Heriot Row has always been a family street, and a good place to grow up. Some houses still have the iron window bars and wooden gates designed to keep children safe in their areas of the house, usually on the top floor. Once the gardens across the road were laid out in the 1820s, generations of children in the street had somewhere to play safely.

Children don't seem to have changed much. An early 19th century recollection comes from Elizabeth Grant, then in Charlotte Square but later a Heriot Row resident - 'I have a dreamy recollection of...beating a boy in a red jacket who was playing with me and shutting up another in some cupboard while I went about with his drum which he had refused me.’

Jessie Harden, who lived across the gardens from Heriot Row in the very early 1800s, described large parties for 'brats'. She wrote 'I think the consequences cannot be good from such dissipation. I understand at some of them the solids are ate, the sweetmeats pocketed and the boys get tipsy, for where is the lady or gentleman of a house that can look after 150 or 200 persons.'

Jemima Blackburn (born Wedderburn) at No 31 kept leeches and frogs as pets, and was thrilled when her house came under attack from protestors. Her later-to-be-famous playmate was future scientist James Clerk Maxwell.

Robert Louis Stevenson painted many pictures of his childhood, particularly in his Child's Garden of Verses. His depiction of Leerie the lamplighter is recited by children throughout the world. He used to pretend with his cousin Minnie that he was visiting India by climbing on a chair and inspecting an Indian cabinet with 'the bangles, beads and screens' on it.

Douglas Strachan lived as a child at at number 27 Heriot Row in the 1930s. He recalled "my brother and sister and I were looked after on the top floor of the house by a nanny or governess.... Until the age of about five I never saw my parents in the morning or for lunch, but was brought down to the drawing room after tea for games and a period of play. There were special toys kept for this purpose in the drawing room, which were not allowed to be taken elsewhere. My favourite game was carpet bowls, played with a set of miniature bowls on the vast Persian carpet."

The late Lord Clyde, whose family lived in several houses in Heriot Row at different times, remembered growing up in the 1940s in Number 14. During the Second World War he had to shelter in the basement. The house had a bucket of sand to smother incendiary bombs and a stirrup pump to extinguish any fire. A piece of shrapnel was found on the roof. There were then no lights on the garden side of the street. He recollected a man with a hurdy gurdy machine pulled by a donkey. Milk still arrived in a horse drawn vehicle. He would sail toy ships on the pond and ride his bicycle at high speed round the paths, causing the gardener to wave his rake in irritation.

The gardens feature in many childhood memories of living in Heriot Row. One child of the 1980s remembers putting chocolate biscuits on sticks and poking them out through the hedge and the railings, pulling them back sharply when passers by tried to take them. Much later on she remembers being joined by a fox as she walked down past the gardens early in the morning after a night clubbing. Another young resident remembers the difficulties of getting balls returned when they crossed the high wall into next door's garden. On a visit to her upper neighbour - an elderly spinster - she was puzzled by the lack of a husband and asked if he was perhaps kept in a cupboard. Her family continued the 19th century tradition of leaving town during the summer. As soon as the summer holidays started they moved to North Berwick, from where her father - Edinburgh's Town Clerk - commuted to his work.

Robert Louis Stevenson painted many pictures of his childhood, particularly in his Child's Garden of Verses