Leith Miscellany goes online – part 3

This blog post highlights items found in the last 5 volumes of the Leith Miscellany (volumes IX – XIII) – and there is a lot to cover!

There are images of various shops in Leith. One photo shows David Ford’s fruit and veg shop which was in the Kirkgate. Two female shopkeepers are captured standing proudly outside alongside their display of produce. In another, the Leith Walk Co-op state firmly “SCWS (Scottish Wholesale Co-Operative) Goods Are All Scottish Made”.

Ford’s shopfront – Kirkgate grocer

The Leith Hospital Pageant was held each June from the 1890s for many years to collect money for the hospital. Floats and employees representing many of the businesses in Leith took part. In the image below from around 1931, we can see Leith bakers leaving the Bakers’ Rooms in North Fort Street to join the Pageant.

Leith bakers

Trams and transport feature a lot in these five volumes. During World War One, Leith Corporation employed women as conductresses and drivers to replace men who had joined the armed services. You can view a picture of a group of wartime conductresses as well as tickets for a journey from Junction Bridge to Granton costing 1d.

Tramway Ticket Junction Bridge – Granton

The last batch of photographs are taken from various productions from the Leith Amateur Opera Company. These cards show the performers and costumes of the various productions including The Mikado.

Leith Amateur Opera Company – Mikado

We hope you have enjoyed looking at some of the material from the Leith Miscellany volumes. To see the items from all thirteen volumes visit Capital Collections.

To see more highlights from the collection catch up with the previous posts in this series:
Leith Miscellany part one, volumes I – IV
Leith Miscellany part two, volumes V – VIII

Leith Miscellany goes online – part 2

Continuing our short series of posts about the Leith Miscellany volumes, the next four volumes in the series (volumes V – VIII) again show various aspects of Leith and environs. We see images of Newhaven, featuring the Newhaven Fishwives’ Choir. Unfortunately, these are in black and white so we are unable to get the full impact of how they really looked, dressed in their traditional costume of striped coloured petticoats under a gathered skirt and brightly coloured tops with shawls over their heads and shoulders.

Newhaven Fishwives’ Choir

There are pictures of another Leith Harbour, this one in South Georgia in the south Atlantic. This was a whaling station run by Christian Salvesen Ltd between 1909-1965. Salvesen’s whaling ships brought the first penguins back and donated them to Edinburgh Zoo, which became the first zoo in the world to keep and breed penguins.

Leith Harbour, South Georgia

The photographs and newspaper cuttings in the thirteen volumes of Leith Miscellany were collected by the Reverend Dr James Scot Marshall.The depth of knowledge of the history of Leith earned Dr Marshall a reputation as the area’s historian. He completed his doctorate on the history of Leith and wrote histories of South Leith and Kirkgate Church, The Church in the Midst and The Story of North Leith Church.  Various churches in and around Leith also feature among this set. One grand looking church, Leith Kirkgate Church which was demolished in 1975, stood at the beginning of Henderson Street where South Leith Parish Church Halls stand now. We can also view various plans of South Leith Parish Church.

South Leith Parish Church

These volumes truly are eclectic, offering something for everyone. Did you know that Leith had its own Olympian back in 1920? Another picture here depicts Alec Ireland in true fighting pose, commemorating his silver medal win in the 7th Olympiad, which was held in Antwerp in 1920. He lost out on a gold medal by one point!

Alec Ireland (1903-1966)

Keeping with the sporting theme, there are several images of local football teams. Does anyone remember Leith Hawthorn, Leith Rosebery  or Leith Athletic football teams?

Leith Athletic football team, c1924

View all the volumes on Capital Collections and look out for the third and final installment previewing volumes IX – XIII.

Read more about the Leith Miscellany project in the first blog post in this series:
Leith Miscellany goes online – part 1.

Leith Miscellany goes online – part 1

We’ve recently undertaken a large project to digitise and make available online thirteen albums relating to Leith. We’ve named them the Leith Miscellany volumes I – XIII as the contents cover basically everything and anything to do with Leith. They provide an extraordinary and unique insight into the social history of the area.

Originally collected in shop-bought photograph albums, the sticky album pages and damp had caused minor damage to some of the contents, so as well as digitising the photographs, postcards, presscuttings and ephemera, we have remounted the items on archival cardboard and rehoused them in conservation boxes.

The Fish Quay, – looking up-river, c1830

This is the first in a series of three blog posts highlighting the material and covers volumes I – IV. Inside, you get a real feel of what it was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with photographs of cargo boats and steamers and images of the bustling port of Leith.

View in Leith Docks, c1865

There are photographs of streets in Leith that no longer exist. Adults and children caught in blurry images standing in cobbled streets with washing hanging above them. Bartenders stand proudly behind the bar of a local pub waiting for the next customer to come in. Outside the Custom House (image below), a large group of men have gathered. What are they doing – gambling, perhaps?.You find yourself wishing that you could just squeeze in among them to find out. Meanwhile people pass by, going about their own business.

Leith Custom House

In another image we see the many flat capped dockers on strike in 1913, with banners proclaiming, ‘We Are Out For A Living Wage’. The strike lasted from 26 June to 14 August. The dockers wanted an increase in pay (a penny per hour on the day rate), better conditions, a ban on hiring non-union workers and shorter hours. We get a glimpse of what working life was like in a busy shipbuilders, with a look in the Henry Robb shipwrights shop in 1921. We can see a dozen men going about their daily job of sawing and shaping wood, with piles of wood shavings at their feet.

Messrs Henry Robb Ltd, Shipwrights’ Shop at Albert Road

View the full albums on Capital Collections and look out for the next blog post in this series for more on this collection.

Read the second part in this series about the Leith Miscellany project and volumes V – VIII.

 

The Living Memory Association and Edinburgh Collected

We’re thrilled to announce that the Living Memory Association, Edinburgh’s Reminiscence Centre, has moved its photo archive onto Edinburgh Collected (www.edinburghcollected.org) where it is searchable alongside other community photographs and memories of Edinburgh.

The Living Memory Association have been collecting old family and personal photographs donated by members of the public since 2002. Most are of Edinburgh, and the majority are from the 20th century, but the oldest photographs date from 1850.

Some people might wonder why they’ve collected family photos and snaps of everyday life –  images of family life, childhood, work, recreation, school and holidays?

Evelyn Whitfield (née Sime)
“The Guide uniform was a bright blue cotton tunic, worn with a leather belt with a buckle. Later, older Guides were allowed to wear the tunic tucked into a navy skirt. The tie was bright yellow and had to be folded and knotted correctly. The metal badge had to be polished with Brasso and pinned on. The embroidered badge showed I was in the Chaffinch Patrol. The beret was navy…
The calendar was a Guide Association one. The flying duck was, of course, one of a set of three.” – Evelyn Whitfield

Well, simply because they are ordinary. The archive is a celebration and a record of the richness of ordinary lives, lived, quite often, through some extraordinary times.

Violet Watt and sister Alice Flockhart pretending to ride Bryce Watt’s bike. (Probably Calton Hill.)
The bike is a 1952 AJS model 20 500cc twin.

You can now explore over 2500 images in the Living Memory Association’s archive of personal memories online on Edinburgh Collected.

Read more on this story on the City of Edinburgh Council’s News blog.

Album of Victorian travel photography

By the mid 1800s, photography was bringing foreign destinations closer to home. Previously, if you wanted to know what far off lands looked like, you were reliant on descriptions or artistic interpretation. Photography provided an unprecedented ‘true’ picture of unknown places.

Street in Chester

The growth in photography allowed armchair travellers to obtain a record of the world beyond their experience. It also encouraged those fortunate enough to have the means to travel, to venture to new exotic destinations where they could collect photographic mementoes of their holidays.

By the late 1800s, several professional photographers employed teams armed with heavy cameras, equipment and glass plates who would travel across Britain, Europe and further afield to China, Japan and the USA photographing popular tourist attractions and daily life in these unfamilar locations. Some employed sales representatives who would visit stationers and newsagents shops persuading them to stock and sell their company’s souvenir views.

Naples

Our latest Capital Collections exhibition features an album containing examples of some touring photographers’ work. We don’t know who compiled this photograph album but most of the photographs have dates noted underneath as if to indicate when the locations were visited. The dates start at 23 August 1881 and finish at 12 July 1882.

The album features scenes from England, Wales and Scotland and also places in Europe such as Genoa, Nice and Pompeii. Some of the photographers can be identified by their stamp on the image, but many are unknown. There are photographs by Francis Frith, a pioneer travel photographer who set out to create accurate and unromantic photographs of as many cities, towns, and villages of the British Isles as possible and sell copies of the photographs to the public.

Fingal’s Cave

Another photographer who features in the album is James Valentine from Dundee who produced Scottish topographical views from the 1860s. He later became internationally famous as a producer of postcards. George Washington Wilson, who established himself as one of Scotland’s premier photographers, is also represented. By the time of his death in 1893, his firm was one of the largest publishers of photographic prints in the world.

Worshippers in the Temple of Isis, Pompei

You can view all of the fantastic photographs from this early travel photography album on Capital Collections.

History of the house: Nicolson Square and Marshall Street

Nicolson Square is one of a collection of small garden areas on the southside of the city including St Patrick Square Garden, Hill Square, and Deaconess Garden.

Nicolson Square was built on land owned by Lady Nicolson (Elizabeth Carnegie) around 1743 as a memorial to her husband Sir James Nicolson of Lasswade Bart. The area became a sought after location attracting notable residents. In 1784, Lady Sinclair of Stevenson moved in. David, Earl of Leven and Melville, Commissioner to the General Assembly was also a resident. The Orientalist and surgeon, John Borthwick lived at number 3 for a time.

The southwest corner is occupied by the Wesleyan Methodist Church which was built in 1814. It was designed by architect Thomas Brown to replace the first octagonal chapel in Scotland. It is Scotland’s only Grade A listed Methodist Church.

Nicolson Square, Methodist Chapel c1914

In the latter part of the 19th century numbers 1-11 and 43-45 Nicolson Square began to change as properties were subdivided into flats, shops and a school. This continued into the 20th century with many buildings losing former unique architectural features.

Marshall Street is the link from Nicolson Square to Potterrow and we have focused our research on number 16. We’ve looked at census reports, valuation rolls and the Edinburgh Post Office Directories to enable us to look closer at a few of the previous inhabitants.

Nicolson Square and Marshall Street by J. R. Hamilton, 1914

In 1881 we find several tradesmen living at the property including Duncan MacDonald (57), a tailor clothier from Aberdeen, James Hayes (39), a paper cutter and bookbinder born in Edinburgh and Peter Wood (25) a fruit warehouseman from Coldstream.

Rogerson family
There is also Charles Rogerson aged 32 and a plumber who was born in London. He’s living at the property with his wife Jane and two sons Charles (4) and William (3) and his retired and widowed father, William.

Jane died in 1882 and Charles remarried in 1883 to Catherine. His family continued to live at number 16 and in the 1891 census son Charles, now 15, is a confectioner and William (6), a scholar. In addition there are three stepdaughters Elizabeth A Porter (19) working as an envelope machinist, Barbara Porter (17), a box maker and Auqusias Porter (11), a scholar.

Somerville family
Also living at number 16 was Peter Somerville, aged 32 and working as a journeyman joiner, born in Auchterarder. (Ten years earlier he was living in Auchterarder in Perthshire with his parents who were cotton weavers.) By 1881, Peter was married to Helen (28) and they had three young children Helen (7), John (5) and William (1).

The Somerville family was still living at number 16 in 1891 and the census shows daughter Helen is now a dressmaker and both sons are employed as message boys. A niece, Kate Porteous aged 21 is also listed at the address at the time of census.

By 1901, the family had moved a few streets south to Buccleuch Terrace. Daughter Helen (listed as Nellie) is still a dressmaker but John is now a joiner like his father and William is a bricklayer.

World War One zeppelin raid
During World War One, on the night of 2 April 1916, tragedy struck Marshall Street. A German Zeppelin dropped a bomb which landed outside number 16 killing 6 people, 4 of whom lived at number 16.

After the 1916 Zeppelin Raid, Marshall Street, image from The Evening Dispatch

John and William Smith
John Smith was a tinsmith married to Helen Thomson. From the 1891 Census we learn that aged 16 he lived in Marshall Street and was an apprentice tinsmith. His father William aged 50, was a plumber. John had six sisters and two brothers. One sister was a dressmaker and another a shirt maker. One brother was also an apprentice tinsmith. The other children, even down to a 3 year old, are listed as scholars.

By the time of the 1901 census, his father William has moved to 4 Melville Terrace with his wife Margaret, four daughters and one son.

John, now 26 and a qualified Tinsmith, has moved to 26 Buccleuch Place with his wife Helen and their new baby William.

By the 1911 census, John and family are living at 15 West Cross Causeway and a Victor Macfarlane is a visitor on census night.

The family move again and the valuation roll of 1915 shows them at 16 Marshall Street.

Both John and and his son, William aged 15, were victims of the bomb.

Henry Rumble
Henry Rumble was born at Roslin in 1899 when his parents were living in married quarters at Glencorse. By the 1901 census, the family had moved to 51 Drummond Street in Edinburgh. His father Alfred (49) was a tramcar driver who was born in England. His mother Mary was born in Ireland, sister Sarah (15) in Glasgow, brother William (12) in England and sisters Alice (7) and Ida (4) at Roslin. Alfred died in 1908.

The 1911 census shows his mother Mary living very near to Marshall Street at 11 Lothian Street with three children. Henry, aged 12 is by this time an inmate of the St Joseph’s Industrial School for boys at Tranent where he would have received work training in addition to classroom tuition.

The 1915 Valuation Roll lists Mary Rumble, his mother at 16 Marshall Street. Henry who may have moved back to be with her, was another victim of the bomb blast.

David T Graham
David was born in 1865 at North Sunderland. His father Alexander was carrying on the family trade as a baker and he and his wife Sarah already had three sons and three daughters. David’s occupation by the time of the 1901 census is a grocer. At that time, he was living with his mother in Northumberland but little more is known of him. His mother died in the first quarter of 1916.

David died in the bomb but we do not know how he got caught up in the blast on Marshall street. His occupation on the death certificate, verified by his brother, is Chief Cinema Attendant.

Victor Macfarlane
Victor Macfarlane was born in 1892 and was married to Jean Boyd on 29 March 1913. They lived at 16 Marshall Street and both had jobs as waiters. (Victor also had a connection with the Smith family (see above) as he appears as a visitor to their house in the 1911 Census.)

Victor was killed by the zeppelin bomb on Marshall Street.

William Ewing
William was a master hairdresser and aged 23. His usual residence was in Kirkintilloch and he must have been on a visit to Edinburgh when he was caught in the bomb blast.

 

Have you ever thought about investigating the history of your home? Edinburgh Libraries has many online resources and physical collections to help you.

Get in touch via informationdigital@edinburgh.gov.uk if you want to find out how to get started.

Read other articles in this ‘History of the house’ series:
History of the house: King’s Wark
History of the house: Bowhead house

 

Harpies, Fechters and Quines 2018 – Women, War and the Book

Monday’s launch of the Harpies, Fechters and Quines festival saw the annual 2 week programme of events off to a flying start!

Edinburgh Libraries is working in association with the Bonnie Fechters, a local women’s group, and with Scotland’s War, the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Workers’ Educational Association to deliver a range of activities. These include talks, workshops, an exhibition, a film and a concert.  As a result, there are lots of opportunities to come along and join in.

Tapestry kindly loaned for display by the Workers’ Educational Association stitchers (Mezzanine, Central Library)

Whether you want to sing along at the Lena Ashwell concert, produce some creative writing, experience early film or simply look at the commemorative tapestries you are warmly welcome. You’ll find details of all the forthcoming events at www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk.