East Thistle Street in Edinburgh was the site of perhaps one of the most peculiar clubs ever to open its doors in Scotland; namely the Six foot high club.
Opening in 1826, membership was only granted to people who were six foot or over. Admittance rules were strict. Each new candidate was required to meet the agreed height provision standing “in his stocking soles”, and, to ensure absolute accuracy, an adjustable cross bar set at a minimum of 6 feet from the ground was installed. If a sheet of writing paper could be placed between the head of the aspiring member and the cross bar, he was declared “wanting” and refused membership. The Six Foot High Club drew most of its subscribers from the Edinburgh area. Membership was capped at 135 – an impressive tally (if it was ever reached) when you consider that the average height for men in Scotland at this time was approximately 5”3.
The object of the club seemed to have been to practice the” national games of Scotland” curling, shooting, golf and escaping from their wives. They even had a gymnasium (somewhat underused, as they had an extremely well stocked bar) in nearby Malta Terrace which was run by… as contemporary reports of the time stated… two elderly respectable ladies. In his unfinished novel St Ives, Robert Louis Stevenson made mention of the club, citing their predilection for alcohol and the fact that although “six feet was their standard, they all exceeded that measurement considerably”
The official uniform was “the finest dark green cloth coat, double breasted with special buttons and a velvet collar”
This wonderfully odd club also seemed to have had some literary pretensions, as the diminutive (barely 5 foot 4) Sir Walter Scott was granted honorary membership and given the wonderfully odd title of Grand Umpire.
Sadly a lack of subscription fees and an unfortunate incident involving a kitchen maid and a billiards table caused the club to close sometime in the 1850`s.