Edinburgh Diary, 1871-1880
1871 A bill for the introduction of street tramways is passed and tramways are opened between The Bridges and Haymarket on 6 November.
1872 On the 10 June, restoration work on St Giles’ Cathedral begins. The high-backed chairs in the Corporation pews are removed to the City Chambers. Many interesting relics are discovered during the renovation.
1873 After Lord Young’s Education Act of the previous year, the first Edinburgh School Board is elected. Two years later, sixteen schools in Edinburgh are under its management with 7,142 children on the roll.
1874 The Princess of Wales arrives in the city on 14 July and stays at the Douglas Hotel. Her father, the King of Denmark, arrives two days later. They remain in the city for several days doing the sights and visiting the theatre before sailing to Copenhagen on 20 July.
1875 Edinburgh’s entertainment facilities are changing. The Theatre Royal on Broughton Street burns to the ground in February whilst the Southminster Theatre is gutted by fire in March. In July, the Gaiety Music Hall opens in Chambers Street and this is followed in December by the new Edinburgh Theatre on Castle Terrace.
1876 In January, many historical houses in the areas of Bristo and Potterrow are demolished. These include Leechman’s School which was attended by Sir Walter Scott.
1877 The memorial stone of the Livingstone Medical Missionary Memorial Training Institution is laid in Cowgate by the veteran African missionary, the Rev. Dr Robert Moffat.
1878 French teacher Eugene Chantrelle is executed within Calton Jail for poisoning his young wife, probably with opium administered in a glass of lemonade. He is the first prisoner to be hanged within rather than outside the jail and the large crowd that appears to witness the event must return home disappointed.
1879 Former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone arrives in Edinburgh in November to commence his first Midlothian political campaign. Great demonstrations occur both in Edinburgh and elsewhere in Scotland wherever the ‘Grand Old Man’ appears. He becomes Prime Minister again the following year.
1880 The telephone is introduced into Edinburgh in February.