Alastair Sim's birthplace located!
Tue 4 Aug 2009
Well I know I said "no-one seems quite sure precisely where Alastair Sim was born" in my programme introduction this month, but it turns out someone does... Our now-favourite patron has trawled the city's records to uncover some fascinating information, which sadly puts paid to my fantasies of the Sims being regular visitors to the building at 88 Lothian Road...
Alastair George Bell Sim was born on October 9th 1900, at 1am, at 94 Lothian Road, Edinburgh (that's now between BETFRED and BLACK & LIZARS!). His father was Alexander Sim, Tailor and Clothier, and his mother Isabella Sim, née McIntyre - they had been married March 16th 1893 at the Imperial Hotel (?) in Edinburgh, according to Church of Scotland records. The church at 88 Lothian Road was originally, according to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, a United Free Church and after further 'uniting' in 1900, the United Presbyterian Church, so it seems a tad unlikely, having had their marriage registered with the C of S, that the family attended the Filmhouse building in its previous incarnation - certainly not if Alex (as he signed Alastair's entry in the registers of birth) liked a drink!
The tailor's shop itself was below the flat, probably where one of the aforementioned business premises now resides.
Our now-favourite patron also wrote: "In The Scotsman of 7 October 1901 there's a notice of a special temperance service which took place at the United Free Church in Lothian Road, where it was noted that throwing paper wads at public houses had not worked. And on 22nd November 1917 the Rev Dr RJ Drummond of the Lothian Road church of the United Free Church was nominated for election as Moderator of their next General Assembly. In the first half dozen years of the century the Lothian Road church housed the general assembly's committees and so there would have been much anti-drink tub-thumping within these walls."
I like that. We've got a bar in there now... The bar itself stands where the pulpit used to!