Apr 032019
 

10 Hunter Square today

10 Hunter Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1QW

The Edinburgh Society for the Suppression of Begging was founded in 1813 with the desire to eliminate street begging in the capital. Due to its substantial wealthy population and the irregular and seasonal work provided by parts of its economy, Edinburgh tended to attract a large destitute population, many of whom often turned to begging. The Society received a total of £2000 in donations in its first year. Applicants were required to send begging letters to the offices here in 10 Hunter Square, which were manned by a rota of directors. They were then visited by volunteers to assess whether they were eligible for relief before being offered food from the society’s soup kitchen. School fees were also paid for beggars’ children and there was a work committee which endeavoured to assign work to applicants. The Edinburgh Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor would carry out similar work after its founding in 1868 but on a more systematic basis and with a much wider reach.

10 Hunter Square today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Lucy Ridley

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Apr 032019
 

Royal College of Surgeons today

Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW

Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn was an expert in both forensic medicine and public health. He became President of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1875 and was appointed as Edinburgh’s first Medical Officer of Health in 1862. At the time he was also a police surgeon, medical adviser to the Board of Supervision, extramural lecturer, and crown medical examiner. Littlejohn gave forensic evidence at many famous murder trials, some of which are thought to have provided inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his writing of the Sherlock Holmes series. One of Littlejohn’s first acts as Medical Officer of Health was to publish his Report on the Sanitary Condition on the City of Edinburgh in 1865 which aimed ‘to test for the first time by reference to the mortality, the sanitary conditions of the portions of the city inhabited by the richer and the poorer.’ The conclusions of the Report highlighted the connection between poverty, overcrowding and sanitary conditions in Edinburgh in a way that meant these connections could no longer be ignored by the elite and wealthy. Littlejohn’s Report was thought to be so significant that for the next 12 days the Evening Courant and Caledonian Mercury newspapers published all 120 pages of the report in its entirety.

Painting of Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Wikipedia

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Jan 152019
 
The entrance to the shore path

The entrance to the shore path

Walking Path, West Shore Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QG

On October 16th, 1939, the skies over Granton’s shoreline were filled with enemy bombers. In the first major raid against Britain of WWII, the German Luftwaffe sent twelve Junkers Ju88A-1s to intercept Royal Navy Battleship HMS Hood. Approaching from the west, the bomber crews saw they were too late – a battleship already safely docked in Rosyth Dockyard. Seeking alternative targets, the Junkers dived to attack shipping in the river below. With total surprise they dropped their bombs unopposed, narrowly missing HMS Edinburgh and HMS Southampton. Wave after wave of bombing harried the desperately zig-zagging ships. Then a shock… Spitfires! The raiders had been briefed there were no Spitfires in Scotland. Now two squadrons of them swarmed in defence. The bombers broke and fled for their lives, chased back down the river or across Edinburgh at rooftop height. Citizens dived for cover as machine guns rattled and bullet casings cascaded onto the streets. Two bombers were shot down into the Forth, their surviving crew rescued by local fishing boats. The 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron had claimed the first ever Spitfire victory. Edinburgh’s skies were safe, but disaster had only narrowly been averted.

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Jan 152019
 
The off-loading of the esparto grass was located not far from here, and known as Esparto Warf, on the very north side of the Western Pier

The off-loading of the esparto grass was located not far from here, and known as Esparto Warf, on the very north side of the Western Pier

Chestnut Street, Edinburgh EH5 1FX

A major industry in the Edinburgh area was printing and publishing, and this required paper. One of the raw components used to make it, esparto grass, had to be transported to the UK. Starting in the 1870s, esparto grass was being imported and by the 1950s, about a third of all the esparto grass that came into the country arrived at Granton – 100,000 tons of it. Coming from as far away as southern Spain and northern Africa, the arrival of esparto grass shipments were exciting times for the local children who adored the off-loading of the shipments, as the occasional tortoise hidden in the grass would quickly become a favourite pet.

Unloading esparto grass at Granton's Western Pier

Unloading esparto grass at Granton’s Western Pier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esparto grass train at Granton

Esparto grass train at Granton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granton Square with a lorry loaded with esparto grass leaving the Square, 11 April, 1955

Granton Square with a lorry loaded with esparto grass leaving the Square, 11 April, 1955

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