Down Memory Lane

Vint's Close, Dalkeith 1900
Vint's Close, Dalkeith 1900

Like 2001, 1901 was a census year. At the beginning of the month it was announced that the census would take place at midnight on March 31, and that papers should be handed in on April 1.

The census showed that Dalkeith had a population of 7,297 – with 3,521 males and 3,776 females. They occupied 1,603 houses, with 6,125 windowed rooms, and 233 houses were empty.

Now that Spring had arrived, it was announced that the Children’s Soup Kitchen would cease. Each year, in December, Lady Anne Kerr of Woodburn House launched an appeal for funds to provide dinners for poor children during the winter. There was obviously a good response, because between January and March 3,833 meals of broth and bread were served, an average of 90 per day. The police and school authorities both reported “an improvement in the condition of the children during this time”.

New sewers were being laid in the North Wynd. It was reported that both the old sewers and water pipes were in a bad condition and leaking badly, and that cutting through them was like “cutting through cheese”. And of course, the pipes lay side by side, with the possibility of contamination.

Cycling was a very popular pastime in 1901, and there was a report of a Dalkeith man being killed whilst out for a Sunday morning run. Returning from Penicuik, David Sinclair lost control of his bike on the brae down into Lasswade. His bike, like most at that time, had no brakes, and he was last seen flying down the brae with his feet off the pedals. At the bottom, instead of taking the corner, he went straight on and crashed through the window of a house. He was badly lacerated about the head and neck and, despite the attentions of the police and a doctor who had been close by, he died soon afterwards. His bike was only slightly damaged. Mr Sinclair was aged 45, and was a van man with the Co-op. He left a widow and eight children.

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