Kate Bowell

Apr 032019
 

Site of hospital today

Meadowside House, 7 Lauriston Lane, Edinburgh EH3 9EN

On 15th February 1860, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children opened its doors at 7 Lauriston Lane with 20 beds and a dispensary. Three years later, in 1863, it was given royal patronage by Queen Victoria and moved to Meadowside House which increased its capacity to 40 beds. The opening of the hospital meant that Edinburgh at last fell in line with other cities worldwide who had opened hospitals dedicated to children.  Given Scotland’s alarmingly high child mortality rates – in the late 1850s, almost half of Scottish children died before their sixth birthday – such as hospital was sorely needed. One of the original team of four doctors at the hospital was Dr Henry Littlejohn. Like Professor Alison, Dr Littlejohn would go on to become an important figure in public health in Edinburgh. He was appointed Edinburgh’s first Medical Officer of Health, the first role of its kind in Scotland, and the conclusions of his ‘Report on The Sanitary Conditions of the City of Edinburgh’ that he published in 1865 were key to providing the motivation for the founding of the Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor.

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 1890

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, Our Town Stories Collection

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Apr 032019
 

75 Grassmarket today

75 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2JR

In the 1870s, Castle Trades Hotel opened here as a lodging house with room for 327 men in the 100 tiny wooden cubicles on each of its three floors. Each cubicle, 28-square feet in area, contained nothing more than a single bed and a nail on the door where the men could hang their belongings. Due to concern at the quality of the accommodation and its deplorable physical conditions, the Castle Trades Hotel was eventually closed in June 1981, more than one hundred years later. After extensive refurbishment, it was reopened as Bowfoot House in February 1983. Replacing the cubicles with more spacious rooms and better bathroom facilities, Bowfoot House was able to provide a wide range of accommodation from self-contained flatlets to cluster flats and a centrally based hostel for just over 100 people. When it opened, the Edinburgh Council of Social Service described it as ‘one of the most exciting developments in accommodation for single homeless people, arguably anywhere in the UK.’ Bowfoot House was in operation until 2006 when it was turned into 17 flats of two, three or four apartments made available for social rent through the Hillcrest Housing Association.

75 Grassmarket today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle Trades Hotel, date unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Dave Henniker

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Apr 032019
 

1 King’s Stables Road today

1 King’s Stables Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2JA

Starting in 1869, a building at 14 Leith Walk served as a firelighter factory where unemployed men could prove their willingness to work and earn wages to tide them and their families over. The work was hard-going, manually intense, and grimy, and it was thought that if a man could show his willingness to work there, he would work anywhere. Within a year of operation, more than 600 otherwise destitute men had been employed at the factory. In 1873, the Association took over factory management and when their headquarters moved to 1 King Stable’s Road in 1891, the factory moved here with it. A large waste paper store, another employment opportunity for men and women, was also on the premises. The Association learned, to their cost, the danger of keeping a waste paper store and firewood factory in close proximity to one another when a fire broke out in February 1896, damaging the building quite extensively and resulting in the sale of the premises and a move to North Fredrick Street.

The Grassmarket looking towards King’s Stables Road, 1865

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

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Apr 032019
 

13 Randolph Crescent today

13 Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7TT

Flora Clift Stevenson, noted philanthropist and social and government reformer, lived here at 13 Randolph Crescent. In 1868, Flora joined the Edinburgh Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor shortly after it first began and oversaw the Sewing Room, which provided paid work for women in the winter months, Flora also volunteered as a health visitor for the Association, visiting the needy to assess their claims and distributing provisions tickets. In 1873, Flora was elected as a member to the first Edinburgh School Board and played a large part in a wide range of educational debates in the city, eventually being unanimously elected chair of the Board in 1900. Throughout all those years, she fought hard to improve the educational provision in public schools, and particularly for children from deprived backgrounds. In 1899, the board’s new school in Comely Bank was named as the Flora Stevenson School in her honour and the name remains today. Upon her death, in 1905, between two and three thousand public school children lined the route of her funeral.

13 Randolph Crescent today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting of Flora Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plaque on wall at 13 Randolph Crescent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Lucy Ridley, Wikipedia

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Apr 032019
 

Ainslie House today

Ainslie House, 11 St Colme Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6AA

The first branch of the Edinburgh and Old People’s Welfare Council, overseen by the Edinburgh Council of Social Service, opened on this site in the autumn of 1941. In working for the welfare of elderly people, the council arranged friendly visits, especially to those who were alone or had few friends or interests. The Sydney Smith quote, “Life is fortified by many friendships,” was chosen as their motto. One of the council’s initiatives was to hold an annual “old people’s week,” with events such as film nights, coffee parties, and classes in handicrafts, singing, dressmaking, miming, drawing, and painting. As well as providing educational activities and social clubs, the Council also set up day centres and residential homes. Today, LifeCare Edinburgh, a descendant of the Old People’s Welfare Council, continues its mission to improve the welfare of older people, with three centres providing care services as well as the Stockbridge House community centre, which welcomes more than 70,000 people each year. The idea of friendly visiting is continued in their ‘Vintage Vibes’ charitable project which matches volunteers with over-60s to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.

Ainslie House today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ainslie House today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ainslie House staff, date unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Lucy Ridley, EVOC

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Apr 032019
 

54 Queen Street today

54 Queen Street. Edinburgh, EH2 3NS

This is the original site of the first Citizens Advice Bureau, opened in Edinburgh on 13th November 1939, alongside another branch on 18 Charlotte Lane. The impending threat of World War II lead to the British government opening bureaux across the United Kingdom, as a resource to help the public deal with such issues as tracing soldiers lost in battle or taken as prisoners of war. They also helped with domestic needs, such as gas masks for babies, ration cards, evacuation, pensions, and questions about marriage laws. The Edinburgh branches were operated by the city’s Council of Social Service until 1972, when all the bureaux became independent. Although the Citizen Advice Bureaux were first intended as a short-term measure, it became clear after the war that there were many more issues the public needed government support from, including rehousing, employment, training, education, and the introduction of welfare benefits. As of 2018, there are five Citizen Advice Bureaux and 23 outreach points in Edinburgh.

Citizens Advice Bureau logo today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens Advice Bureau waiting room, 1979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley, Citizens Advice Edinburgh

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Apr 032019
 

9 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ

Royal College of Physicians today

Professor William Pulteney Alison was President of the Royal College of Physicians from 1836-38 and a key figure in early debates about Edinburgh’s poor relief provision. Working as a physician in the New Town Dispensary and at the Royal Infirmary, he came into frequent contact with the poorest of the city’s population. Alison became known for his view that disease was linked to poverty and advocated that poor relief be extended to include the healthy impoverished. At the time, this suggestion was radical, as the able-bodied destitute were often viewed as indolent, sinful, and undeserving of assistance. Unlike in England, where poor relief was written into legislation, in Scotland voluntary charity was supposed to provide for the poor. In advocating for government intervention to alleviate poverty to combat disease, Alison was ahead of his time, but he lived to see public opinion move closer to his views.

Royal College of Physicians today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical sketch of Royal College of Physicians, 1891

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait painting of William Pulteney Alison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Wikipedia, and the Wellcome Collection

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Apr 032019
 

5 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EB

5 York Place today

On 30th March 1868, the Edinburgh Association for  Improving the Condition of the Poor (now EVOC) began at 5 York Place. In their first annual report, the Association estimated that there were around 20,000 families in Edinburgh who needed support. In order to reach all these families and assess their needs, the Association relied on volunteers – 1,247 in the first year who visited upwards of 18,000 households. As well as trying to alleviate material poverty, the Association also sought to make sure that all children attended school, helped making living conditions more hygienic, and worked to prevent temporary destitution from becoming permanent pauperism by encouraging independence and self-support. Their motto was, “Help for those who will help themselves.”

First annual report

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova and EVOC

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Jan 152019
 
This Powderhall Bronze sculpture is entitled ‘Going to the Beach’ by Vincent Butler (1933-2017).

This Powderhall Bronze sculpture is entitled ‘Going to the Beach’ by Vincent Butler (1933-2017).

Waterfront Avenue, Edinburgh EH5 1RS

Near this site, lots of industrial activity took place. AB Fleming introduced rosin oil in 1852, a by-product of refining turpentine from dead pine wood. Due to expansion, Fleming leased a large area of land from the Duke of Buccleuch and built a new factory. ‘Granton Oils’ became popular all over the world. Later on, the company manufactured inks for books, newspapers, fine half tone work, letterpress and lithography, and had the largest capacity anywhere in the world, operating globally. Next to AB Fleming was Caroline Park Foundry, started in 1880 by Robert Mushet, who was instrumental in perfecting a forerunner of today’s steels. The Granton Ice Company (1906) was also nearby and supplied the fishing industries of Granton and Newhaven, with premises originally located on the Middle Pier of Granton Harbour. A new factory was built near the site of Granton Castle. By 1952 it was the most modern factory of its kind in Britain. Water to make the ice came from Granton Burn’s, stored in a pond behind Caroline Park, and piped down in lead pipes which still run beneath Granton Castle’s walled garden.

A.B. Fleming & Co Scottish Printing Ink Factory

Advert for A.B. Fleming & Co Scottish Printing Ink Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Granton Ice Co.

Advert for The Granton Ice Co.

 

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Jan 152019
 
The wall, please walk along this stretch and view Social Bite village and Granton Gasworks

The wall, please walk along this stretch and view Social Bite village and Granton Gasworks

Path, Caroline Park Avenue, Edinburgh EH5 1QJ

With the building of Granton Harbour in the mid 1800s, the Duke of Buccleuch saw great financial opportunity with land either being leased or sold off for commercial and industrial development in the area. As a result, the Castle became neglected and by the mid 18th century it was already described as being in a ruinous state. Following the First World War, the Castle was bought in 1928 by a quarrying company Bain and Brown who demolished it to quarry the stone underneath it, but left sections of the wall in place. The Walled Garden survived and was bought by John Smith, market gardener and the business stayed in the family until 2005 when it was sold to the City of Edinburgh Council. Friends of Granton Castle Walled Garden are now working to ensure that this beautiful community asset is safeguarded for the future.

Granton Castle Wall Garden Illustration

The castle already lying in ruins in the 19th century

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new Social Bite village in the shadows of the Gas Works

The new Social Bite village in the shadows of the Gas Works. Photo from the John Dickson collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail of Granton Castle Walled Garden

Detail of Granton Castle Walled Garden. Photo from the Gina Fierlafijn Reddie collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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