What's in a name?

39steps picture with Eri from Nov 2017-1

I’m often asked where the name 39 steps came from.

Our first office was in Fleshmarket Close - right behind The Scotsman on North Bridge, which used to be the paper’s HQ. Me and my then co-director were offered a room, rent-free for a month till we worked out what the hell we were doing, from a chap who owned the whole floor. 

Gordon was an independent journalist, a gent of a man, regularly hosting the hacks from The Scotsman who popped in and out of no.22 to share stories before nipping downstairs to the Jingling Jordie for a lunchtime pint. 

For those not familiar with Edinburgh, Fleshmarket Close is a lonnnng set of steps flanked by high tenements. It is just up from Waverley Station and part of the Old Town. From our seedy wee tenement room on the first floor, we could hear every. single. tannoy announcement. 

At that time, there were lots of Edinburgh agencies who'd named themselves something to do with where they were: Newhaven, One O’clock Gun, 1576 to name but a few. 

This got us thinking: lots of steps, a train station, history, seedy street, stories and intrigue ...and the name 39 steps fell into our laps. 

Some folk recognise it as the title from the novel written in 1915 by the Scottish author, John Buchan. More people will recognise it as a film title. Four of them were made, with the most famous one being the Hitchcock version in 1935.

There’s also a long-established comedic theatre play, with 4 actors playing 104 different roles. (It's very funny. If you get the chance - go see it. Or become a client of ours and we'll take you).

Excited, we found our web domain, registered ourselves at Companies House and got thinking about what our branding was going to look like.

About two weeks later, I actually bothered to count the steps to our door. 

And yep - you guessed it: there were 39…

<cue spooky music>

Five years later, we outgrew our atmospheric hovel and moved to the fancier area of the New Town for another 5 years. But there were only 17 steps to our swanky basement gaff and so we don't like to dwell on that chapter much.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Och yeah, but where are the REAL 39 steps?? 

Well, these days, they’re at 90, Morningside Road. Yes, really. Yet another 39 from bottom to top.

Fate or coincidence??

#fate #team39 #naming

Picture: Ilustration of the 39 Steps' story by our fabulous @erigriffin, hanging in our studio.