Slums of Victorian Edinburgh tour

Tour times >

Meeting place >

Inside the main gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QQ
Special editions of this tour will be announced on our Facebook page. Booking essential
Do you think you can handle our most specialised Edinburgh guided tour? Are you ready for our stories of life on the very 'lowest' rung of Victorian Edinburgh? Will you be able to handle tales of incredible injustices and hardships for Edinburgh's poor?

An opportunity missed

We’ll learn about the Ragged School before seeing the result of the Improvement Act…and learn about what it cost Edinburgh in lost history and heritage. You’ll get to see what Edinburgh once looked like, find out why it changed and then you’ll have an opportunity to consider whether the right things happened for the right reasons. Like many things in history, the answer isn’t black and white.

Your Slums of Victorian Edinburgh tour highlights

Your local Edinburgh guide will take you around locations linked to Edinburgh's Victorian past. Your tour focuses on the life of the poor, and it doesn't hold back on the stories of how our Victorian ancestors managed to survive life on the’ lowest rung’ in Scotland's capital city. This two-hour guided tour will cover the poorhouse, lodging houses, the locations of some of the most poverty-stricken houses and of the most crime-ridden streets the Old Town had to offer. We also look at the measures put into place to 'improve' the quality of life for Edinburgh's powerless poor. This isn't the cheeriest tour we've ever planned, but it is a fascinating quest to uncover a part of Edinburgh's history which seems to have been forgotten about.

The Grassmarket lodging houses

No ‘Victorian Edinburgh’ tour would be complete without a look at life in a lodging house. The lodghing-houses give us some of the lighter and more amusing stories of the lives of the poor at this time. We also include a Grassmarket ‘then-and-now’ comparison at the same time.

The worst place to start!

Your Victorian Edinburgh tour starts in Greyfriars Kirkyard. We might do our very own Greyfriars Kirkyard tour, but your guide will explain why this is the very worst place to start our tour, and this let’s us get straight into our story. We will start by launching you right into the unfairness of Victorian poverty. We know how to weave a fascinating story around even the grimmest of subjects, and we won’t disappoint on this tour.

Entering the worst slum streets

We then enter Edinburgh’s “Abyss” “Slumming it” was a term coined to explain the habit of generally well-meaning Victorian men and women who wanted to take tourist type trips into the heart of slum dwellings. Your local Edinburgh tour guide will take you right there. He’ll use fascinating eyewitness stories to help you imagine the past as we walk around Blackfriars Street and St Mary’s Street, exploring what whilst we discover what life was once like in these very respectable areas today. And the truth is shocking…

Life ‘at the bottom.’

We will look at crime, alcohol abuse, extreme poverty, an uncaring society, police abuse, prostitution and dilapidated buildings. We will also explore an incredible amount of sectarianism and racism using the testimonies of the people who lived in these very streets. But there are also heart-warming stories, stories of co-operation and compassion which shine through to this very day.
Victorian Edinburgh poverty slums of Edinburgh guided tour Try our Victorian tour Victorian slums Edinburgh walking tour Grassmarket tour
“I joined this tour as the proceeds were going to a local homelessness charity. I was just expecting a general history tour of the Old Town. However my expectations were more than exceeded. The guide made the topics interesting, thought provoking and he made for an excellent story teller. I liked how he intertwined modern day poverty with what it was like back in the Victorian era. I particularly enjoyed the pictures and inforgraphics used which made the stories come to life. I have recommended this tour to others and I would not hesitate to go on a different tour.” travelkattours TripAdvisor review -6/2019
“Robert put together a two-hour bespoke walking tour for me and my husband. It formed an invaluable start to my research into the old town during the Victorian period, which is the setting for my next children's book. He went above and beyond to make sure I saw what I needed, and even provided sources from his own extensive collection of historical photographs and texts. Robert is extremely knowledgeable about Edinburgh's history and a very personable, eloquent guide who avoids the sensationalism of the typical tourist patter. I'd absolutely recommend one of his tours - you won't regret it!” Sharonnewell01 TripAdvisor review - 17/10/2018

Your Edinburgh tour guide has an average of ‘five-stars’ on TripAdvisor

“After enquiring about this tour Robert kindly arranged it to coincide with the dates we were visiting Edinburgh and all proceeds he received were donated to Street work charity. The fascinating tour gave us a real insight into the desperate poverty people lived in and was told with respect for those who suffered but was also peppered with some uplifting stories of those facing adversity, two hours packed with real history and knowledge and told with real passion, thank you Robert!” Shirlmac789 TripAdvisor review - 7/5/2019

Tickets and prices >

£8 concession £2 children under 16 (although we’d say tour is ‘parental guidance’)
£10 standard
Victorian Edinburgh tour

Our Edinburgh tours

Serious stuff!

Contact us

Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd

28/2 Bridge Road

Edinburgh

EH13 0LQ

robert@historicedinburghtours.co.uk 07590026077

Copyright Historic Edinburgh Tours 2019

Victorian Edinburgh tour

Entering the worst slum streets

We then enter Edinburgh’s “Abyss” “Slumming it” was a term coined to explain the habit of generally well-meaning Victorian men and women who wanted to take tourist type trips into the heart of slum dwellings. Your local Edinburgh tour guide will take you right there. He’ll use fascinating eyewitness stories to help you imagine the past as we walk around Blackfriars Street and St Mary’s Street, exploring what whilst we discover what life was once like in these very respectable areas today. And the truth is shocking…

Life ‘at the bottom.’

We will look at crime, alcohol abuse, extreme poverty, an uncaring society, police abuse, prostitution and dilapidated buildings. We will also explore an incredible amount of sectarianism and racism using the testimonies of the people who lived in these very streets. But there are also heart-warming stories, stories of co-operation and compassion which shine through to this very day.

Slums of Victorian Edinburgh Tour

Tickets and prices >

Meeting place >

Inside the main gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QQ

An opportunity missed

We’ll learn about the Ragged School before seeing the result of the Improvement Act…and learn about what it cost Edinburgh in lost history and heritage. You’ll get to see what Edinburgh once looked like, find out why it changed and then you’ll have an opportunity to consider whether the right things happened for the right reasons. Like many things in history, the answer isn’t black and white.

Your Slums of Victorian Edinburgh tour highlights

Your local Edinburgh guide will take you around locations linked to Edinburgh's Victorian past. Your tour focuses on the life of the poor, and it doesn't hold back on the stories of how our Victorian ancestors managed to survive life on the’ lowest rung’ in Scotland's capital city. This two-hour guided tour will cover the poorhouse, lodging houses, the locations of some of the most poverty-stricken houses and of the most crime-ridden streets the Old Town had to offer. We also look at the measures put into place to 'improve' the quality of life for Edinburgh's powerless poor. This isn't the cheeriest tour we've ever planned, but it is a fascinating quest to uncover a part of Edinburgh's history which seems to have been forgotten about.

The Grassmarket lodging houses

No ‘Victorian Edinburgh’ tour would be complete without a look at life in a lodging house. The lodghing-houses give us some of the lighter and more amusing stories of the lives of the poor at this time. We also include a Grassmarket ‘then-and-now’ comparison at the same time.

The worst place to start!

Your Victorian Edinburgh tour starts in Greyfriars Kirkyard. We might do our very own Greyfriars Kirkyard tour, but your guide will explain why this is the very worst place to start this tour, and this let’s us get straight into our story. We will start by launching you right into the unfairness of Victorian poverty. We know how to weave a fascinating story around even the grimmest of subjects, and we won’t disappoint on this tour.
“I joined this tour as the proceeds were going to a local homelessness charity. I was just expecting a general history tour of the Old Town. However my expectations were more than exceeded. The guide made the topics interesting, thought provoking and he made for an excellent story teller. I liked how he intertwined modern day poverty with what it was like back in the Victorian era. I particularly enjoyed the pictures and inforgraphics used which made the stories come to life. I have recommended this tour to others and I would not hesitate to go on a different tour.” travelkattours TripAdvisor review -6/2019
“Robert put together a two-hour bespoke walking tour for me and my husband. It formed an invaluable start to my research into the old town during the Victorian period, which is the setting for my next children's book. He went above and beyond to make sure I saw what I needed, and even provided sources from his own extensive collection of historical photographs and texts. Robert is extremely knowledgeable about Edinburgh's history and a very personable, eloquent guide who avoids the sensationalism of the typical tourist patter. I'd absolutely recommend one of his tours - you won't regret it!” Sharonnewell01 TripAdvisor review - 17/10/2018

Your Edinburgh tour guide has an average of

‘five-stars’ on TripAdvisor

£8 concession £2 children under 16 (although we’d say tour is ‘parental guidance’)
£10 standard
Do you think you can handle our most specialised Edinburgh guided tour? Are you ready for our stories of life on the very 'lowest' rung of Victorian Edinburgh? Will you be able to handle tales of incredible injustices and hardships for Edinburgh's poor? .

Tour times >

Special editions of this tour will be announced on our Facebook page. Booking essential
“After enquiring about this tour Robert kindly arranged it to coincide with the dates we were visiting Edinburgh and all proceeds he received were donated to Street work charity. The fascinating tour gave us a real insight into the desperate poverty people lived in and was told with respect for those who suffered but was also peppered with some uplifting stories of those facing adversity, two hours packed with real history and knowledge and told with real passion, thank you Robert!” Shirlmac789 TripAdvisor review - 7/5/2019
Victorian Edinburgh poverty Grassmarket tour Victorian slums Edinburgh walking tour slums of Edinburgh guided tour

Serious stuff!

Contact us

Historic Edinburgh Tours Ltd

28/2 Bridge Road

Edinburgh

EH13 0LQ

robert@historicedinburghtours.co.uk 07590026077

Copyright Historic Edinburgh Tours 2019

Try our Victorian tour
Call us : +44 (0)7590 026 077
Call us : +44 (0)7590 026 077