One of the city's most picturesque local areas, Stockbridge is known for its independent community spirit and quirky charm. Just a short walk down the hill to the north of the New Town, Stockbridge is an attractive destination for visitors and locals alike.
Originally an outlying settlement, this was the site of the 'stock bridge' - a timber framed bridge providing the primary crossing across the Water of Leith for those approaching Edinburgh from the north - and the area was formally incorporated into Edinburgh in the 19th century.
The current stone bridge was constructed in 1801, and remains at the heart of the area to this day. It's from here that a thousand rubber ducks are released into the Water of Leith every summer during the Stockbridge Duck Race! The race raises money for local charities, with prizes for the sponsors of the first ducks to cross the finishing line - this year's race takes place on 28 June 2015.
Stockbridge also hosted the world's first rugby international, between Scotland and England, in 1871. The playing fields attached to Edinburgh Academicals are located adjacent to Comely Bank Road, which backs straight onto Inverleith Park, another of the city's vast public green spaces.
The main street of Stockbridge is named for the painter Henry Raeburn, who owned estates in the locality in the 18th century. Raeburn had been born in Stockbridge in 1756, and as an orphan was educated courtesy of George Heriot's Hospital, which today remains one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Raeburn lived and worked locally and produced some of the best known images of Scottish culture, including portraits of Walter Scott and the 'skating minister' on the park at Duddingston.
Other notable occupants of Stockbridge included Annabelle Coutts, aka Madame Doubtfire, who owned a second hand clothes store on South East Circus Place, up to her death in 1979 - the novelist Anne Fine lived locally for a time, and borrowed the moniker for the title of her novel, filmed with Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire. Stockbridge remains a haven for second hand goods, with some of the highest grossing charity shops in the UK, and a veritable goldmine for quality pre-loved goods!
From Stockbridge it's a short walk not only into the city centre, but also along the Water of Leith towards the Royal Botanic Gardens (to the east), or past St Bernard's Well towards the Dean Village and National Gallery of Modern Art (to the west). Or simply stroll the cobbled streets and browse the shops, independent bars and cafes, or the street market which is held throughout the year.
To explore Stockbridge in more detail as part of a private tour of the city, contact me to arrange a date and time!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh since 1998...