The beginning of Mercat Tours - 1985

In 1985 there were no ghost or history walking tours of Edinburgh. You might, if lucky, catch one of the volunteer Festival guides who operated in August, but there were no regular, scheduled, walking tours of the city.

So my dad, Des Brogan, founded Mercat Tours with three other history teachers. The first tour ran on July 1st 1985. They researched and wrote four walking tours – and two of them, Secrets of the Royal Mile and Ghosts and Ghouls, are still running today.  

Why ‘Mercat Tours’?

Traditionally, towns small and large had a Mercat Cross on the High Street. It was a place to seek out local information, organise a taxi (a local on foot!) – and perhaps pay the cabbie (AKA a Cadie!) a little extra for the gossip.

Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross lies at the historic heart of the town, and we decided to continue the tradition of giving visitors a warm welcome and a damn good story. So we called our company Mercat Tours.

The growth of Mercat Tours

As time passed, Dad became sole Director of Mercat. The business continued to grow and so did the competition, but Dad was still a full time teacher. Soon, my father stopped teaching and decided to devote himself entirely to Mercat Tours.

Award-Winning Edinburgh Tours & Storytellers

Mercat grew exponentially and won lots of awards along the way;

  • We attained 'Investors in People' recognition in record time
  • We won the contract from City of Edinburgh Council to operate tours of the Mary Kings Close, which we did successfully for five years.
  • In those five years we also doubled Storyteller staff and trebled our income
  • We were named a five-star tourist attraction by VisitScotland and in 2001
  • Were awarded the coveted Scottish Thistle Award for Cultural Tourism
  • Plus we were described as 'pioneers' achieving a GOLD Green Tourism award.
  • In 2017 we became a Living Wage Employer for our commitment to looking after our team and recognising their hard work with a real living wage.

Since then the company has continued to flourish, based on the value of truly superb Storytellers with a drive to be the best we can be.

The Mercat family

We have diversified and now provide a wide range of tours in Edinburgh, around Scotland, and even tours of the battlefields of Europe provided by our sister company, Mercat Tours International.

What began as a project for the summer holidays has grown into a fully-fledged family business. Dad retired in 2015 handing over to me, Kat Brogan, to lead our family business to many more years of success.

The secret? A lot of hard work, highly motivated permanent team, and an exceptionally talented group of Storytellers who share a common passion – history, and a desire give a warm welcome and share our incredible stories with visitors to our beautiful city.

Hear our latest reminescing as Dad and I reflect back to 1985 in our blogs

Kat Brogan

Managing Director

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