A look back at Edinburgh’s Patrick Thomson’s - ‘The Shopping Centre of Scotland’

Fans of American singer Perry Como queue outside Patrick Thomsons department store in the High Street for tickets to his Edinburgh concert in January 1975.

Fans of American singer Perry Como queue outside Patrick Thomsons department store in the High Street for tickets to his Edinburgh concert in January 1975.

8
Have your say

BEFORE the Carlton Hotel arrived on North Bridge in 1984, there was an Edinburgh institution.

Patrick Thomson’s was once able to lay claim to the title of Edinburgh’s most popular store. First established in 1889 as a small haberdashery and drapery store on South Bridge, it lasted until 1906 when the company relocated over the road to North Bridge. The extra space in the new building enabled the company to considerably increase the variety of its wares.

A view of the exterior of Patrick Thomson's on the North Bridge in Edinburgh, taken in April 1965

A view of the exterior of Patrick Thomson's on the North Bridge in Edinburgh, taken in April 1965

Patrick Thomson Ltd joined a long list of department stores in Edinburgh which at one time included Maule & Son (later Binns/House of Fraser), RW Forsyth, both on Princes Street, J&R Allan and Peter Allan on South Bridge, Goldbergs at Tollcross, Parkers on Bristo Street and the mighty Jenners. Shoppers ‘up the bridges’ were once as numerous as Princes Street is today.

Patrick Thomson, or P.T.’s as it became affectionately known, was marketed as ‘The Shopping Centre of Scotland’. At P.T.’s consumers had access to a wide selection of some of the latest fashions and trends for both ladies and gents in Edinburgh. Across the store’s 60 departments, P.T.’s also sold boots & shoes, furniture, carpets, millinery & costumes, drapery and toys.

Customers could also relax in the Palm Court restaurant, with its grand views over Edinburgh, while admiring the pleasant tones of the in-house orchestra. You could even get your hair cut at P.T.’s – atop a carousel horse, allegedly.

READ MORE: Lost Edinburgh - Patrick Thomson Ltd

Exterior of Patrick Thomsons department store on North Bridge Edinburgh, November 1971.

Exterior of Patrick Thomsons department store on North Bridge Edinburgh, November 1971.

North Bridge is closed to traffic as a crane delivers an Otis escalator to Patrick Thomsons department store in September 1971. The escalator had to be fed in through the roof of the building.

North Bridge is closed to traffic as a crane delivers an Otis escalator to Patrick Thomsons department store in September 1971. The escalator had to be fed in through the roof of the building.

North Bridge in Edinburgh is closed to traffic when a crane delivers a steel beam, part of Patrick Thomson's new escalators, in August 1971. Pedestrians stop to watch.

North Bridge in Edinburgh is closed to traffic when a crane delivers a steel beam, part of Patrick Thomson's new escalators, in August 1971. Pedestrians stop to watch.

Back to the top of the page