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The Union Canal and the Murray Burn in the 1950s

2005
The Union Canal and the Murray Burn in the 1950s

About this memory

We twa hae paidled i’ the burn
Frae morning sun til dine

Robert Burns Auld Lang Syne

Reminiscences of childhood on the Sighthill, Parkhead and Calders estates between 1940-1960

The Murray Burn rises on Dalmahoy Hill from where it meanders until it crosses under the Union Canal (See photo) and passes through the Calders.
Today it runs in a culvert alongside Murrayburn Road before flowing into the Water Of Leith near Saughton Prison, a total distance of 9 km or 5 and a half miles.

Before 1965 it was open to the air and proved to be a popular play area for all the children in the area. The Canal was considered to be too dangerous to play near, although this did not stop many of the children from doing so.

The Burn was usually about three feet across and 18 inches deep although at times in very rainy weather it would flood the fields around and often the gardens on the Sighthill estate. It ran in a valley behind the Prefabs further away from the houses.
Before the days of TV etc. playing out was the only alternative.
Happy memories include paddling, making dams, jumping competitions and sailing little boats made from lollypop sticks. The cows in the fields were to be avoided as were the cowpats.
The Canal was great for catching small fish or tadpoles. Trees on its banks were often hung with rope swings..
Past the Canal, it was farmland and small woods where families would go on walks and picnics.

Thanks to Russ Keith for the use of his photo.

Stuart Laidlaw Added by Stuart Laidlaw

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