Edinburgh is full of little neighbourhoods with distinct personalities, and Stockbridge is perhaps the most unique of them all.
With a casual, bohemian vibe and plenty of quirky boutiques, independent restaurants and picturesque streets, Stockbridge is a favourite of young professionals and families.
If you’ve ever lived in Stockbridge, you’re sure to relate to these 14 unique features of the neighbourhood.
1. There are hundreds of charity shops
Okay, “hundreds” might be a slight exaggeration, but Stockbridge has more than its fair share of charity and second-hand shops. Most of them are pretty well stocked, and you can usually find a few designer pieces and vintage treasures in amongst last season Topshop jumpers.
2. Everyone wants to live in the Colonies
Built between 1861 and 1911, the Colonies were originally created to provide affordable housing for the artisan classes. Now, they’re some of the most sought-after flats in Stockbridge due to their enviable location and very Instagrammable exteriors.
3. It used to be a village
When living in Stockbridge, you often get the sense that it feels more like a village than part of the big city, and that’s because it used to be exactly that. Originally a village on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Stockbridge became incorporated into the city during the expansion of the New Town in the early 19th century.
4. Sundays are for Stockbridge Market
If your Sundays don’t include a trip to the Stockbridge Market, then you’re doing weekends wrong. There’s nothing better than having a stroll through the market stalls, sampling tasty food from local producers as you go. You can find everything from Japanese street food to gourmet marshmallows.
5. It’s home to Edinburgh’s Foodies Festival
Speaking of foodie markets, Stockbridge is also home to Edinburgh’s Foodies Festival which pops up in Inverleith Park for a weekend during the summer. It’s full of famous chefs, artisan producers, street food stalls and plenty of Pimms.
6. The original Mrs Doubtfire lived here
Madame Doubtfire’s old shop in Edinburgh. Her name was immortalised in Anne Fine’s book and the film, Mrs Doubtfire. pic.twitter.com/BKBWEya7Z5
— Gary (@HP5man) June 2, 2015
The much-loved Robin Williams film might not have existed if it weren’t for Stockbridge. The original Madame Doubtfire was a pawnbroker and money lender in the 1920s with a shop on South East Circus Place. Her name remained emblazoned on the shop-front for many years after her death, and author Anne Fine used the name as inspiration for her most famous character.
7. 17 Danube Street has an interesting history
At 17 Danube Street lived Madame Doubtfire’s close friend, Dora Noyce. She might have looked like a respectable, prim and proper lady on the outside, but she was actually the proprietor of one of Edinburgh’s most infamous brothels. Despite being fined 47 times for “living off immoral earnings” Dora kept running the brothel from her elegant townhouse until she died aged 76, and she has gone down in history as a local legend.
8. You can walk all the way to Balerno or Leith
The Water of Leith runs right through the heart of Stockbridge (hence the bridge which gives the area its name), and if you venture all the way along it you can reach Balerno at one end or Leith at the other. The section of the Water of Leith around Stockbridge is one of the most picturesque, with sights like the Dean Village and St Bernard’s Well.
9. There’s an annual duck race
Every summer, thousands of rubber duckies are released into the Water of Leith for the annual Stockbridge Duck Race. With the proceeds going to charity, you can purchase a duck from local businesses in Stockbridge then eagerly watch on race day to see if your duck gets to the finish line first.
10. The Pantry is the place to go for brunch
Stockbridge is full of brilliant independent restaurants, perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But if it’s brunch you’re after, The Pantry is the place to go. This place is always packed full of locals at the weekends, so make sure to get down early to grab a table. Try the “Sunshine on Stockbridge” for a healthy twist on a cooked breakfast.
11. The first international rugby match took place here
The sports ground on Raeburn Place, which is still used for rugby games to this day, was the site of the first ever international rugby union match back in 1871. Scotland took on England and – you might be surprised to hear – Scotland won with a final score of 1-0. We’re guessing the scoring system was slightly different back then…
12. You can sip cocktails in a basement saloon
Tucked away in a basement on St Stephen’s Street is one of Stockbridge’s best hidden gems. The Last Word Saloon is the place to go for amazing cocktails served up in a speakeasy style bar with plenty of understated elegance. It would be easy for a tourist to walk past and completely miss this place, but Stockbridge locals know just how good it is.
13. There have been lots of famous residents
Avoided tourist haunts in #Edinburgh today but made pilgrimage to Stockbridge area, once home to Peter Higgs and Shirley Manson!
— Ray Toal (@rtoal) May 28, 2013
Stockbridge has always been well known as a bohemian haven for writers, artists, musicians, poets and actors. This part of Edinburgh has been home to many famous residents over the years, from Sir Henry Raeburn and James Hogg in the Enlightenment era to more recent residents like physicist Peter Higgs and singer Shirley Manson of Garbage fame.
14. It’s had an American diner since 1972
Edinburgh has seen a huge influx of burger joints and American style diners in recent years, but Stockbridge has been home to one since 1972. Still going strong almost 40 years laters, Bell’s Diner shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. This little restaurant is always packed with happy locals tucking into burgers, steaks and milkshakes.
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Main image: rorymarland / Instagram