Sketching the city

We were delighted when Sketchnthecity allowed the Central Library to exhibit a large-scale sketch of Edinburgh. The sketch is the 3rd in the ‘69 cities’ project to sketch all 69 cities across the UK.

Artist Carl Lavia says: “Each artwork is a celebration for the people who live, work and simply love the city”.

Artist Carl Lavia at work on a large-scale Edinburgh cityscape sketch

And now, we’re thrilled to report that the Sketchnthecity project partnership of Carl ‘Sketch’ Lavia and photographer Lorna Le Bredonchel have kindly allowed us to share images of the amazing Edinburgh sketch on Capital Collections.

We thought we’d take the opportunity to delve into our collections and uncover how artists have captured views of the city through the years. So our latest exhibition on Capital Collections, entitled Sketching the City, showcases views of the awesome Sketchnthecity drawing alongside historical sketches from our archives.

Click to zoom into the incredible detailed drawing!

Remember, you can visit the phenomenal Sketchnthecity drawing of Edinburgh’s city centre at Central Library until the end of September 2018.

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Chocks away!

We thought we’d end our short series on early flight pictures with a quick fly-by over Edinburgh. Our journey takes in Calton Hill, the New Town, travelling west over the West End and Water of Leith to Craigleith Quarry before looping back to the docks at Leith.

Enjoy these simply breath-taking views of 1930s Edinburgh from the air.

Calton Hill from the air. Click on the picture to zoom in!

Castle Street and George Street.

Castle Street and George Street from the air. Click on the picture to zoom in!

West End of Edinburgh and Water of Leith

West End and Water of Leith from the air. Click on the picture to zoom in!

Craigleith Quarry (aerial view)

Craigleith Quarry from the air. Click on the picture to zoom in!

Leith Docks from the air

Leith Docks from the air. Click on the picture to zoom in!

To view more great pictures of early flight in Edinburgh and beyond and to zoom into the incredible detail browse the full exhibition of early aviators and their flying machines on Capital Collections.

Catch up with the other blog posts in this short series on early flight:

Early aviators and their flying machines

Daredevils and wing-walkers

Daredevils and wing-walkers

When World War One ended many ex-military pilots wanted to continue flying and to use it as a source of income. They purchased used aircraft at cheap prices and charged members of the public for short flights, gave flying lessons or provided chartered flights. Some pilots used their flying expertise to develop daredevil flying shows.

Crowd scene from a flying circus air show, c1935

These thrilling flying circus shows became known as barnstorming because many events were held on farms or near barns.

Flying circus biplanes in formation, c1935

As the popularity of barnstorming grew so did the daring of the flyers. In 1918 an American called Ormer Locklear started to climb out of the cockpit to walk along the wing and even to step from one plane to the other.  Although this was extremely dangerous it became an expectation that a Flying Circus would have such an stunt. In 1938 the American authorities made it mandatory to wear parachutes at all times. This diminished the daredevil antics and hastened the end of these shows.

A wing-walker in mid-flight at a flying circus

In the earliest days of flight when most aircraft had open cockpits, these intrepid pilots needed protection from exposure to the cold, noise, heat and air pressure. At first, aircraft were flying at slower speeds than motorists and the clothing worn was similar, perhaps a tweed jacket and trousers, hat and goggles.

Louis Paulhan and Claude Grahame-White, c1912

Leading stores like Gamages or Burberry’s soon recognised a new growing market and introduced flying combination suits, fleece lined boots, rainproof gauntlets, leather coats and special goggles. Further developments produced a new range of flying shockproof helmets.

Early aviator, Hilda Beatrice Hewlett, 1911

In 1916 Sidney Cotton, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot made an accidental discovery when having been scrambled for action in his working overalls. He found that the oil and grease which had soaked into the material kept him warm when his fellow pilots were suffering from the cold. He took his idea to Robinson and Cleaver in London and got them to make him a flying suit to his new design. It had 3 layers, a thin fur lining, an airproof silk layer and an outside light Burberry material layer. And so, the Sidcot flying suit came into general operational use.

Pilot beside Avro 504 plane, c1935

See more fantastic images from our Early aviators and their flying machines exhibition on Capital Collections.

Catch up with the other blog posts in this short series on early flight:

Early aviators and their flying machines

Chocks away! Edinburgh from the air

Early aviators and their flying machines

We’re delighted to launch a new exhibition on Capital Collections hosting a collection of glass lantern slides documenting early flight in Edinburgh and beyond.

Airspeed Ferry in flight, c1936. Granton Harbour in distance

The early days of flight had many intrepid characters and designs of flying machines. The Wright brothers of the USA and Louis Bleriot of France are well known but there are many others who dedicated time and money to achieving the seemingly impossible.

In the early 1900s as new aircraft were developed, Air Races with considerable cash prizes were sponsored by newspapers in the United States and the UK. The Daily Mail newspaper was a leading sponsor of air races, using the events to both promote the newspaper and to encourage the development of aviation.

A model aeroplane competition took place at Alexandra Palace in London in 1907 where Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe won all three prizes on offer. Just two years later, Louis Bleriot became world-famous for making the first flight across the English Channel and claimed the £1000 prize money offered by the Daily Mail.

Louis Bleriot prepares for his cross channel flight

The stakes were much higher in 1911 when a frenchman flying under the name of André Beaumont won the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race starting and finishing at Brooklands in Surrey and touching down in Edinburgh en route. His prize money was £10,000, the equivalent of over £1 million today.

Commercial flying developed from the mid-1920s. In 1924, Imperial Airways was formed from a combination of several small struggling companies subsidised by the government to develop Britain’s external air routes. Passenger numbers grew from 10,300 in 1925 to 62,100 in 1938.

Early airliner, possibly of type used by Imperial Airlines, c1925

Aeroplanes have even been manufactured on Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Local cycle maker John Gibson also described himself from 1910 to 1913 as an aeroplane designer and builder. He built a biplane which was followed by two further improved versions. The second had a production run of 10 and the third version had twin propellers. His advert from c1911 offers a complete biplane for £450 pounds – that’s about £50,000 in today’s money.

Gibson’s Aeroplanes of Leith Walk, c1910

Catch up with the other blog posts in this short series on early flight:

Daredevils and wing-walkers

Chocks away! Edinburgh from the air

The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: Robert Butchart

Robert Butchart held the post of Edinburgh City Librarian from 1942 until 1953. Mr Butchart had a particular interest in topographical prints of Old Edinburgh, and collected drawings by the likes of Bruce J. Home and engravings by John Ewbank. After Mr Butchart retired, he published a book in 1955 entitled, ‘Prints and Drawings of Edinburgh’, giving ‘A descriptive account of the collection in the Edinburgh Room of the Central Public Library’. Mr Butchart wrote with pride of the collection of prints and drawings held by the then Edinburgh Room which had been accumulated over the previous 25 years, claiming it ‘undoubtedly ranks as the finest collection in existence of topographical and historical prints of the City’.

In October 1982, Mr Butchart’s personal collection was presented to the Central Library by his daughter, Miss Jean Butchart. In this short film, she explains why she felt it appropriate that the majority of the prints from her father’s collection should be housed in the library where he had first become inspired by the subject.

The prints collection of the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection at Central Library has continued to grow since Mr Butchart’s tenure and you can now search many more hundreds of stunning images of Edinburgh from our collections on Capital Collections.

Read all the articles in this series of ‘The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries’:

George Washington Browne: architect

Andrew Carnegie: steelmaker and philanthropist

Henry Dyer, engineer, educationist and Japanophile

William McEwan: brewer and philanthropist

David Mather Masson: scholar and biographer

Thomas Ross: architect and antiquarian

Charles Boog Watson: local historian and antiquarian

The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: Henry Dyer

Over the years, a number of individuals have helped shape Edinburgh City Libraries and our collections. In a series of posts, we’ll throw the spotlight on a few of these influential figures from our past and describe how their philanthropy helped our library collections evolve and grow in significance.
The Five Festivals - Spring FestivalWe start our series with arguably our most significant benefactor: Henry Dyer, engineer, educationist and Japanophile.

Henry Dyer was born in 1848 in the parish of Bothwell, Lanarkshire. In 1857 the family moved to Shotts where he received most of his schooling. From 1865 he was employed as an apprentice at James Aitken and Company’s foundry in Cranstonhill, Glasgow and while there he also attended classes at Anderson’s College (later Strathclyde University). He graduated from Glasgow University in 1873 with a degree in engineering. On the recommendation of his professor he was invited to become the Principal of the new Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo in 1873.

Greatly esteemed by the Japanese, his teaching methods were credited with assisting in the rapid industrialisation of Japan and in 1882 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (Third Class). Dyer returned to Scotland in 1882 bringing with him numerous art works and instruments. In Glasgow he continued to make a valuable contribution to engineering education and was awarded both an honorary DSc and LLD from the University of Glasgow.

Henry Dyer died on 25 September, 1918 at his home in Glasgow. After his death a substantial bequest was given to the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, which included papers relating to his roles as engineer and educator. It also included Japanese artworks and artefacts. He donated musical instruments to Glasgow Museums. In 1945 and 1955 Edinburgh City Libraries received two donations via his daughter Marie Ferguson Dyer.

336The Edinburgh City Libraries bequest consists of 50 loose Japanese woodblock prints, a number of bound woodblock printed volumes, painted scrolls and a collection of nineteenth century Japanese photographs, attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried. Much of the Dyer Collection is available to browse on Capital Collections (www.capitalcollections.org.uk) including several online exhibitions:

Get in touch if you’re interested to come into Central Library and see items from the Dyer Collection or any other material from our Special Collections. If you have archival material related to Edinburgh, Scotland or Scots abroad, and would like to help our collections continue to grow, contact eclis@edinburgh.gov.uk .

Read all the articles in this series of ‘The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries’:

George Washington Browne: architect

Robert Butchart: City Librarian

Andrew Carnegie: steelmaker and philanthropist

William McEwan: brewer and philanthropist

David Mather Masson: scholar and biographer

Thomas Ross: architect and antiquarian

Charles Boog Watson: local historian and antiquarian

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.