Leith Local History Society

Of course we shouldn't have

Of course we shouldn’t have but we did!

What am I talking about? Instead of crossing the 22 yards to the air raid shelter in Taylor Gardens, the family — well two families living almost next door to each other in Ballantyne Road — bunked together. Three of four small children in the big bed in the corner of the living room cum bedroom cum kitchen while the women sat and talked, knitted and drank tea. Where were the menfolk?

This is what we did most air raid nights, patiently waiting for the mournful wail of the all clear.

But one night a dreaded land-mine slid down the Largo Place embankment and exploded. Ceilings collapsed, windows smashed, lights went out! But mother had the presence of mind to turn off the gaslight with its crumbling mantle.

As the dust settled and rubble was piled up against the walls and the Ballantyne Road balcony, help arrived in the shape of the air raid wardens with their tin helmets and armbands.

No-one was injured and the stunned families shuffled their precarious way across Great Junction Street to the safety of the Taylor Gardens air raid shelter. Mother clutching her well worn leather suitcase containing the ‘family jewels’ (Pru books and the like) — and that tin of biscuits.

We all lived to tell the tale although needless to say that after that night the air raid shelter became a kind of second home.