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.
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.