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The People's Story

  • Museums
The People's Story, Museums, Edinburgh

Time Out says

Mannequins and memorabilia tell a working class tale

The Canongate Tolbooth which houses this museum is one of the most emotionally resonant buildings in the Old Town. Back in the day justice was dispensed here and prisoners were detained to meet their fate: beheading, branding, burning, hanging or transportation. No surprise that a jail display forms a part of the People's Story but this local authority-run venue is more specifically dedicated to the social history of the city's working classes over the last four centuries or so. The exploits of the feared Edinburgh mobs are recorded but most displays concern everyday life so guilds, unions and friendly societies are prominent with various trades represented. Exhibits go up to the nineteen-eighties, even covering punk and football. The museum also offers a glimpse into the grinding poverty that some citizens endured in the past – something that continues into the present. Dwell on that and a picture emerges of an Edinburgh that's very different to the glamorous Festival City.


163 Canongate
Royal Mile
Opening hours:
Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (Sun noon-5pm during Fringe)
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