Queensferry Crossing

Transport Scotland have kindly shared their simply spectacular photographs of the Queensferry Crossing project with us.

These stunning pictures show the construction work and development of the Queensferry Crossing as it emerges out of the Forth. The pictures document the progress of the bridge building project and date from 2014 to present.

Enjoy the full online exhibition on Capital Collections.

You can also find out more about the Queensferry Crossing project and history from the Forth Bridges website.

With huge thanks to Transport Scotland for allowing us to put these fantastic images online.

Illustrated Song Sheets from the Music Library collections

In 2014, whilst staff at the Central Music Library were preparing for the move of the Library from no. 9 to no. 7 George IV Bridge, they uncovered a box of Victorian and Edwardian illustrated song sheets. This unexpected find had been carefully stored and tucked away on the Annexe shelves. Further investigation has found the collection to contain works by many of the major lithographic artists of the genre.

The Shop-Girl Valse, c1895

The Shop-Girl Valse, illustration by W. George c1895

The majority of the music scores date from the mid-Victorian era when both colour lithography and music sheets were at their peak in innovation and output.  The Victorian era had a burgeoning live entertainment industry, with packed music halls and populist performers such as George Leyborne and Arthur Lloyd. As the music hall scene became more accessible to the wider middle classes and with the emergence of the piano in the parlours of respectable Victorian homes the demand for music sheets increased.

Demand was coupled with advances in colour lithography which made it possible to create for the first time, elaborate and quite technically advanced illustrations.

Girofle Girofla, illustration by Alfred Concanen, 1874

Girofle Girofla, illustration by Alfred Concanen, 1874

The Music Library collection contains illustrations by such well-known lithographic artists as Alfred Conanen, John Brandard, HG Banks, HC Maguire and Thomas Packer amongst others, displaying a variety of styles and subjects. The song sheet illustrations also chart developments within colour lithography with the move towards the use of machines at the end of the nineteenth century, and the advent of the use of photography and typography within song sheet cover production.

Me-ow One Step, illustration by T. Ray, c1919

Me-ow One Step, illustration by T. Ray, c1919

The song sheet collection provides a visual history of Victorian and Edwardian life and a fascinating insight into the world of music hall entertainment.

Come and see a selection of the song sheets on display in the Mezzanine, Central Library (2- 29 September 2016) and or browse them online in a special Capital Collections exhibition.

If you’d like to find out more about the Illustrated Song Sheet Collection contact 0131 242 8050 or email central.music.library@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Welcome World and goodbye Festival 2016

As the Festival draws to a close for another year, here’s a chance to relive the Deep Time spectacular that kicked off the Edinburgh International Festival programme in dazzling style just 3 weeks ago.

 

View all the amazing pictures on Capital Collections.

Going to the pictures

Nowadays, we can stream a film directly to our mobile devices or TVs to watch at our own convenience. Gone are the days when hundreds of children would spend a morning or afternoon queuing up noisily to see the latest adventures of Hopalong Cassidy, Abbot and Costello, The Lone Ranger and Laurel and Hardy, to name a few. These were times when films were shown continuously, which meant you could spend hours at the cinema, if you managed to keep out of sight of an usherette!

The first purpose built cinema to open in Edinburgh was The Haymarket Cinema opening in 1912. In 1914, The Cameo (then called The Kings Cinema) opened, and is one of the oldest cinemas still open in Scotland. It was estimated that by 1917 there were 24 cinemas in Edinburgh. When the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre opened in 1929, it was the city’s first super cinema, able to seat up to 3000 people.

Cameo Cinema, Tollcross, Edinburgh

The Cameo Cinema, opened in 1914

Talkies arrived in the late 1920s, but before then cinema operators would enhance the viewing experience by using music and orchestras or adding their own home-made sounds for effects such as horses’ hooves, pistol shots and explosives.

Children’s Saturday film clubs with songs, quizzes and safety-first films were extremely popular, the first one started in the New Tivoli in 1934. There was even a song for the ABC Cinema club, which would be sung enthusiastically at the beginning of the proceedings.

We are the boys and girls well known as

Minors of the ABC,

And every Saturday all line up

To see the films we like and shout with glee

We like to laugh and have our sing-song

Just a happy crowd are we-e

We’re all pals together

We’re Minors of the ABC

Tivoli Cinema, Gorgie Road, Edinburgh

The Tivoli, Gorgie.

Alas, most of the cinemas built in the 20s and 30s no longer exist. These were built in the heyday of Art Deco and were magnificent to look at, both inside and out. Many were turned into Bingo Halls or demolished.

George (formerly County) Cinema, Portobello

The George (formerly County) cinema, Portobello

Edinburgh has one of Britain’s last remaining independently-run cinemas. The Dominion Cinema in Morningside opened in 1938 and is still owned and run by the Cameron family. Erected in only 3 months, The Dominion was one of the last and most characteristic Art Deco buildings in Edinburgh.

Dominion Cinema, Newbattle Terrace

The Doninion Cinema, Morningside

Edinburgh is also host to the longest continually running film festival in the world, The Edinburgh International Film Festival. Established in 1947, it originally viewed documentary films and as its reputation grew expanded to incorporate international films. EIFF’s success has continued and notable films premiered include Brave, the Hurt Locker, Billy Elliot, Little Miss Sunshine, and this year, a remake of the 1949 film Whisky Galore!

DSC00576

The Filmhouse, Edinburgh, host of the EIFF

Edinburgh has also featured in many films. One of the earliest, The Body Snatcher (1945) featuring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, was based on the short story of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. With many references to Burke, Hare and Dr Knox, it was marketed as “The screen’s last word in shock sensation”!

Another film adaption from a book by Edinburgh author Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was released in 1969 and featured Edinburgh heavily.  Donaldson’s School (now Edinburgh Academy) on Henderson Row stood in for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, and when Jean leads her charges on a tour of the city, the Grassmarket, the Vennel, Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Churchyard all feature.

The Vennel

The Vennel

Probably the most well known film featuring Edinburgh is Trainspotting, and yes by yet another Edinburgh author, Irvine Welsh. Although the book is based in Edinburgh, Leith in particular, very little of it was actually filmed here. One very famous scene was though, Renton and Spud being chased by security staff along Princes Street.

Princes Street, looking west, Edinburgh

Princes Street

To see more photos of Edinburgh Cinemas, some now long gone, visit Capital Collections.

 

All that jazz and blues!

With the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival running 15-24 July 2016 the Music Library is enjoying all things jazz.

Display of Library material
Whether your tastes are 1920s traditional jazz or the cutting edge of contemporary musicians, the Music Library can satisfy your interests with CDs, DVDs, sheets music, biographies of your favourite musicians, and books on the history of jazz and blues. View just some of our material to get your interests going.  We’re showcasing some of our stock on offer in a special display alongside archive material from the Edinburgh Jazz Archive located in the Music Library.

Andrew Lauder playing trumpet

Andrew Lauder on trumpet

This year’s festival is committed to showcasing new talent and will be introducing audiences to some of the rising stars alongside established names. Listen to many of these names – new and old – on the go, at home, or in the Music Library with Naxos Music Library Jazz music streaming service – all you need is a library card.

Every picture tells a story – Bill Hall’s Family Album

Many of us have photo albums at home; possibly passed on from other members of the family all packed with photographs of loved ones at various stages in their lives.

While researching the Union Canal for an Our Town Story, we contacted Bill Hall who had a fantastic photograph of a relative that we wanted to use. During our conversation, he happened to mentioned that he had many others spreading right across his family, also a photo album packed full of photographs, would we be interested in seeing them?

The images in the album, date from the early 1900s through to the 1970s covering various events along the way.

There are studio portraits, very popular in the days before most families had their own cameras, everyone posing in their ‘Sunday best’.  Informal photographs of days at the seaside and outings on steamboats down the Clyde.

Margaret and Willie McCubben

Margaret and Willie McCubben, relatives on Bill’s mother’s side

Several of the photos show one member of the family, Archie Tait, a former ploughman at Wilkie’s Basin near Ratho. Archie had joined Edinburgh City Police in 1914 before enlisting with the army in 1915. He and his two cousins became Lovat Scouts which in 1916 became the British Army’s first sniper unit, then known as sharpshooters.  All three survived the war and Archie returned to the police force as a mounted policeman.

Archie Tait with Peter and Andrew Clark his cousins

Archie Tait (Bill’s great-great-uncle) with his cousins, Peter and Andrew Clark

An historical moment was captured and put in the album – the Airship R101’s endurance trial voyage which flew over Edinburgh on 17th November 1929.  The R101 was one of a pair of British Airships that were built as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. The trial flight flew over the North of England to Edinburgh and Glasgow and then over the Irish Sea to Dublin.

R 101 Airship over Edinburgh rooftops

R 101 Airship over Edinburgh rooftops

Like many family albums, there are photographs of people that no one recognises. Most get thrown away for that reason, but more often than not, they are kept in the hope that someone will eventually say…”oh, that’s Aunty so and so”. Bill can’t help us with this one below, but it is a great example of the type of prop that many studio photographers used for family portraits in Edwardian times. Backdrops and objects were used to create illusions, days at the sea side, or in this case a family on a drive in the countryside.

Unidentified family

Unidentified family

In Bill’s album a few pages have the photos removed, maybe lost over the years or perhaps given to other members of the family; all that’s left are the photo corners showing where they once were.

Browse all the wonderful pictures from Bill Hall’s family album on Capital Collections.

Japanese handscroll returns from conservation

Last week, we unveiled a rare and beautiful early 18th century Japanese handscroll, which has returned to Edinburgh Central Library after a two year restoration process in the Netherlands.

We found the 300-year-old painted scroll, created by Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa, in our special collections in 2012 – it had lain unnoticed for many years.

We worked with National Museums Scotland to secure funding from the Sumitomo Foundation to restore the scroll to its former glory. Restorient Studios, specialist restorers based in Leiden, the Netherlands, did the work. They relined the scroll, consolidated the pigments to reduce the impact of aging, and they provided a custom-made silk casing.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Culture and Sport Convener, said, “It is fantastic to see this striking painting so beautifully restored, thanks to generous funding from The Sumitomo Foundation.

“It is also down to the enthusiasm of libraries staff, alongside National Museums Scotland’s curators, that this artwork has been rediscovered and given the attention it deserves.”

Dr Rosina Buckland, Senior Curator, National Museum of Scotland, said: “Edinburgh Central Library holds a rare and beautiful Japanese painting, created three hundred years ago, presenting the theatre district of historic Tokyo (then known as Edo).

“To ensure their preservation, East Asian paintings must undergo a complex process of remounting periodically. We are extremely grateful to the Sumitomo Foundation for generously funding this delicate and specialized conservation work, which will allow the painting to be put on display for the public’s enjoyment.”

DSC_3450 copyscroll image

The scroll is called ‘Theatres of the East’, and it shows a street scene in the theatre district of Edo, Tokyo. The daughter of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major role in revolutionising the Japanese education system, donated it to the Central Library in 1945.

Now that the scroll has been restored, it will go on public display in the National Museum of Scotland’s new East Asia Gallery from 2018.

Images of the scroll before its restoration are currently available to view on the Capital Collections website.