The Luckenbooths attracted many traders, with even the accompanying alleyways filled with a number of open stalls.
The flat rooftop also served as a platform for public hangings.
We can find reference to the Luckenbooths throughout literiuar
- To the Merchants of Edinburgh, c.1500 by William Dunbar
- The Heart of Midlothian, c. 1818 by Walter Scott
- Lament For Ancient Edinburgh c. 1856 by James Ballantine
Famous shops at The Luckenbooths –
- Wigmaker and poet Allan Ramsay set up the first “circulating library” here in 1752.
- The first “Penny Post” was started here by Peter WIlliamson.
- “The Bell Place”, meeting place for various trade guilds.
- Served as city prison until a new prison was built on Calton Hill.
How did the Luckenbooths get its name –
Originally the luckenbooths were known as Buith Raw – (Scottish for Booth Row) as time went on and The Luckenbooths expanded it became known as “Luckenbuiths” (lockable booths) named for the lockable booths at street level.
What did the booths look like –
You can currently find a recreation of the booths in Lawnmarket, at Gladstone’s Land. The booths consisted of a folding split wood storefront, with one half being pulled up to form an overhang, and one half folded down to provide counterspace – still much like the booths of today.
What happened to The Luckenbooths –
The street was quite narrow. Many authors wrote about it’s width and difficulty in passing others, perhaps most famously Tobias Smollet wrote “would undoubtedly be one of the noblest streets in Europe, if an ugly mass of mean buildings, called the Lucken-Booths, had not thrust itself, by what accident I know not, into the middle of the way, like Middle-Row in Holborn”. The local council at the time deemed it a major obstruction to progress and had the majority of The Luckenbooths demolished in 1802 with the final building demolished in 1817.