When Jim Baird kindly gave me this rare photograph from the Baird Collection, I thought, “Hey, I used to live there!”, because the building on the right is Pryde’s Place where I spent my early years between 1931 and 1940.
The close with the arched top led to the rear of the building and just inside the close, on the left, was Tolmie’s chip shop. This was a fine, warm place to wait on a cold, winter night, although you could also sit in one of the stalls if you wanted to eat in. The owner, Andrew Tolmie (nicknamed ‘Scan’) was a big, cheery man who kept us amused with friendly chat while we were waiting to be served and the lightning way he chipped the potatoes was an entertainment in itself. He put the potato in the machine, pulled the lever and the plunger smashed the potato through the sharp grid in the base to make chips. A split second later, another potato was in position, smashed through the grid and so on. Talk about being mesmerised --- I didn’t mind waiting in the queue if Scan was on the chipper!
Having a chip shop nearby made life interesting in other ways. The potatoes were washed in a great wooden tub at the back of Pryde’s Place, by a Penicuik character called Ecky Petrie. Ecky had a hose running all the time and as kids we would get him to skoosh an arc of water high into the air and we would attempt to dodge it. We always got soaked, but it was great fun until we had to face the music when we got home.
For the rest of Jim Neil’s article see this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.