Nostalgia: Flooding puts a dampener on Capital summers

IT HAS not been the barbecue summer any of us had hoped for - especially with this week's heavy rainfall.

As the skies opened, torrential downpours left tourists running for cover in shop doorways, searching for the nearest plastic poncho seller they could find.

Thankfully we have not witnessed anything on a scale shown in these images where Edinburgh summers were ruined by flooding.

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Huddled by the side of the pavement, shoppers did everything they could to avoid the flood waters on Princes Street back in July 1986.

Nearly half an inch of rain poured down in the space of half an hour, leaving holidaymakers and office workers soaked as they took a lunch-time stroll.

The rain stopped play for many sporting activities that day, but a garden party for 8000 guests at the Palace of Holyroodhouse went ahead as planned.

Jenners did particularly well, with lengthy queues forming as people rushed to buy hats and umbrellas.

The summer of 1965 was far worse for residents however, particularly in Craigmillar where many pensioners were told they had to leave their homes for safety as flood waters began to rise.

Sandbags piled at the doors of the properties in Greendykes Crescent failed to keep the waters at bay, so the emergency services launched a rescue operation.

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But the next day, along with children from the neighbourhood, they were back in their homes helping with the clear-up as firemen pumped the water away.

The flooding had started when the nearby Niddrie Burn burst its banks after a culvert became blocked by debris carried in the fast-flowing water.

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It took just 15 minutes for Princes Street Gardens to be covered in water in July 1953, resulting in workmen having to pull out their wellies to tackle the damage for many days afterwards. On the same day, buses made their way through inches of flooding in Slateford.

But there was fun to be had in August 1948 when heavy rain caused flooding in Roseburn, as these local children who decided to take a dip show.

'We found wood all over Mile'

WHEN retired joiner Ian Smith opened last Saturday's Evening News, he was shocked to see himself staring back from the pages.

This picture of him, centre, and two former colleagues, busy preparing Edinburgh Castle for the 1962 Royal Military Tattoo, brought back many happy memories though.

"It would take us four weeks to get everything ready," the 83-year-old from Drylaw recalls. "But sometimes we couldn't work, particularly if there were rehearsals and we couldn't hammer. We'd have to work late - often until after 8pm."

As a charge hand joiner with the city firm D Wilkie, Ian and his specialist team covered metal scaffolding with wood to allowing seating to be put in place. They would then build three huts - one for the Tattoo commentator and the BBC, and two more for the press and VIPS. "The wood couldn't be fixed to the steel though, so we had to use wire," the former Broughton resident explains. "We were always shattered when we got home at night."

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Ian worked at the Tattoo for seven years, recalling one year when bad weather caused havoc with preparations. "There was a bad storm overnight, and we found sheets of hardwood all over the High Street," he laughs.

He remembers how padded seats from the City Chambers were carried up the Royal Mile for the Tattoo, to allow royalty to have something comfortable to sit on.

Since seeing his picture in the Evening News, he has made contact with former colleague Kenneth Howells, now 66 (pictured on the right).