Edinburgh World Heritage - Life in Auld Reekie - Evening

Life in Auld Reekie - Evening

The usefu' cadie plies in street'
To bide the profits o' his feet;
Near him the lazy chairman stands,
And wats na how to turn his hand;
Auld Reekie by Robert Fergusson

For any visitor to the city, the cadies and sedan chairmen would have been essential guides through the warren of closes and wynds. Usually from the Highlands, their Gaelic speech would have added to the unfamiliar accents heard on the streets.

Cadies were messengers or guides for hire, whose great knowledge of the city's residents and gossip meant they could run all kinds of errands - perhaps even returning stolen goods.

The English visitor Edward Topham found them particularly useful: "...whether you stand in need of a valet, a thief-taker or a bully your best resource is the fraternity of cadies... it is entirely owing to them that there are fewer robberies and less house-breaking in Edinburgh than anywhere else..."

With the many steep and narrow closes, sedan chairs were the most useful form of transport in Edinburgh. An innovation in Edinburgh chairs was a hinged seat, which allowed passengers to stay level as the chair descended the steep closes.

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