Where it all started - Edinburgh - Scotland's Capital City.
Young Hugh Leckie went to school in the Dumbiedykes, one of Edinburgh's working class housing areas on the south side of the city, near the Old Town. Here he is in his school photo, with the whole class in bare feet - very unusual in Edinburgh.
The family business delivering coal in Edinburgh, Scotland started in 1907, when Hugh Leckie, Sr. wrote his first one-year contract of employment with J. Alexander Halkett. This was extended for two more years, then in 1910 and 1913 there followed two three-year contracts.
After working for someone else for 9 years, the young Hugh decided to branch out on his own, forming the business that was to become one of Edinburgh's larger coal merchants, "Hugh Leckie & Sons".
Based in St. Leonard's Coal Station, the family business grew as first two of the four sons and then all four were taken on as partners.
One of the early photos we found was of a coal lorry decorated for King George's coronation on May 12, 1937.
Here's an early direct mail promotion developed to expand the business.
There were two major incidents that will be remembered by the family. The first was when the senior Hugh Leckie was mugged on the way home one evening, or as it was reported in the Scottish Daily Mail, a "cosh and grab". It resulted in the day's takings being stolen and physical abuse that left its mark on poor Hugh. Here is the article:
Here's another incident where one of the lorries simply slid on the slippery cobblestones on old Arthur Street, one of the steepest streets in Edinburgh at that time. It ran away, with no driver, crashing all the way into Holyrood Park - fortunately with no injuries. However, some of the coal seemed to disappear that day and many of the local kids had dirty hands.
When the last train was scheduled to deliver coal on the "Innocent Railway", I (Ron Leckie) arranged to be on it with a friend to film the event that started the closure of St Leonards Station. We were each required to buy a ticket for the grand sum of two shillings each way. Here are the tickets and the permit to ride. To view the film/movie click here.
To view another film/movie of coal deliveries in winter, click here.