A brief history of the Edinburgh Press Club

Formed in 1939, The original Edinburgh Press Club enjoyed a 68 year history as a popular and high profile social home and gossip hub for journalists, writers and dignitaries. With aspirations to make the EPC the Scottish capital’s “centre of sweetness and light,” Scotsman editor and EPC president Sir George Waters oversaw a rapidly growing membership and a move to larger premises from its original home on Candlemaker’s Row (right between Greyfriar’s Kirk and the statue of wee Greyfriar’s Bobby) to Rutland Street in 1950 (where “a fine view of the Edinburgh Castle was blocked by the Caledonian Hotel.”)

There’s a sense that the club was everything from a second office for journalists to an alcohol fuelled playground. Jack Sutherland, 20 year veteran of the Edinburgh Evening News editorial team, and eventual EPC chairman, describes taking messages there for breaking news and collapsing newspaper empires. Mirror Chief Reporter Tom Nicholson would quietly play his father in drafts, while Daily Mail journalist Ernie MacIntyre describes the fortuitous placement of the club in close proximity to the Royal Infirmary as his duodenum ruptured.

While there is no evidence he attempted it, former EPC member and famous Bond, Sir Sean Connery, would have no doubt tackled one of the the more infamous club games called “The Eiger,” the scaling and traversing the walls of one of the bars, in a fine 007 style and perhaps have raised an eyebrow or even a cheer from the equally high profile member HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The formidable Lorna Rhind, hard working journalist and original promoter of Edinburgh as a tourist and conference destination, would not have approved and once protested in the club in the 60s regarding it the “preserve of males.” o doubt entirely justified.

The Edinburgh Press Club opened January 19th 1945 (officially) by Lord Provost John Falconer, joined Lord Rosebery. The Rutland Street p
remises opened in 1950 by Lord Provost Sir Andrew Murray
Other members included: June Plank (last chairwoman), Michael Heseltine, Kate Adie, Alistair Cooke. (links for ref)

In opening the Edinburgh Press Club on Cockburn Street in the former home of the Scotsman newspaper and literary journal, we hope to capture our own version of Edinburgh “sweetness and light” and evoke a sense of the importance and drama of Edinburgh’s close-knit community of journalists, writers and poets for those who love good coffee, cake or a well crafted gin and tonic. Perhaps preserving a little of the world of print and “that time” before the internet and “fake news…”

About our logo: the “tipped cup” image represents a busy press room suddenly cleared of coffee fuelled journalists as a big story breaks.

The Scotsman
The Independent
Voices of Scottish Journalists by Ian MacDougall, 2013 Birlinn
Remnants of the Edinburgh Press Club website

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