Edinburgh as you’ve never seen it before

One of the most fun elements of the Our Town Stories site are the ‘Then and Now’ pictures.

You can move the slider to create a wonderful ghostly effect:

Newington road 'then and Now' from Our Town Stories

Newington Road ‘Then and Now’ from Our Town Stories

Here are the ten most popular ‘Then and Now’ pictures from the site. Take a look and let us know which one(s) you like best.

Lawnmarket and the head of West Bow (1874)

North Bridge (1885)

Newsome’s Circus, Nicolson Street (1890)

Leith Harbour (1912)

John Knox’s House (1880)

Foot of Leith Walk (1912) 

(See how the tram turns into a bus)

Royal Arch, Newington Road (1903)

Croall Place (1890)

The Shore (1910)

Meadowbank Velodrome (1970)

Contributions wanted for the Edinburgh Jazz Archive

Edinburgh Libraries are home to some very special, and unique, collections.

One of these is the Edinburgh Jazz Archive, which is kept at the Music department in Central Library.

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Old Bailey and his Traditional Jazz Advocates, Staten Suite, 1963

As well as charting the rise of stars such as Sandy Brown, Al Fairweather, Archie Semple and Alex Welsh, the archive includes rare recordings and other memorabilia tracking the story of Edinburgh’s unique jazz scene over the last 60 years.

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Stu Eaton (trumpet) and Sandy Brown (clarinet), 1948

There may be other jazz enthusiasts out there who have material which would augment this collection. Do you, or does someone you know, have material relevant to the Edinburgh Jazz scene, which you’d be happy to donate? We’re looking for LPs, CDs, EPs or cassettes relating to Edinburgh Jazz. Photographs, DVDs and other memorabilia would also be welcome.

If you have memories or information you think might be useful we’d love to hear from you. Call 0131 242 8050 or email central.music.library@edinburgh.gov.uk

You can view more photographs from the archive on Capital Collections

Happy Robert Louis Stevenson Day!


Every year on 13 November Edinburgh celebrates the birthday of one of our most famous literary sons.

Today and tomorrow libraries are hosting lots of free, family friendly events. Come along and join in the fun. We’ve pirate parties, treasure hunts and crafts galore. For a complete listing of  RLS Day events visit the Edinburgh City of Literature website.

Or visit the Writers’ Museum, just off the Royal Mile, to discover more about Robert Louis Stevenson’s remarkable life.

Among the wealth of amazing objects on display are photographs, artefacts illuminating Stevenson’s time in Samoa, as well as his ring, riding boots and first editions of some of his works. Explore the museum for free.

Tortoiseshell and silver 'Tusitala' ('storyteller') ring

Tortoiseshell and silver “Tusitala” (“storyteller”) ring

And to celebrate RLS day, the award-winning living history group, Edinburgh Living History, will entertain you in the Writers’ Museum. There are free performances at 1pm and 2pm today and tomorrow  (13 and 14 November) They will be performing dramatised readings from some of RLS’s works, particularly his short stories and poetry. No need to book, just come along on the day.

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Fist edition of “A Child’s Garden of Verses”

Top 10 Robert Louis Stevenson quotations


The fan-tash-tic staff at Muirhouse Library are getting ready to celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson Day this Friday (13 November)

And to get you in the mood here are our top 10 RLS quotations:

Nothing like a little judicious levity.
The Wrong Box, 1889

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.
Reflections and remarks on human life, 1898

Fiction is to the grown man what play is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life.
The Lantern Bearers, 1882

Youth is wholly experimental.
Letter to a Young Gentleman, Scribner’s Magazine, 1888

The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.
Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers, 1881

It is a pleasant thing to be young, and have ten toes.
Treasure Island, 1883

All human beings are commingled out of good and evil.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Treasure Island, 1883

The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to effect him precisely as you wish.
Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers, 1881

The man who forgets to be grateful has fallen asleep in life.
Letters, 1884

See a list of all RLSDay events taking place in Edinburgh on the Edinburgh City of Literature site.

In the night garden

Locked and secret, Night in the Garden is where the natural world forgets all about human interlopers and revels in starlit glory.

Malcolm Innes and Euan Winton, October 2014

These ethereal glimpses into the Botanics’ night garden were taken last year during their first sound and light show.

You can browse more on Capital Collections.

Botanic Lights are returning to the Royal Botanic Garden this autumn, so why not share your pictures with us on Edinburgh Collected?


The Father of Scottish Democracy

I have devoted myself to the cause of the people. It is a good cause – It shall ultimately prevail – It shall finally triumph. Thomas Muir

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The large obelisk in the foreground of this picture stands as a monument to those radical reformers, including Thomas Muir, who were tried, convicted and deported for sedition in 1793.

In the wake of the French and American Revolutions Muir and his associates had been active in a widespread movement for political and social reform in Britain. The movement attracted alarm and extreme sanction from both the political establishment and conservative elements in society.

As we heard at a recent Edinburgh Reads event, Muir is not the household name he should be, something that is being addressed throughout this year, the 250th anniversary of his birth.

As part of the commemorations the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection in Central Library is currently hosting an exhibition entitled Thomas Muir: Father of Scottish Democracy consisting of seven large illustrated panels telling the story of Muir’s life, struggle and legacy.

The exhibition, which has been put together by The Friends of Thomas Muir, will be on display until the end of October.

The Church Hill Theatre at 50

September 2015 saw the 50th anniversary of the Church Hill Theatre. Take a look at this vibrant community theatre in our latest exhibition on Capital Collections.

Students from J R Tucker High School of The American High School Theatre Festival in rehearsal.

Students from J R Tucker High School of The American High School Theatre Festival in rehearsal.

The Church Hill Theatre opened in 1965 with a performance of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. The event is commemorated within Kenny Munro’s sculptural pillars that stand in the venue’s driveway. Look closely next time you’re passing and you’ll see Miss Prism’s bag amongst the symbols and motifs.

Many of the photos in this exhibition were taken during August when we gained privileged access to The American High School Theatre Festival’s technical rehearsals and to the final swashbuckling performance of ‘Zorro – the Musical’.  The photos show the theatre in action and as a hotbed of fresh talent.

Zorro - the Musical, performed by Chadwick School, of The American High School Theatre Festival.

Zorro – the Musical, performed by Chadwick School, of The American High School Theatre Festival.

You can also see lovely pictures from The Church Hill Theatre’s past  (including that inaugural performance and the very first panto) on Edinburgh Collected, where they’re inviting memories of this unique civic space – why not add yours?

Many thanks again to The Church Hill Theatre and The American High School Theatre Festival for all their help and support with this project. In particular, thanks to George Ranch High School, Texas, Poly Prep School, New York, J R Tucker High School, Virginia and Chadwick School, California.