THEY are the rare and vulnerable highlights of the Capital’s historic hostelries – now they have been captured for the enjoyment and education of generations to come.
Bosses at heritage agency Historic Scotland have announced they are to launch a postcard book filled with one-off photos of the unique interiors of Edinburgh’s best-loved pubs.
From city centre favourite The Cafe Royal to lesser-known watering holes such as Leslies with its 19th century “jug bar”, the book provides a fascinating portrait of Edinburgh pub culture.
Elizabeth McCrone, head of listings at Historic Scotland, said: “We wanted to be able to offer a fun and quirky celebration of our historic drinking environments – one that emphasises listed buildings are places we work, live and spend our leisure time in.”
Ms McCrone said the photo-book – the first of a series focusing on aspects of Scotland’s heritage – would feature images of the interiors of The Guildford Arms, Bennets Bar, The Central Bar, The Café Royal, Mathers Bar, The Kenilworth, Ryrie’s and Leslies Bar.
Available to buy at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, the book will also be stocked by mainstream retailers later in the year. And heritage bosses hope it will spark an interest among the general public as traditional pubs fight to compete with cut-price alcohol sold in supermarkets and the attractions of contemporary style bars.
Ms McCrone said: “I would hope that all of these pubs are still there in years to come –this postcard book just helps to show how special they are.
“The boom time for the idea of a public drinking house was really between 1880 and 1910. So many of the features you find in these historic pubs are increasingly rare – from the big elaborate mirrors to the spirit casks and whisky taps, which are unique to Scotland.
“Today, pubs tend to have a big, open-plan design and you can see right round them. Whereas in the 19th and at the turn of the 20th centuries, you would have had little snug rooms off to the side – a series of smaller, partitioned rooms that you would drink in.
“And at Leslies you still have the jug bar – a family entrance or hatch – where women and children could buy alcohol and take it home to whoever wanted a drink.”
Publication of the postcard book has been hailed by the Capital’s traditional pub owners, who said it would help to attract visitors and residents to their premises.
Shirley Thorburn, the manager at Leslies Bar, said: “There are so many original features here that we have fought hard to keep.
“There are a lot of people in the city who do not know the full history or the background of Leslies, and it would be nice if this book meant they were able to pick up a few pieces of information that maybe they weren’t aware of.”