Some 60 plus years since they lived there as students, five St Leonard's "girls" gathered for a mini-reunion in Edinburgh last month.
Prior to the appearance of the Pollock Halls complex in the mid 1960's, Holyrood Park Road was dominated by Nelson's Printing Works (now Scottish Widows Fund and Life Assurance Head Office), their playing fields and three Scottish Baronial Mansions erected by and for the Nelson Family.
Sir Donald Pollock (Rector 1939-45) bought the Mansions and gifted them to the University during his time as rector.
The first - Abden House became the Principal's House and is now the home of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh, the second - Salisbury Green, served as a hall of residence for male students and is now a hotel and conference centre, and the third - St Leonard’s Hall, was used as a hall of residence for female students from 1939 and now contains University accommodation offices and function rooms.
St Leonard’s Hall housed St Trinnean’s School for Girls from 1922 until World War II. It is reputed to be the inspiration for St Trinian’s School in the novels of Ronald Searle.
A nostalgic 1949-51 resident decided to organise a reunion and, with the help of the Alumni Engagement team, a group photo and a clutch of half remembered names, managed to track down former St Leonard's Hall residents.
Unfortunately, 60 years on, several residents are no longer with us, and a combination of logistics, age and health problems precluded others from travelling to Edinburgh. All were glad to be contacted, however, and to be put in touch with former friends.
Finally five "girls" (three more sadly had to pull out at the last moment) plus 4 husbands and friends lunched in the splendour of the Nelson Room (the old dining room) on Saturday 12th May 2012. A memorable afternoon was spent comparing notes, reminiscing and looking at old photographs (including a Charities Day float of St Trinian's Girls).
Are you considering organising a reunion? Lots of help is available from Alumni Engagement. Please contact us for more information.
There was also time to explore the carpeted conference and function rooms that the girls remembered as shared study bedrooms, with lino floors and iron bedsteads. Quite a long way removed from the luxury of the present day.
The final image was one of St Leonard's Hall nestling among the vast Pollock Halls complex. Dwarfed but jam packed with memories.
University of Edinburgh Journal Vols XLIV no2 pp105-107 & No 3 pp 155-6 and XLV No pp 23-24.