930s. Furthermore, we get to see a traditional zookeeper in action at the end!