WHAT was once the most notorious address in Scotland’s capital city has gone up for sale. Number 17 Danube Street, located in Stockbridge on the edge of Edinburgh’s New Town, was placed on the market with Savills on June 17, looking to attract offers over £1.45 million.


THE Georgian townhouse, or at least two part of it, was once the property of Dora Noyce, the city’s most famous madam.

From shortly after the end of the Second World War until her death in 1977, Noyce ran the most famous brothel in Scotland from the address. Notoriety came with the territory, and she did not shy away from it.

The National:

Noyce would frequent Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in the Lawnmarket, once telling the gathered punters and journalists: “In my profession there is no such thing as bad publicity, so do make sure you print the correct address in your newspaper.”

However, as brothels go Noyce’s was apparently very reputable.

Customers were treated to wine, tea, coffee and cakes while they decided which of the girls, who Noyce insisted be regularly checked for health issues and STDs, they would give their business to.


BORN Georgia Hunter Rae in 1900, Noyce kept her finances largely to herself, as is hardly surprising considering her profession. However, she must have been pocketing a tidy sum. One story tells of the time in 1970 when the USS John F Kennedy, an American aircraft carrier, docked at Leith.

The National:

As you might expect, “hundreds of sex-deprived sailors hastened to Danube Street, forming a long queue outside her door”, according to Kenneth Roy’s The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Postwar Scotland.

By some accounts that queue snaked around the block and down parallel Ann Street.

It wasn’t long until the ship’s captain declared Dora’s place off-limits, but not before those American sailors had spent over £4000 (around £60,000 today) in a single night.

However, in a regular year, Noyce said, her busiest time always came around the Edinburgh Festival. Her earnings there were always enough to “see her through the leaner winter months”, Roy wrote.

Noyce’s second-busiest time of year came in May, when she could “count on the support of the fathers and brethren” in town for the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.


ALTHOUGH Dora preferred to call her Danube Street establishment a “house of leisure and pleasure” or “a YMCA with extras”, it was a brothel. As such, she was charged 47 separate times with living off immoral earnings.

However, as one senior Edinburgh policeman said: “Whenever she was brought in to be charged, she would simply accept it as part of the job.

“She would pay the fine, keep a low profile for a day or two and then go back to running 17 Danube Street as if nothing had happened.”

Apparently, in exchange for raids on her property being kept to a minimum, Noyce would pass on what useful information she could glean about Edinburgh’s criminal underbelly.

This was all much to the annoyance of her neighbours, who eventually managed to negotiate a cut to their rates as a result of the impact on property values thanks to having her next door.


SHE did once, for four months when she was 72. It was just after her conviction that she delivered her now famous “print the correct address” line to the gathered crowd.

When released, she had some stern words for those who sent her down, saying: “It was very stupid ... I was just a burden on the ratepayers and goodness knows they have enough to put up with already.”


PERHAPS just one thing – she was a dedicated Tory voter. Visitors to her brothel, which, as Roy tells us, had a permanent staff of 15 girls and 25 more ready to be “called on if the need arose”, could expect to see political posters in her windows proclaiming: “Life is better under the Conservatives.”

Those same Tories she supported would apparently often see her, much to their mortification, at their garden fetes dressed in her fur coats and pearls. Although, to judge by the company some of the Westminster Tories keep today, perhaps Madam Dora Noyce wasn’t so bad.