Five lost Edinburgh shops you may remember

As a rise in online shopping continues to contribute to a decrease in footfall to Edinburgh’s high street shops, we take a look at the history of some of the capital’s lost, but fondly remembered stores.


For more than a quarter of a century, Goldbergs department store stood proudly at High Riggs in Tollcross.

The flashy store was ahead of its time when it opened in 1960. As a modern construction on five floors, with roof garden, nursery and menagerie, its innovative design, with copper sculptures at either side of the entrance, moved it on from the dreary department stores of old.

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It also boasted automatic doors and long escalators and sold a variety of fashion and other goods across five floors. Stressed out parents could take advantage of the store’s built in crèche facility.

Goldbergs was intended to be the showpiece in a new road system for Tollcross, but the new roads were never built.

Competition from elsewhere in Edinburgh, particularly the new St James Centre at the East End of Princes Street in the 1970s, made trading conditions difficult.

Goldbergs finally closed in 1990.

John Menzies

A place to pick up your magazines, books, office supplies, or stationary sets before the new school term, John Menzies was first opened to the public in 1832, sitting proudly at 61 Princes Street.

Known affectionately by locals as Menzies, the shop became the first Edinburgh bookstore to sell issues of The Scotsman over the counter in 1833.

A year later John Menzies was granted exclusive rights in the east of Scotland to Charles Dickens’ first novel Pickwick Papers and by 1850 turnover had reached £8,148 - around £600,000 in today’s apmoney.

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The store closed between 1859 and 1928 before making its return to Princes Street and in 1973, with turnover at an all-time high, John Menzies opened its flagship store at 107-108 Princes Street.

The store became synonymous as a vendor of records, toys and games, in addition to its traditional range of books, magazines and stationery and was immortalised in Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting.

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In 1998 the retailer sold off its store to rival WH Smith for £68 million.


In 1894, drapers Robert Maule & Son first opened the doors to its department store, which ran from 146-148 Princes Street and 1-5 Hope Street.

Described as “one of the largest and best-appointed drapery house, furnishing and fashion emporiums in Scotland,” Maules attracted huge crowds, with shoppers flocking to the store, which boasted - a first for Edinburgh - tearooms and electric lifts.

The slogan “meet me at Maules” became an instant catchphrase and symbolised a new way of life for Edinburgh locals.

By 1928 the business had become a PLC and expanded, but when Sir Robert Maule junior died in 1931, the firm was acquired by H Binns & Son Co Ltd and had one of many name changes.

Patrick Thomson Ltd

Marketed as ‘the shopping centre of Scotland,’ Patrick Thomsons was first established in 1889 as a small haberdashery and drapery store on South Bridge, before moving over the road to a much larger premises on South Bridge in 1906.

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P.T’s (as it was affectionately known) was considered to be quite an upmarket establishment, offering fine fashion choices for the ladies and gents of the city. The store also sold a wide range of items, from furniture and carpets, through to toys and drapery across its 60 departments.

Christmas celebrations at P.T’s became legendary, with huge crowds swarming to get a glimpse of Santa. After being acquired by the House of Fraser in 1952, it eventually was given the name change of Arnotts in 1976 before its eventual closure in 1982.

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The high-class Carlton Hotel now sits in the site of Patrick Thomson.


A shopping institute - Woolworths was an instant hit with city dwellers when it opened its Princes Street store in 1926, opposite the North British Hotel.

The iconic store hit its peek in the 1960s, a time when many Edinburgh locals spent their weekly pocket money on pic ‘n’ mix, the latest knick knacks, and adults enjoyed a drink or snack in the tartan-floored restaurant on the top floor.

The Princes Street store lasted until 1984, with other Edinburgh branches closing down when the company went into administration in 2008.

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