10 St Patrick Square, Edinburgh: built in 1796. Four floors of flats over Edinburgh Bargain Stores and Partyzone, where you can buy werewolf masks for Halloween and inflatable naked men for hen parties.
Notable former residents include…
Mrs Watson, who was tired of her son’s things being stolen at the Infirmary Street baths. First a shirt and a towel, then a brown cord jerkin. “I have to go to work to provide the lads with warm winter clothing, and it will be 2 weeks work before I can replace the jerkin.” (1951)
John Sutherland, a brewers drayman who killed John Bryce, a 6-year-old boy who was walking with his father on the pavement of Liberton Road. He said he was leaning out of his window to look in the wing mirror when “my foot became jammed on the accelerator.” £6 fine. (1937)
L Ostrovsky, tailor, whose business partner Solomon Hirshorn went to Glasgow to get married, then returned to Edinburgh. He was supposed to decorate the flat on Nicolson Street that he and his wife were to move into, but he instead hanged himself from an exposed beam. (1927)
(The story in the Evening News was titled “Went To Wed: Found Dead”, a jocular headline that it’s hard to imagine the paper using if Solomon hadn’t been an immigrant.)
John Yorkston Stuart and his mother. John (20) had been an apprentice engineer in Pilton and a private in the Territorial Army until he was sent to Gallipoli, where he was hit by two bullets and lived long enough only to make it to the field hospital, where he died. (1915)
Mrs McAvoy, a widow, whose 22-year-old son was killed in the trenches of the Champagne region of France on 20 February 1915.
John Taylor, a barman at the Gaiety Social Club in Infirmary St (now Mother India), who was accused of selling alcohol on a Sunday–a bottle of whisky and three pints of beer to two police officers disguised as sailors. He said the other barman did it. Verdict: not proven. (1902)
Thomas Howie, a 35-year-old compositor, who killed himself by drinking a bottle of laudanum. (1899)
John Taylor (a retired railwayman) and his wife Euphemia, both 68, who died on the same day, 7 December—“suddenly”, according to the death notice. (1891)
Mary Ronaldson, a semi-invalid, who watched from her window as William Gladstone, the Prime Minister, walked by amid crowds of cheering citizens. She sent him pressed flowers in a cane frame and received a letter from Gladstone’s wife thanking her for her goodness. (1886)
W S Finlay, a 25-year-old man who had worked for a time as chief collector on the New Orleans Railway and was returning to America on the steamship Anglo-Saxon when, in dense fog, it struck a rock off Newfoundland and sank. He drowned, along with 236 others. (1863)
Leon Jablonski Platt, a dental student who wrote the lyrics to a now-forgotten song, “Burns’s Bonnie Jean”, to mark Burns’s centenary. (Melody by his father, Edward, late principal flautist at the Theatre Royal.) You could buy the sheet music directly from him at his flat. (1859)
(Leon eventually set up a dental practice in Stirling, which is still in existence. His sons emigrated to Australia, and one, George, then went off to the Klondike during the gold rush and was never heard of again.)
James Hunter, who died at 19. His parents made sure to include in his death notice that he was the “author of the Tweeddale and Sapho Waltzes”, works of which no trace remains.
James French, merchant, who operated so long ago that he still used the long S in his adverts: “Shawls in Imitation of India, which have been fo univerfally wore this fome time paft. The patterns being made exprefsly for himfelf, they can be had no where elfe in Scotland.” (1805)
The tenement was erected on a garden called Cabbagehall, at the very edge of the city. Its builders promised it would be “finifhed in a moft complete and elegant manner”. They also said it would stand “in a healthy and agreeable fituation”. (1792)
For a while, I suppose it did.