Introducing: St Mary’s Street MakersKatrina Rose Ellis
A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker – an age old definition of a flourishing hub of local business. Our leather craft workshop in the heart of Old Town Edinburgh just so happens to have some intriguing next-door neighbours who also master in ancient trades. Together, we’re redefining the famous trio of artisan to bring a contemporary place of interest for visitors to the capital –
Welcome to St Mary’s Street Makers.
Illustration by @EdinburghSketcher
Bagpipes, Kilts and handmade Leather Sporrans. Our St Mary’s Street trio boasts an entire collective of historical Scottish trade in three consecutive shopfronts. We’re joining forces to build a destination built on artisanal craft – to educate, inspire and keep alive the three unique trades we each live and promote.
But this street wasn’t always the home of Scottish Heritage, in fact it never used to be a street at all. St Mary’s Wynd began around two thousand years ago, following a Roman road from the South. It takes its name from an early Cistercian Convent from the fourteenth century, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The street also follows the line of the ancient Flodden Wall, completed in 1560 to mark the city boundary. Sections of this wall still exist in parts of Edinburgh, and it is believed that the foundations still lie underneath the buildings which house our shopfronts on the west side of the street today!
Early map of Edinburgh, 1575. St Mary’s Wynd highlighted in gold. Although not entirely accurate in detail, the map gives an overall impression of how the city looked in the sixteenth century. Source: Edinburgh World Heritage.
In the Eighteenth century, and continuing today, St Mary’s Street remains one of the main routes leading south out of the city centre. This made it the ideal location for business to move in and start selling local goods from the many window fronts that continue to line the street today – our contemporary trio included.
Let us introduce each of the three brands involved in our new collective…
Standing on St Mary’s Street facing our three shops and starting from the left – the first stop is Kilberry Bagpipes. They produce traditional and magnificent pipes entirely by hand – from drone cap to chanter – and is the last artisanal workshop of its kind operating in Edinburgh today. The small team combine many decades of crafting expertise and piping experience, resulting is instruments of unparalleled quality, which piping aficionados will treasure.
Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers
There’s a lot more to Scottish heritage than the kilt – but what a place to start! We’ve come a long way from the battered great plaid (‘feileadh mòr’) of the sixteenth-century Highlands to the modern sewn kilt in a newly-commissioned tartan, but the thread of our national identity runs through both. It’s easy to play fast and loose with an icon (and many do), but at Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers Scottish heritage is treated with the love and respect it deserves. Using only traditional techniques, they are a young(ish) business with a very old soul. And the whole team are keen to share their passion for the history of our favourite garment – be that with customers in store or in one of their in-house talks on the history of highland dress.
Bespoke Leather Goods, Handmade in Edinburgh. What gives our bags their unique appeal and timeless look is our expertise in traditional saddlery techniques, fuelling the making of classic British cases and bags.
The leather we use is unique and distinctive because, over time, it gains character from its wear to give a beautiful worn charm. Now firmly in the 21st century we feature new types of the very finest Italian and Spanish soft hide leathers. We also offer a range of contemporary styles of classic bags and products as well as a broad selection of colours and the ability to personalise your bag and sporrans.
With the tragic and ever-increasing demise of the Great British High Street, we’re passionate about keeping tradition firmly on the streets. Buying online is fast becoming to most convenient and popular method of consuming goods – but here at Mackenzie we believe that true customer service will always be in person, where care and attention can be placed into showing the public how, where and when your product was made. Our unique collaboration of historical artisan craft offers the opportunity for visitors to experience not only the history of traditional Scottish trade, but also the chance to meet the contemporaries keeping their art alive in the modern world.
You can also find us on Instagram, @stmarysstreetmakers, and support us with the hashtag #supportstmarysstreetmakers
The St Mary’s Street Makers – (l-r) Kilberry Bagpipes, Mackenzie Leather and Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers
Three brands, three crafts, three stories,
St Mary’s Street.
With thanks to Procaffeination for sourcing ‘A Short History of St Mary’s Street and the surrounding area’.