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16th August 2020
A new series of walking tours focusing on the incredible stories of people who lived in Edinburgh’s New Town and West End has been launched in collaboration with Edinburgh World Heritage.
The Edinburgh branch of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, which has over 200 members, has organised the new West End Stories tours which run from August 19 to September 13 2020.
Blue Badge Tourist Guide Jane Roy was inspired to create the tour by the Edinburgh World Heritage ‘Meet the West Enders’ Heritage Trail which was designed to encourage more people to explore the historic streets of the West End.
“Our tours will include some of the areas covered by the trail but it goes beyond it and we have uncovered even more fascinating stories,” she said.
“I think the West End tends to be overlooked and there is a wealth of history and heritage.
“The people who lived here were quite amazing and they include Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Joseph Bell, the real-life inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes; antiseptic surgery pioneer Joseph Lister; innovative 19th century doctor and suffragist Elsie Inglis; Scottish Colourist painter Francis Cadell; women’s higher education campaigner Christian Wright Guthrie; and children’s literature writer Catherine Sinclair.”
Jane contacted Edinburgh World Heritage to see if they would be happy with her idea for the tours and they were delighted.
Nick Hotham, head of external relations at Edinburgh World Heritage said: “The streets and buildings of the New Town and West End of Edinburgh are not only among the most beautiful and elegant urban environments in Britain, but also hold many fascinating stories of the great men and women that made their homes here during more than 200 years of history.
“We’re delighted to see these new tours now being offered to the public, and we hope that many residents of the city will take part.”
As a result, £1 for every ticket sold on the tours will be donated to Edinburgh World Heritage to enable it to continue its work conserving Edinburgh’s historic buildings and developing improvements to the public realm.
Jane said the quiet, wide streets in the area were also ideal for guiding in times where social distancing is essential. The maximum group size will be eight people and participants are being invited to wear face masks.
The majority of STGA guides involved in West End Tours are normally unable to do scheduled work in the summer because many are on extended tours all over Scotland.
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, guides were not able to work until lockdown was lifted on July 15, but by then, most if not all of their tours had been cancelled.
Jane decided to try to repeat the success of two previous series of winter tours run by the branch – Georgian Shadows and 101 Objects – which ran in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Georgian Shadows was shortlisted in the Edinburgh regional final of the Scottish Thistle Awards.
“The Georgian Shadows and 101 Objects tours attracted many local people and we are hoping West End Stories will do the same,” said Jane.
The walking tours, which cost £12.45 per person, will begin in Charlotte Square and last 90 minutes. However, all people taking part must book in advance.
For more press information contact Alasdair Northrop on 01620-895571
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