Moved to Tears.

The last real tram ran in Edinburgh in 1956. Everybody had to be on it as it was the last chance many people would have had to be on a tram in Edinburgh for a very long time.

I remember it well. But I think at the end of the day just about anything that could be taken as a memento of the tram was stripped out of it.

The number 7 tram went to Leith from the end of our road. It was replaced by the number 7 bus. Many years later there I was on the number 7 bus going to Leith and my first job in the The British Linen Bank, North Leith. Office Junior and Bank Apprentice,  I was.

Well anybody that knows me will realise I do not like being told what to do, so to start with, it was very difficult.

The thing I remember about Leith at that time was the smells. The butcher next door would cook the meat for the steak pies which he carried across the road to the bakers to have the pastry added. (You’d never get away with that now!) But no money changed hands for this as far as I see, as the baker kept a few pies and sold them and the butcher took the rest back to his shop.

When the butcher paid in his takings, (remember cash ruled in those days) he made his notes nice and flat by squeezing them in a vice before he brought them to the bank. It was a pity he never wiped the mince off them first because they were all stuck together and had their own unique smell.

I was also lucky enough to be very quickly taught to count half crowns. I soon found out why.

Onion Seller

From time to time the chief Onion Johnny would come in to transfer his takings back home to France. A string of onions was half a crown. So here he was, Jean Peron, with an onion bag full of half crowns wishing to pay them away to his account in Brittany.

The Onion Johnnies chartered a ship to bring the onions to Leith and hired a big shed at the docks where they stored the onions till they were all sold. But they also stayed in the shed with the onions so you can imagine the smell. It took about an hour to count all the half crowns, which were unusable to hand out again because of the smell of onions, Then, because of Exchange Control you had to fill out a Sterling Transfer Form, mark up the Bill of Lading with the number of bags of onions the payment covered, and have it all prepared to send away for Foreign Department to do their bit. what ever that was! Jean Peron was only one of many Onion Johnnies that used our office to transfer their takings back to Brittany.

I did not realise it at the time but I learned a lot in my first branch. In the key area of ‘Know Your Customer’ I could tell many of them by the smell.

Oh and by the way I found out what foreign department did with   Sterling Transfer Forms many years later when I was transferred to Foreign Department Glasgow.

Gordon Deas