Submitted by Editor on Sun, 14/02/2021 - 09:32



Before Bailie Waterston, Edinburgh City Police Court, to-day, a young, smart-looking fellow named Percy Roberts, and Vera Watson or Roberts, both residing in Northumberland Place, and Jeanie Morrison, residing in Cumberland Street, Edinburgh, were charged with having, on 2d inst., in the house in Northumberland Place occupied by Roberts, stolen a gold watch from an ironfounder residing in Bathgate. The accused pleaded not guilty.

The complainer stated that he came through to Edinburgh on Saturday last, and at three in the afternoon he was in West Register Street and saw Morrison there. While speaking to her the other two accused joined them. Thereafter they all adjourned to a hotel, and while there he arranged to go home with the girls to Northumberland Street. The male accused did not go with them.


After coming out of the house he missed his watch and money. Subsequently he saw the accused outside, the man running up one side of Nelson Street and the girls running up another. The complainer went after the girls, while a cabinetmaker who saw the male accused running along Abercromby Place towards Dublin Street, gave chase and captured him.

The male accused came very quietly along with his captor to where the complainer was standing with the girls. Roberts then turned to the man who had caught him and accused him of stealing the watch, and at this point the detectives came forward. The watch was afterwards found in an area in Abercromby Place.

It was stated by the police witnesses that the complainer had said that Morrison had nothing to do with the theft. The male accused in the witness-box denied having been in Northumberland Place while the complainer was there. After going down a part of the way with the complainer and the girls, he turned back to town. He returned later, but was never near the house. The girls admitted having been with the complainer. but denied all knowledge of the theft.

The magistrate admonished and dismissed the accused Morrison, but sent the others to prison for 60 days each. On hearing the sentence the woman Roberts swooned in the dock, and had to be removed to the cells.

Edinburgh Evening News, 7 August 1902




The climax to a very busy and unfortunately eventful week for the Edinburgh Fire Brigade was reached early yesterday morning when the Brigade were called out to extinguish a very alarming outbreak which had occurred in a large tenement in the most densely populated part of Leith Street.

The tenement consists of four storeys and a basement fronting Leith Street and three flats on the lower level facing Greenside Row. The east portion is of a somewhat dilapidated description, but divided into one-roomed houses constitutes one of those “hives” which are an unfortunate and sometimes disastrous feature of nearly all slum properties.

The actual scene of the outbreak was the warehouse of Messrs E. Köhler & Son, musical instrument makers and publishers, 101 Leith Street, situated three storeys above the level of Greenside Row, and one below Leith Street, extensively used for the storage of printed music.

A chimney fire which reached down the whole of the eight storeys of the building was the primary cause. Quantities of burning soot and plaster fell into a fireplace in the warehouse and although the fireplace was protected by a sheet of iron this ultimately became so hot that it set fire to the bundles of music with which the room was packed.

The outbreak was discovered about seven o’clock, and although the brigade tamed out with its usual smartness, the fire had assumed ominous proportions when they arrived. Dense clouds of smoke were being thrown off, and effectually prevented the firemen from getting to the seat of the outbreak for some time.

fire helmet

Considerably aided by the smoke helmet,[1] however, they ultimately succeeded in locating the outbreak, but the outlook was so alarming that Mr Pordage, who was in charge, fearing a collapse of the floors, gave orders to clear all the dwelling-houses above the fire and the two flats underneath. This was quickly done by the police, although amid some excitement, but fortunately the brigade were able to confine the outbreak chiefly to Messrs Köhler’s warehouse after working several hours. The warehouse was gutted.

The occupants of the Leith Street houses were afterwards allowed to return, but seven single-roomed houses were in such a dangerous condition that it was decided not to allow the 41 occupants to return to them, and they were housed by the police in Grassmarket lodging-houses. It was fully two o’clock in the afternoon before the fire engines were withdrawn.

The damage is estimated to amount to about £750, which is covered by insurance.[2]

Edinburgh Evening News, 25 August 1902

[1] Fire protection hoods, cooled by water and with an air supply, began to appear in the UK around 1900. Image: Wikipedia, accessed 14.12.20.

[2] The evacuated residents had evidently been living about six to a room on average. The value of the lost stock would be worth approximately £58,600 today. Image: Creative Commons, accessed 28.11.20.


CHARWOMEN.—Wanted, two respectable women a few hours daily; must be sober. Apply, between 10 and 11, Café Royal, West Register Street.

Scotsman, 3 September 1902




Before Sheriff-Substitute Maconochie, in the Edinburgh City Police Court yesterday, Charles Tod, a newsvendor,[3] residing at Paisley Close, High Street, was charged with having on Saturday assaulted a waiter in the Old Ship Hotel, East Register Street, by kicking him on the left eye. Tod pleaded guilty.

Sir Henry Littlejohn reported that the waiter would be off work for ten days or so. The kick was so close to the eye as to endanger the eyesight.

The Public Prosecutor said the accused had been selling papers. He had to be ejected from the bar, and it was while that was being done he kicked the man. Sentence of thirty days’ imprisonment was passed.

Scotsman, 1 October 1902

[3] Street newsvendors seem to have been regarded as generally disreputable; see EEN 11.4.02. Image: Wikimedia Commons, accessed 16.12.20.



RIETZ.—At Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany, on the 27th of September, Gustave Rietz, of the Continental, Edinburgh, aged 58.[4]

Scotsman, 2 October 1902

[4] See EEN (20.11.02).


A young lad, named Thomas Bray was in Edinburgh Sheriff Criminal Court to-day sent to prison for 21 days for the theft of a watch and chain from a man in West Register Street, Edinburgh on the 1st inst.

Edinburgh Evening News, 3 October 1902