Nostalgia: The glamour and the glitz

EDINBURGH has long been known throughout the world as a leading capital of arts, entertainment and culture, with a history of famous writers, poets and artists stretching back to birth of the city itself.

However, things really kicked off in the post-war era with the founding of the Edinburgh Festival in 1947 and, as our pictures here show, the city's new found joie-de-vivre had really kicked in by the 1950s.

This fascinating era has been brought back to life in a new book called Edinburgh and the Lothians in the 1950s, which looks at many archive photographs held by the Evening News and The Scotsman.

During the war, cinemas had provided some much needed relief from the darkness engulfing much of the world. People would flock to picture houses such as The Regent, The Picturedrome, New Palace or The OP to see the stars on the silver screen, but in the 1950s many actually got to meet their idols face-to-face.

Our imag es show arrivals by musical legend Gene Kelly at the Caledonian Hotel in 1953, and Britain's own screen legend Diana Dors, who took time out from her role at the King's Theatre play Remains to be Seen to view donations for an appeal for sick children run by the Evening Dispatch, which merged with the News in 1963.

The photos show Edinburgh newspapers' long history of campaigns for the sick and needy, and in a precursor to the Evening News' own Teenage Cancer Trust appeal last Christmas, the Dispatch would run its own sick children's appeal every year in conjunction with Gaumont-Odeon cinemas.

Edinburgh also saw visits from screen stars such as Roy Rogers, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy, Richard Burton, Dirk Bogarde as well as producing our own talent with, of course, Fountainbridge milkman Sean Connery treading the boards in a King's Theatre production of The Seashell in 1959, just three years before he would be thrust on to the world stage as James Bond.

The 1950s also saw the advent of television in British homes, and while many would have struggled to afford one in the early years, the city's children were obviously up on who was hot on the box, evidenced by a ward full of Lone Ranger fans with their hero, played by TV actor Clayton Moore, during a visit to Princess Margaret Rose hospital in 1958.

Music in 1950s Edinburgh offered an eclectic line-up, with ukulele comic George Formby signing autographs for fans at the Assembly Rooms in 1956. Later, it was the turn of opera singers Maria Callas and Mario Lanza to visit Edinburgh, and then came the great rock'n'roll explosion of the late 50s. Cliff Richard is said to have created "sheer bedlam" when he performed at the Usher Hall in 1959.

As for fashion trends, our photo shows that tartan trousers were a big hit at the 1956 Scottish Fashion Festival – they would later make a comeback in the 1970s courtesy of The Bay City Rollers, most of whom were born in Edinburgh during the 50s – while the height of opulence in 1959 was to wear real fur hats. Three years earlier, in 1956, the Davy Crockett look had been the style of the day for one bold chap, as our picture shows.

Edinburgh and the Lothians in the 1950s is available at a special price of 9.99 (12.99) by calling 0808 180 2008 or visiting www.shop.scotsman.com/1950book

A touch of 1950s class that left its mark on city

'EDINBURGH certainly had a touch of class back in those days," remembers Christopher Fentiman, 73, recalling the post-war years when stars came out to play in the Capital.

Big names such as Gene Kelly, Roy Rogers and Diana Dors all came to the city, bringing a touch of glamour to the streets.

A great fan of the movies, Christopher would visit most of the cinemas of the day, and was particularly fond of the Monseigneur News Theatre, where Gap now stands on Princes Street.

He adds: "You could go in at any time of day and catch the newsreels, it was fantastic. I was never fond of pubs – they just weren't my scene. I used to work as an electrical engineer and one of the only jobs I turned down was a job at a pub. I think it was The Green Tree. We got sent in there first thing in morning and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes turned my stomach."

His job also took him into the theatres, including a nightshift at the Lyceum where he bumped into popular post-war comic Ronald Shiner.

Known for his prominent nose, Shiner was reported to have insured his famous conk with Lloyds of London.

Christopher says: "He struck me as a bit of Sergeant Bilko figure. He was very funny man. I also met the singer Yana (1950s showgirl] while I was on National Service in Devenport."

Christopher grew up on Denholm Green Terrace, opposite the Granton Telephone Exchange, and attended Trinity Academy.

He recalls: "Unlike most places in Scotland, we didn't have the heavy industry that dirtied up the buildings, and that was what brought people to Edinburgh in the first place.

"We were relatively spared during the war, so we had retained most of our architectural beauty. I remember growing up in peace, where there was a policeman on every corner and there was always a sense of safety."

He recalls: "I remember coming home from school one day to find them removing all the railings for the war effort.

"A few years later, my parents enrolled me in John Watson's school, where the Gallery of Modern Art is now, then I went on to study engineering at Ramsey Technical College."