Looking At Edinburgh

9 December 2008

Autumn in Rosebank Cemetery

graves in Rosebank Cemetery

Rosebank Cemetery was opened in 1846 by the Edinburgh and Leith Cemetery Company. The cemetery includes a mass grave, marked by a Celtic cross, of 215 men of the Royal Scots who came from Edinburgh and Leith and who were killed in the Gretna Rail Disaster of 1915. The cemetery also contains the memorials of many Leith ship-owners and merchants, and of two servants of Queen Victoria. There is also a small Moslem section.

This photo is available on Redbubble: Autumn in Rosebank Cemetery.

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11 November 2008

Remembrance Day: the Trümmerfrau

Filed under: art, history, photos — Tags: , , , , , , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

Trümmerfrau, Dresden

In the years after the Allied bombing of German cities, women did the hard and dirty labour of clearing away the fallen rubble. This monument to those women stands on the Rathausplatz: it was created by Walter Reinhold in 1952.

The city of Dresden was bombed catastrophically on 13th/14th February 1945, destroying the city centre and killing at least 35 000 of the people who lived there and an unknown number of refugees – Vera Brittain, who visited Dresden in the 1940s, estimates about a hundred thousand may have been killed.

This photo is available on Redbubble: Trümmerfrau, Dresden.

9 November 2008

Edward VII in Victoria Park

Filed under: art, history, photos — Tags: , , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

a statue of Ed ard VII in Victoria Park

Albert Edward Wettin, eldest son of Alexandrina Victoria Guelph and Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel Wettin, nicknamed Bertie, crowned Edward VII, was born on 9th November 1841, inherited 22nd January 1901, crowned 9th August 1902, and died on 6th May 1910. His mother didn’t allow him any active role in the monarchy till 1898, three years before she died. His mother’s first act of defiance against her mother, when Victoria became Queen at 18, was to move into her own room: it wasn’t exactly the first act of defiance, but Bertie decided to be crowned King Edward, the first one in England for 349 years, instead of Albert Edward, as his mother had planned – and the first since the union of crowns in 1603 to introduce the problem of how to number monarchs. Edward was properly Edward I of Scotland… which may explain why the statue erected to him in Victoria Park keeps being vandalised.

King Edward and Queen Alexandra made their Royal Visit to Edinburgh in 1903.

This photo is available on Redbubble: Edward VII.

30 October 2008

Mandela Square that never was

the statue of mother and child

In 1986, the UN Security Council recommended to the member states of the United Nations that they “prohibit the export to South Africa of items which they have reason to believe are destined for the military and/or police forces of South Africa”.

Back then, Nelson Mandela was in jail – he had then been in prison for 23 years. Edinburgh City Council was planning a new square in Lothian Road, and a faction on the Council had resolved to call it Mandela Square, in his honour. (They lost the vote – the new square, which faces the Usher Hall, was named Festival Square, after Edinburgh’s International Festival – which was then to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, 1947-1987.)

Ann Davidson won the competition run by the Council, and her statue “Woman and Child” was made to represent and to honour all those killed or imprisoned for their stand against apartheid. The woman and her child stand in front of a sketch in bronze of a shanty. The statue was unveiled on 22nd July 1986 by Suganya Chetty, a member of the African National Congress then living in exile in Edinburgh.

For those who don’t remember, Mandela was released on 11th February 1990, nearly 27 years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 12th June 1964, and on 26th April 1994, the first free elections were held in South Africa: Nelson Mandela became President of the country that had imprisoned him for fighting against apartheid. It still feels like current events to me – but I suppose to many people reading this blog, it’s… history.

The message at the base of the statue, “Victory is Certain”, came true.

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13 October 2008

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket

Filed under: buildings, history, photos, plants — Tags: , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket

Looking up at the castle from the Grassmarket, at the height of the rock, it looms, though the rock is not as visible as it is when the castle is viewed from other angles.

This photo is available on Redbubble: Edinburgh Castle.

11 October 2008

All Essential Services: Bagpipe Makers

Filed under: buildings, history, people, photos — Tags: , , — EdinburghEye @ 10:23 am

Sinclair Bagpipe makers 1 Madeira Street

I had probably passed by this door and window a thousand times before it occurred to me to take the snapshot and looked up the history of it. William Sinclair & Son have been professional bagpipe makers since 1933. William Sinclair Senior’s father Alexander Sinclair made the first set of pipes on a foot-treadle lathe with the pedal power provided by his son: by trade William Sinclair Senior was a stone-hewer and his son William was a joiner, but there was a long family tradition connected with the pipes – Alexander Sinclair taught his sons with his other students of the pipes, and William Sinclair Senior was Pipe Major of the Leith Celtic Pipe Band, the Broxburn Pipe Band and the 5th Volunteer Edinburgh Rifles. He was also Pipe Major of the Boys Brigade in Edinburgh. (The old Boys Brigade headquarters is just up Ferry Road from 1 Madeira Street.) During a stone-hewer’s strike William Senior made reeds for the pipes to bring in money: in the 1926 General Strike, William Junior left the building trade to become a professional Bagpipe Maker, and in 1933, the firm of William Sinclair and Son set up shop. And they’re still trading today.

This photo is available on Redbubble: All Essential Services.

7 October 2008

Persevere: the seal of the town of Leith

Filed under: history, photos — Tags: , , , , , , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

A boat in port of Leith and an old lamp-post with the Leith Port shield

Leith became a Parliamentary Burgh in 1833 (that is, a burgh upon which an elected town council was imposed by Parliament in their reforms of 1832-33), uniting the parishes North Leith and South Leith (separated by the Water of Leith). The name Leith was once Leyt, Let, or Inverlet. King David (1083 – 1153) gave the water, fishings and meadows to Holyrood Abbey by charter, and then “and that Inverlet which is nearest the harbour, and with the half of the fishing, and with a whole tithe of all of the fishing that belongs to the church of St. Cuthbert“.

Leith ceased to be an independent town in 1927, but here and there around Leith (such as the lamp-posts that line the lower river) you can see the Seal of the Burgh “A shield bearing a galley on the sea. At each end of the galley is a mast with furled sail and flag flying. In the centre is the Virgin seated, bearing the Holy Child in her arms, and a cloud rests above their heads. Above, on a scroll, are the words Sigillum oppidi de Leith, and beneath, on a scroll, the motto Persevere“. Despite a discouraging discussion on blipfoto, a bit of google-fu and a scrap of Latin established that, well, it just means “the seal of the town of Leith”. A bit dull, but not at all mysterious.

Burghs were essentially urban settlements which enjoyed trading privileges from medieval times until 1832 and which regulated their own affairs to a greater or lesser extent (depending on the type of burgh) until the abolition of Scottish burghs in 1975. Burgh status has implications for historical records. Separate valuation rolls and electoral rolls were compiled by royal and police burghs until 1975. Burgh Records: Burghs produced characteristic forms of historical record, such as court books, guild records, registers of deeds, financial accounts, and, latterly, records of burgh institutions such as schools and libraries. VisionofBritain

This photo is available on Redbubble: Persevere: Leith is still a port.

4 October 2008

Walking into the light

Filed under: history, people, photos, roads, shadows and light, vehicles — Tags: , , , , , — EdinburghEye @ 8:00 am

People walking down the Mound into the sunset

“Where Princes Street Gardens are now, the Nor’ Loch was ‘a receptacle of many sewers, and seemingly of the worried cats, drowned dogs, and blackguardism of the city’. Initially stones and planks were laid across its swampland by a tailor with a shop in the Old Town and clients in the New. This gave rise to the name Geordie Boyd’s Mud Brig. In time the ‘Brig’ was filled in by rubble from the excavation works – some two million cartloads tipped out by contractors and private citizens – finally forming a great earthen mound, known now simply as The Mound.” – Stories in Stone

This photo is available on Redbubble: Sunset on the Mound.

30 September 2008

Doors Open Day: St Ninian’s Manse

I took a photo of this building in July (Quayside Street Clocktower), but it wasn’t until Doors Open Day that I found it is St Ninian’s Manse, Quayside Mills, Leith.

The Edinburgh Doors Open Day is organised by The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh’s Civic Trust), in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage.

St Ninian's Manse on Quayside Street
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28 September 2008

Bank of Scotland on Bank Street

Bank of Scotland seen from the side on the Mound, looking towards Calton Hill

The Bank of Scotland was founded on 17th July 1695, when the Parliament of Scotland (which 12 years later was to vote itself out of existence for 292 years) passed an Act of Parliament establishing a national bank to support commerce and facilitate trade – the Bank of Scotland was the oldest commercial bank in Europe still trading. (The Bank of Scotland was forbidden to lend money to the government without Parliamentary approval.) In 1806 the Bank of Scotland moved their headquarters to this building at the top of the Mound, just below the High Street. The street was named Bank Street after the bank. Despite Pat Robertson and the Halifax they were still there a fortnight ago: a couple of years ago they even added a museum. But three centuries of banking history undone, and Lloyds TSB may have done what even an invading army couldn’t.

If you found this page of my blog because you have a complaint to make about the Bank of Scotland, you’re in entirely the wrong place, go here.

This photo is available on Redbubble: Bank of Scotland on Bank Street.

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