Historic photos of Edinburgh show the farming past of the capital’s western communities

West Edinburgh is known for its green residential areas which are teeming with local businesses.

But what many locals forget is that the area was once made up mostly of farmland and its associated businesses.

Corstorphine as a rural village only officially joined Edinburgh in the 1920s as part of the capital’s expansion plans.

At that time the small village, together with the areas of Broomhouse, East Craigs and South Gyle, was mainly agricultural land.

New photos from the Corstorphine Trust archives, which have been shared with Edinburgh Liveshow the area as it once was.

The images, which range from the 1930s to the 1960s, illustrate the rural history of the now residential communities.

In the first image shared, a farmer can be seen leading his sheep on Sycamore Terrace heading north towards Bowling Green in 1930.

The houses to the right of the picture are said to still be there.

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The Shepherd’s Head is just over the corner of the Bowling Green wall with a spotted cottage in the back center.

The second image appears to show the Gylemuir Road pigsties and dairies.

The Trust believe the image was taken from the roof or a high-level window of the Back of Lamonts (Securex) building which was once the site of PC World.

Shepherd leading his flock at Corstorphine.
Shepherd leading his flock at Corstorphine.

The photo, believed to have been taken in the early 1960s, looks south and the houses downstairs are at street level in Gylemuir Road, roughly where electric car charging stations are placed in the car park Tesco.

These pigsties and logs were long, narrow strips of land.

The bands reached Gylemuir Road on what is now the Tesco car park and stopped around where the Tesco petrol station is now.

The former pigsties and dairies located near the current location of the Tesco hypermarket.
The former pigsties and dairies located near the current location of the Tesco hypermarket.

In the middle of the picture you can make out the Weterbroom houses and the school.

The next place is “selling pigs”.

After the Second World War, Mr. Willie Gray of South Gyle Farm established a remarkable herd of “big white hogs” – “The Gyle Herd”.

Annual Sale Draft of Mr. Willie Gray of South Gyle Farm.
Annual Sale Draft of Mr. Willie Gray of South Gyle Farm.

These pigs have won championships all over the UK.

The annual draft sales were held in May each year, and the photo is of the draft sale on Thursday 24 May 1951 at South Gyle Farm.

The man in the dark suit is Willie Gray and the man next to him in the white coat and black hat, holding a book, is the auctioneer.

Picking potatoes at Broomhouse.
Picking potatoes at Broomhouse.

The sale that day had 65 tuberculin-tested Large White IN-Pig gilts and eight tuberculin-tested Large White boars.

Next we have an image from 1953 which shows potato picking on fields which are now filled with Broomhall houses.

The gray slate roofs behind the horse are the cottages on Ladywell Avenue which are next to the lane that crosses Dovecot Road.

Crop being collected at East Craigs.
Crop being collected at East Craigs.

The final image shows the farmers field in East Craigs where a farmer harvests a crop.

The image resembles the Mid Yoken pub emblem found on Craigmount Brae today.

Numerous farms, dairies, piggeries and market gardens existed until the 1970s.

Let us know if you remember any of the businesses or sites from your childhood.

About Keneth T. Graves

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