Bridget Gibson reaches 100

Bridget Gibson
Bridget Gibson
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A GREAT grandmother who once watched the carriage of King George V roll past her home in the streets of Leith is due to celebrate her 100th birthday on Thursday.

Bridget Gibson was not yet married when she had her close encounter with the royal family, with Queen Mary and her husband visiting the new houses at Sleigh Drive during the 1930s.

The Leith resident was born with the maiden name of Simpson as the youngest of five siblings, growing up with three brothers and one sister.

The family originally lived in what was called the Corporation buildings on Giles Street before tragic circumstances forced them to move.

Bridget’s parents both died in 1926, leaving her an orphan at the age of 13. Eldest sister Jenny took over the role of care giver, with the family moving in October to one of the houses newly built on Sleigh Drive.

Bridget attended Yardheads School in Leith and went to work in Crawfords Biscuit Factory on Elbe Street after finishing her education.

As a young woman, she enjoyed ballroom dancing, going out frequently to social events. It was at one of these dances that she met Thomas at Fairleys Ballroom on Leith Street.

The couple married on August 12, 1938 in Broughton Place Church.

In a departure from today’s more lavish trappings, Bridget bought her wedding dress in the Guinea shop on Leith Walk, where everything cost a single guinea. They lived with family first of all on Sleigh Drive, where son Ian was born in 1939. Daughter Irene was born in 1950 after a move to Sleigh Gardens a year earlier.

They had another child, Ann, who died aged 18 months.

Bridget and Tommy remained very keen ballroom dancers.

Irene said of her mother: “She was very good. She didn’t do competitions or anything, but she just liked going dancing. She was always out.”

The couple had two granddaughters for whom they regularly sat.

However, the sudden death of Tommy in 1970 left Bridget a widow at the age of only 56 and proved a significant shift in her life.

Irene said her mother has plunged herself into going out and making a new life for herself.

Bridget attended sequence dancing classes for several afternoons and sometimes evenings each week, and continued dancing well into her 80s.

Her active lifestyle involved regular trips to Spain with family and friends, with caravan holidays to Berwick-upon-Tweed with her sister.

Bridget, who also has three great grandchildren, moved in with Irene in 1997 in Restalrig, living there until 2009 when she moved to Victoria Manor Care Home in Albert Street.

A birthday celebration is due to take place on Thursday before a family get-together in the Persevere on Easter Road this Saturday.