Edinburgh Street Furniture by David Brandon is an enjoyable ramble around some of the fascinating sights and locations on offer to anyone who cares to look for them in Scotland's capital. It is perhaps worth noting that although the book includes information about items of street furniture found in Edinburgh, despite the title and cover art this volume extends very much more widely that the title suggests. The opening topic, for example, is Astley Ainsley Hospital, while the second is the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street and the fifth is Blackford Quarry. This is not a criticism: the book is doubtless much more interesting for taking a wider view, it's just not quite the book you expect when you open the cover.
After an opening chapter on the history of Edinburgh, the book settles into a series of features about 139 places or things of interest around the city. We've already discussed the opening, and as the final subject to feature is the White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket, you will have guessed that the coverage is arranged alphabetically rather than geographically. Partial postcodes are given to help narrow down the location, but as it stands the book is going to be of most value to someone who knows the city well enough to have a mental picture of the places discussed, as no map is provided. On the plus side, no matter how well you think you know Edinburgh, you will find a great deal that is new and interesting between the covers of this book.
And you will also find some street furniture. The section on letter boxes, for example, is fascinating. Here we learned, for the first time, that while letter boxes installed during the reign of the current monarch in England have her royal cypher, those in Scotland do not. It would seem that in the years after 1953 postboxes carrying the cypher of Queen Elizabeth II were not well received in a country that never had a Queen Elizabeth I, so the cyphers were simply omitted. The piece on Edinburgh's unique locally designed police boxes, many of which survive, is equally fascinating. This is one of those books that leaves you with a list of places you should really go and see, and it is very welcome for it.