Clermiston at 60

2014 marks the community of Clermiston’s 60th anniversary. Once grazing land and the farmlands of Buttercup Farm, the area became a thriving residential area in the 1950s.

At the celebrations to mark St Andrew’s Clermiston’s silver jubilee, Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie remembered the beginnings of the church and its community:

Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie on his rounds

Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie on his rounds

‘In the autumn of 1954 the first congregations walked through mud and dust by new or half-built houses to worship in the wooden hut of Clermiston Parish Church…’

He remarked on the enormous change that had occurred worldwide in the fifties, and how the five years between 1954 and 1959 were particularly remarkable and hectic for the early residents of Clermiston:

‘… a small community of dozens became scores and then hundreds, a wooden hut without water or electricity became in a true sense home to congregations, political parties, garden club, drama club, Saturday film club, health centre, whist centre, and anything else it needed to be to those who used it….

After World War II enormous new towns and communities spread rapidly over the countryside, when people, more than a million of them in the end were moved from the centre of the cities and large towns of Britain. But this was our town, our time, and our place.’

The residents of Clermiston and Drumbrae are marking their neighbourhood’s 60th anniversary with a celebratory event on 28th September at St Andrew’s Church which kicks off a series of local events throughout October. Pictures from our Capital Collections exhibition are on display in Drumbrae Library Hub and the Library are inviting community donations of photographs and memories to help their local history archive grow. Keep an eye on Drumbrae Library Hub’s facebook page for upcoming events.

Events and activities for over 50s in Edinburgh

We’re celebrating International Older Adults Day on 1st October. And we’d love you to join us.

Come along to Meadowbank Sports Centre between 1.00 and 4.00pm where you’ll be able to try out seated exercise, new age kurling and walking football!

You’ll also be able to pick up a copy of this year’s Get Up and Go programme of events and activities for over 50s in the city.

(You can also view these activities listed in the programme on Your Edinburgh).

One of the highlights of the afternoon will be the Get Up and Go Awards, where we’ll be recognizing the wonderful work done for Edinburgh’s older people by certain individuals and organisations.

We’ll round off the afternoon in style with a tea dance, coffee and cakes from 2.30 to 4.00pm.

See you there?

For more information call Edinburgh Leisure on 0131 458 2100 or Get Up & Go on 0131 529 7844

Beer, banking and biscuits…

… or, should that be pottery, papermaking and publishing?

Edinburgh is renowned for many things and our latest story on Our Town Stories gives a potted history of some the city’s well-known (and lesser-known) industries, some of which still survive today.

Portobello Paper Mill

Burke & Hare’s Edinburgh

Find out how two Irish men became Scotland’s most notorious serial killers in the latest tale from Our Town Stories.

Burke & Hare: The Westport Murderers takes you through the gory story of how opportunism and the thirst for medical knowledge conspired to create crimes that scandalised a nation.

21676 Execution of  William Burke

The story is illustrated with a fascinating range of images of Burke and Hare, their accomplices, victims and the scenes of the crimes.

World War One training trenches

A week after war was declared on August 4th 1914, the ‘Your King and Country Need You’ slogan was released to recruit men to Kitchener’s army.  Tens of thousands of men responded and were trained for war. Many more would be conscripted to the cause as the months and years drew on.

Just outside the boundary of Dreghorn Barracks, in verdant woodland lies a hidden reminder of the soldiers who joined the conflict and the lives lost. A small network of neglected World War One training trenches can be discovered by the amateur archaeologist amongst the overgrowth. It is often assumed that allied troops were ill-prepared for the trench warfare of World War One but in fact, remains of military practice trenches like these exist all over the UK.

World War One training trench

It is thought that live ammunition would have been thrown and fired down the embankment from Dreghorn Barracks’ grounds towards the men taking cover in the trenches. It was an attempt to equip the troops for their imminent departure for the Front, though undoubtedly they could not have been prepared for the full horrors of trench warfare.

View more pictures of the trenches on Capital Collections.

You can find out much more about World War One practice trenches as well as other physical markers on Britain’s landscape remaining from the conflict from The Home Front Legacy project.

The Forth Road Bridge

As the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Road Bridge approaches our latest exhibition on Capital Collections looks back at the construction of the original Forth Road Bridge.

A category ‘A’ listed structure and vital transport artery for the country, the bridge was one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects in Scottish history and has cemented itself as an iconic point on the skyline of the city.

Forth Road Bridge - south span seen from south tower

Construction began in September 1958  and it took 6 years to complete the structure which includes 39,000 tonnes of steel and 115,000 cubic metres of concrete. The bridge is 2,517 metres long, making it the longest suspension bridge outside of the US and fourth longest in the world at the time of its completion. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the bridge on 4th September 1964.

In its first year, the Forth Road Bridge carried 2.5 million vehicles and opened up a vital transport route between the capital and north-eastern Scotland. The number of vehicles and passengers using the bridge has grown year on year far beyond the projections of the engineers in the 50s. Corrosion to the major wires of the bridge was found in 2005 due to the increased number of vehicles using the route and the changes in regulations of modern haulage vehicles. Measures were taken to stall the decomposition of the steel including dehumidifying the cables and replacing steel beams under the bridge bed. After this discovery it was decided that a second road crossing, The Queensferry Crossing, would be built to accommodate trade and private traffic while the existing bridge will be used exclusively for public transport and buses. The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in 2016.

Browse the Capital Collections exhibition to see more amazing pictures from our archive of the Forth Road Bridge under construction.

You may also be interested in ‘The Forth Bridges Scrapbook‘, a new and growing website where you can explore and create ‘digital scrapbooks’ of material and memories of the bridges.

The Assembly Rooms

Today, we hand over our blog to Russell Clegg, Heritage and Outreach Assistant with Edinburgh Museums and Galleries. We’ve just had a ball working with Russell on a story about the Assembly Rooms for Our Town Stories

‘I love it when a plan comes together!’ – heard that one before?

Well, I am most grateful to have had my own A-Team to work with in the shape of the Libraries’ Digital Team when creating an Assembly Rooms story for

As Heritage Assistant for such a prestigious building I have the privilege of tracing the footsteps of many illustrious visitors from the past as well as guiding tour groups and the general public around what they see as a familiar and, for many, an evocative space.

Assembly Rooms, George StreetAs you will read, this iconic Georgian venue has graced the built landscape of the city since 1787 and trying to capture the architectural, social and civic history of the place through stories and pictures has been a fascinating experience.

Whilst working on the heritage project, following the refurbishment of the venue, I have been collecting the many memories and stories that people have donated and this was an aspect of the building’s history which I wanted to include in the story.

I sometimes wonder what the Assembly Rooms itself would say if it could speak and by including these voices, readers get to hear about some of the weird and wonderful events that the Assembly Rooms has witnessed over the years.  The personal testimonies I have received and the interviews I have conducted have revealed that this venue has a very special place in the hearts and minds of those I have spoken to.

My collaboration with Libraries is set to continue over the next few months as I continue to prepare a touring exhibition, charting the social history of the Assembly Rooms, which will be visiting selected Edinburgh Libraries in the autumn.

Please do contact me if you have a story to tell or maybe if you have an object which relates to an event you once attended at ‘The Grande Dame’ of George Street.
Russell Clegg is the Heritage and Outreach Assistant with Edinburgh Museums and Galleries.

You can read more from Russell and keep up with news and events from Museums at the Edinburgh Museums and Galleries Outreach blog.