Memories : Edinburgh, 1978

It’s May 1978 and we’re on Melville Street in the heart of Edinburgh, literally a hop, skip and a jump away from the Castle, Princes Street and all of those landmarks that make the ‘Athens of the North’ such a special place. As you can see, we’re in the Georgian part of the city, with an ordered grid system and pretty terraces that make this place such a timeless one.

At the end of this road is St Mary’s Cathedral, which looms imposingly over these homes. It’s a striking place to spend time and, aside from the street furniture, has looked this way since the 18th century. These might be troubled times politically, with the minority Labour Government suffering at the hands of a failing economy and industrial unrest, but the music peppering our airwaves and the TV we’re all watching is upbeat and keeping us all happy.

Your medium wave radio will be crackling to the sound of disco. The Radio 1 playlist is being dominated by dance music with Boney M’s catchy Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in The Ring riding high at number one, with the Bee Gees’ eponymously-named film soundtrack dancefloor filler Night Fever holding firm at number two. Other cheery songs livening up our lives right now are Tavares with More Than a WomanLove is in The Air by John Paul Young and the brilliant Ca Plane Pour Moi, by Plastic Bertrand (below).

So, tell us about the cars

As this is Edinburgh, and one of its smartest areas, you’ll not be surprised to see an interesting collection of cars. This is one of those wide streets that allows parking down the centre, so we’re only seeing half of what’s on offer – but that’s good enough for us.

Nearest the camera on the left looks like a Fiat 132, alongside a Ford Transit, an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT or GTV, a Honda Civic Mk1, a Datsun Cherry, a Renault 12 estate, and other cars, which include a Morris Marina, a Chrysler Avenger, a Citroën GS and a Triumph Dolomite. Behind the inevitable example of the ubiquitous Bedford HA van, you’ll find a Ford Cortina Mk3, a Lada 1300, and yet another HA (where did they all go?)

If you enjoyed this, let us know in the comments and, if you have any pictures you’d like featuring, drop me a line via any of the links below. Meanwhile, to see what Melville Street looks like today, scroll down for a view from Google Streetview.

How it looks today

Keith Adams


  1. Hmm,now that’s odd. When I clicked on the Home button and saw the “Edinburgh 1978” title it was accompanied by a photo of the car park off Buccleuch Street, with the University block on George Square behind. It vanished to be replaced by Melville St. when I opened the page. Weird!

  2. Looks like Edinburgh seems to like imported cars, with half of those in the photograph imported, including such nearly forgotten cars as the Fiat 132 and Alfetta. Of course, by 1978, nearly half of new cars were imported, with British made cars falling in popularity, and Edinburgh being a major city having a wide choice of car dealerships, same as imported cars were really taking hold in London by then.

  3. Have Edinburgh folk got much fatter since 1978? The 2020 pavements are wide enough for a tram track each as well. As for the random-coloured concrete slabs, I suppose that is ‘art’. And, of course, there’s the 20 mph speed limit.

  4. In recent decades all roads in and around the centre have been narrowed and pavements are accordingly wider.At some point in the near future all private cars will be banished. Not necessarily a bad bad thing IMHO.

  5. Oh, and the 20mph limit in the outskirts is a revenue raising scam. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to adhere to. It’s as though your car just wasn’t designed to travel at that speed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.