Tollcross Stories – Portraits and Audio Trail

Discover local Tollcross stories

As the Book Festival moved to its new location at Edinburgh College of Art, we wanted to find out more about the area from local people who live, work and grew up here.

The 2021 Book Festival begins tomorrow, Saturday 14 August, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming you to our new home. The Festival is now situated at Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DF.

Our Communities Writer in Residence Eleanor Thom has connected with several local people to listen to their memories of Tollcross, an unassuming corner of Edinburgh that’s just a short way from the centre of town, and has a rich history. Eleanor was also joined by photographer Alicia Bruce, who has created a stunning set of portraits of Michele, Kelly, Carol-Ann, Omar, Nancy, Johnny, Angela and James, which you can explore below. Discover their stories via the playlist.

Michele - Central Hall


Angela, James and Emily - ‘Picture This’ Photo Shop


Carol-Ann - The Old Wash House


Kelly - The Cameo Picturehouse


Nancy - Edinburgh College of Art


Johnny and his team - Quick & Plenty Café


Omar - Khartoum Café


Each of their stories is rooted in place, and so we have created a map, which you can download here, or collect from the Information Tent on your way into the Festival site. We hope that this free, self-guided audio tour will encourage everyone to go beyond Edinburgh’s postcard exterior and explore the stories, memories and reflections of local people.

This project is part of Citizen, our long-term creative programme which offers local people a platform to explore identity, connection and place. To find out more about Citizen, and to hear about the inspiring creative work made by our Citizen participants, you can join us at our community showcase celebration, Stories & Scran, on Tuesday 17 August. In-person tickets are still available, or you can tune in online. For a spotlight on all our Citizen events in this year’s programme, click here.


Photography © Alicia Bruce

Citizen is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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