City’s historic images get a psychedelic makeover in Grassmarket’s free open-air art exhibition

The Greater Grassmarket BID has teamed up with local graphic artist Johnny Dodds and Capital Collections to launch a free open-air Art Gallery this September. Explore Edinburgh’s extraordinary history through a series of artworks that combine rare old photos from the collections of Edinburgh Libraries.

Photographs of hokey pokey man

 

See the city’s past, its people, places and city life through a psychedelic prism of colour and vibrancy. A unique, contemporary glimpse into Edinburgh’s past in a way you’ve never seen it before.

Photogrpahs of Lamplighter Victoria Terrace

 

Visit the free open-air walking art exhibition in the Greater Grassmarket area from 4th – 30th September and view all the images on Capital Collections.

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Royal Visit, May 1903

Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is taken from 3 small ‘Kodak’ photograph albums. The pictures document the royal visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Edinburgh in May 1903 following Edward’s coronation in London the previous year.

One of the albums depicts images of colonial troops who had arrived in Edinburgh prior to the King’s coronation in August 1902. Spectators have gathered as the troops are photographed marching through Edinburgh’s streets.

Colonial troops marching in the Canongate, 1902

 

Many more people converged on Edinburgh for the royals’ visit. The momentous event was described by The Scotsman:

“The railways in the morning brought thousands of people into the city, and the streets were kept in a state of bustle and excitement by the arrival of the troops with their bands of music, by their disposition, and by the hurrying of people to get positions to see the King arriving”.

Crowd and soldiers waiting for coronation parade, Princes Street, 1903

The streets were lined with people trying to get a glimpse of the royal procession as it passed from Waverley Station to Holyrood.

King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark in their carriage on Regent Road, 1903

There was a public holiday in Edinburgh for the visit and the city was festooned with bunting, decorations and large ceremonial arches were placed across main roads into the city centre.

Ceremonial arch on Lothian Road at the junction with Castle Terrace, 1903

Browse the full exhibition of the Royal Visit on Capital Collections.

Afterword
The photographer of these images is unknown, but the volumes were kindly donated to Central Library by the Misses D. Morison Inches of Colinton Road.

Part of the King’s visit took him to Colinton Mains where he formally opened the city’s new hospital for infectious diseases, built at a cost of £350,000. Among the welcoming committee of dignitaries were City Architect Robert Morham  and the city’s Medical Officer of Health, Sir Henry Littlejohn.

The King opened the doors to the new hospital with a ceremonial gold key which had been specially crafted by Edinburgh jewellers Hamilton and Inches. Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the key today, but it does however suggest a connection to the Misses D. Morison Inches and the photograph albums. Robert Kirk Inches, founder of Hamilton and Inches jewellers, was the father of John Morison Inches, a senior figure in Edinburgh’s brewing industry and grandfather to Doris and Denys Morison Inches of Colinton Road. Perhaps the Morison Inches family were keen to acquire a record of the prestigious visit to Edinburgh, in connection with their contribution to the Colinton Mains Hospital opening ceremony.

Edinburgh Photographic Society survey 1912-1914

Edinburgh Photographic Society Section was established in 1899, and over the early years of the 20th century created a collection of photographs of streets and buildings of Edinburgh.

It was proposed that 2 copies of each photograph were created, one to be given to the City of Edinburgh and one to be retained by the Edinburgh Photographic Society.

The images in our latest Capital Collections exhibition feature Ward XIV (George Square) and most of the photos were taken between 1912 and 1914. There were some earlier images collected, but not taken by the EPS Survey Group members.

Many of the photographs feature places that are still very much recognisable today but there are also many that no longer exist.

Do you recognise this area? Taken in 1904 you might be able to spot the street sign that says Tarvit Street. These buildings were probably demolished very shortly after this photograph was taken as two years later the King’s Theatre opened its doors on the site.

Leven Street, east side

The picture below shows an area that has changed quite a bit, well, at least one side of the street! This is looking towards Earl Grey Street and on the corner on the left-hand side, is Central Hall.

Earl Grey Street looking north from Brougham Street

The cottages below were demolished and built on the site that was the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary College. Nowadays it is known simply as Summerhall, an arts hub for theatre, music, art and literary events throughout the year. It even has its own gin distillery and microbrewery.

Cottages, Summerhall

Many would think that somewhere like the Grassmarket with its original old buildings wouldn’t have changed very much. However as you can see, this impressive looking building, the Corn Exchange, is no longer there. It stood on the site that is now the Apex Hotel.

The Corn Exchange , Grassmarket

Visit Capital Collections to see the full set of amazing photographs from the George Square Survey by the members of the Edinburgh Photographic Society.

All the world’s a stage – 70 years of Edinburgh festivals

In 1947, Sir John Falconer, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, spoke of his ambition that the International Festival of Music and Drama should provide “a platform of the flowering of the human spirit”.

The first Edinburgh International Festival programme 1947

This year (2017) sees the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe. In 1947, eight uninvited theatre groups turned up at the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. With the ‘official’ festival using the city’s major venues, these groups took advantage of the large assembled theatre crowds to showcase their own alternative theatre. Although at the time it was not recognised as such, this was the first Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Map of major venues 1947

The EIF has played host to many international stars over its 70 years. Maria Callas performed in the King’s Theatre in 1957 and Rudolf Nureyev first appeared at the festival in 1984 dancing in a production of ‘Swan Lake’ at the Playhouse Theatre. In 1965 Marlene Dietrich performed, singing a collection of late night cabaret songs at the Lyceum assisted by an orchestra conducted by Burt Bacharach.

Harmonium Project, opening the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival

Many of today’s well known faces have launched their careers at either the Festival or Fringe. Alan Bennett, Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller appeared in Beyond the Fringe in 1960. Billy Connolly appeared in The Great Northern Welly Boot Show in 1972. Rowan Atkinson took a break from his engineering degree in 1976 to perform alongside Richard Curtis for the Oxford Review. In 1981 Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were members of The Cambridge Footlights who won the first Perrier Award (now Edinburgh Comedy Award) and in 2001 Eddie Redmayne appeared as the MC in Cabaret.

Street performer at Parliament Square, 2015

If you want to get a real taste of what’s happening during the festivals, take a stroll – though it may take some time – down the High Street and to The Mound where you will be able to see Fringe groups, buskers and street performers. You might even be “persuaded” to join in!

Street performer on High Street, 2015

The Edinburgh Festivals continue to go from strength to strength. In 2016 the combined ticket sales of both the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival reached 2,915,143.

Find many more great pictures of our festival city on Capital Collections including our collection of Edinburgh International Festival programme covers.

Bill Hall’s family story

Bill Hall is a keen family historian. Born in 1946, Bill has lived most of his life in Edinburgh. Over the past couple of years, he has shared with us, many photographs and material regarding his family and we’ve now compiled a lovely exhibition depicting his family story on Capital Collections.

Bill’s mother Mary was the custodian of the family archive and shared her memories with Bill. Born 1911, she lived in Albion Road, attending Albion Road School. During the summer she visited relatives in Ratho, Tranent and Cockenzie.

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Mary Clark Welsh

In our exhibition we meet several of Bill’s family. There’s Alexander Clark, Bill’s great-great-grandfather, who was born c1813 in Linlithgow and worked as a carter carrying stone. He gave this up to become a canal banksman moving to Wilkie’s Basin, near Ratho. A banksman’s job was to maintain the canal ensuring it was kept in good order. They dredged the canal and kept it clear of weeds and debris for the traffic that travelled along the canal.

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Banksmen at Ratho

Bill’s great-uncle Alexander Henderson, born in 1890, was employed by St Cuthbert’s Co-operative as an assistant grocer and played in their football team. It’s possible he joined a “pals battalion”, a group of men from the same workplace or football team who enlisted together. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and after training landed in Boulogne in May 1915. He died at the Battle of Loos on 12th October 1915 aged 25.

st-cuthberts-athletic-fc

St Cuthbert’s Athletic FC

Bill’s father Joseph was born in 1911. A postcard shows Joseph aged about 3, taken on Christmas Eve 1914. A gift for his father William, who was off to the front, the message on the back reads, “Love to Daddy from Joe“. William died of wounds on 8th April 1916.

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Joseph Hall, Bill’s father

Another of Bill’s great uncles, Archie Tait had been a ploughman at Wilkie’s Basin in Ratho before joining Edinburgh City Police in 1914. He served with The Lovat Scouts Mounted Division during WW1. They saw service on the Western Front, at Gallipoli and in Egypt and Macedonia. Archie returned to Edinburgh City Police in 1919 as a mounted policeman and on his retirement from the police in 1945, worked as a doorman at Register House.

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Archie Tait

View the full exhibition of Bill Hall’s family story on Capital Collections.

Saughton Park Restoration Project

Rumours of the old house being haunted, romantic walks in the rose garden, dancing to music at the bandstand, catching fish in jam jars at the Water of Leith… these are just some of the colourful memories recorded so far as part of the Saughton Park Restoration Project.

Since summer 2016 Edinburgh charity the Living Memory Association has been working with volunteers to uncover the social history of the park and the surrounding area.
The material will help shape the park, for example in new artwork and information panels, and be archived for the benefit of future generations.

The Edinburgh and Scottish Collection are hosting an exhibition where you can enjoy a taste of the memories, images and documents collected so far, and read about the plans for the restoration project.

Saughton – the People’s Park is in the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection until March 31st 2017.

bandstand-and-art-galleriesDiscover more about Saughton Park’s past by reading our previous blog post on Saughton’s Glorious Summer of 1908.

 

Roses are red, violets are blue, we’ve delved into the British Newspaper Archive…. just for you!

Today is Valentine’s Day and with that in mind we’ve been having a look at some historical newspapers to see what we could find.

If you think that the heavy burden on the postie was a relatively new thing, think again. Back in 1876, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that the pillar box at the GPO had to be emptied 5 or 6 times to cope with the demand.

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Edinburgh Evening News 14th Feb 1876

In the Dundee Evening Telegraph, you could win £2 2s for pouring your heart out….

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Dundee Evening Telegraph 10th Feb 1931

And a few years later this little drawing appeared, can you work out the message?

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Dundee Evening Telegraph 14th Feb 1936

And if you forgot to send off that card, there was even a belated Valentine’s message.

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There are over 14 million digitised pages from more than 700 UK and Irish newspapers available on the British Newspaper Archive. You can browse for FREE in Central Library’s Edinburgh & Scottish Collection and Reference Library.

So do come and have a look yourself and use the Libraries’ computers or wifi to explore thousands of newspapers from 1710-1954 for FREE.