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Culture Heritage Learning

WW1 South African Native Labour Corps

7th November 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

Original caption reads ‘At the window of one of their huts’

Amongst the many thousands of photographs from the National Library of Scotland to be found on Scran, there is a collection called Images of War. These were taken by official War Office photographers during World War One and form part of the Haig Papers. This astounding and often arresting war photography contains a small set of 21 images, which tells the story of the South African Native Labour Corps, referred to as the SANLC.

Some 20,000 South Africans worked in the SANLC and took part in World War One, however due to South Africa’s segregationist policy, black South Africans were restricted to non-combatant roles. The SANLC were discriminated against because of the racist attitudes of the period which meant that black South Africans were not enlisted as combat troops, but only in the Labour Corps. They laboured in the docks, in salvage, supply, burial and other non-military jobs. They were used as cheap manual labour but were denied the right to serve in the army or to be given any recognition of the role they played. In part this was due to the South African government’s fear of the native claims for land.

Labourers display shell damaged radiator to the camera

When the SANLC were recruited, the units tended to be organised on the basis of their homeland tribe or region. In part this was to avoid problems from traditional tribal feuds, but it also reflects the fear of the South African government that the different native groups would combine against the existing white rule.

Although the SANLC were not meant to be deployed in combat zones, there were inevitable deaths when the docks or transport lines on which they worked were bombed. The greatest tragedy was the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, when 617 members of the SANLC were drowned in the English Channel. The SANLC had operated in the fight against the Germans in South West Africa since September 1916, but the Labour Corps for the Western Front was established and camps set up in 1917.

Original caption reads ‘Smiling and Warm’

The various Labour Corps included many non-European groups such as the South Africans (SANLC), Egyptians, Chinese, Cape Coloured and Indian Corps. They were not only restricted from contact with white Europeans but were also segregated into different racially-determined Corps. Unlike some of the other labour contingents, the SANLC were not awarded any medals after the war.

World War One saw the development of a system of ‘official’ reporting by professionals especially recruited into the forces. Several of the SANLC series of photographs have been attributed to photographers John Warwick Brooke and Ernest Brooks.

SANLC dancers performing a traditional war dance

Initially reluctant to allow cameras near the fighting, it took some time for authorities to appreciate the propaganda and recording potential of photography. The cheerful appearance of the SANLC men is possibly deliberate propaganda on the part of the photographer, to counterbalance the reports of strikes and unrest among the various nationalities of Labour Corps, when they felt their conditions were unreasonable, or their original contracts had been broken. These photographs provide us with an invaluable record of how the Government and Military wanted the war perceived. 

Images © National Library of Scotland Licensor Scran

 

 

Forthview of the Great War

20th June 2017 by Scran | 2 Comments

Recently we gathered at Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh with Miss Watson’s P7 class, their friends & families for the premiere of the animation Forthview of the Great War.  As the credits rolled we were able to reflect on the project which had brought us to this point, a project which brought together Forthview Primary School, Edinburgh Castle’s Learning Officer & the Scran Education Team.

Film Premiere at Forthview PS

Beginning in January 2017, this project took the form of a journey through the First World War, exploring the experiences of those involved in the war, from propaganda and recruitment to remembrance.  During the First World War many new recruits passed through Edinburgh Castle’s gates, experienced their first taste of military life during initial training and stood on the Castle Esplanade ready to begin their journey to the Front; sadly many never returned. The project followed the journey of these soldiers and others caught up in the First World War, reflecting on their experience.

Military Hospital, Edinburgh Castle 1914

With Scran, Historic Environment Scotland’s Learning Team provided a range of interactive and cross-curricular workshops at school and at Edinburgh Castle. Pupils learned about propaganda and the methods used to encourage people to sign up or do their bit for the war and created their own propaganda posters with artist Hannah Ayre. They followed in the footsteps of the men who came to Edinburgh Castle to sign up and experienced a taste of what initial training would have been like in an immersive workshop run by Artemis Scotland. In this workshop they also took on the role of VAD nurses, learning how to put an arm in a sling and the tiresome task of rolling bandages!  They learned about the realities of trench warfare through object handling at the National War Museum and reflected on those who had lost their lives during the war; visiting the Scottish National War Memorial and exploring real objects from WWI as inspiration to write their own remembrance poetry with poet Ken Cockburn and arts educator Lorna Irvine.

Using the Scottish National War Memorial to tell the story

As a culmination of the pupils’ learning journeys and to bring together and reflect on what they had learned from the workshops at Edinburgh Castle and at school, HES commissioned animator, Henry Cruickshank, to work with the pupils to create their animation. It was this animation that we gathered together to view for the first time on the 8th June.

Led by Henry Cruickshank, the pupils created their own characters and story. Suitable Scran imagery was carefully selected to support the pupils’ creative writing ideas and then integrated into the storytelling. The archive imagery was used as the backdrop for their characters and pupils decided which to use scene by scene. Using stop-go animation they then brought their characters to life! Heleen Schoolmeesters, an intern working with the HES learning team, also documented the whole process in the following film.

The final animation follows one character on his journey, from recruitment to training, to his experience on the battlefield. Powerful lines from the pupils’ own poetry and carefully selected words provide the soundtrack and the final scene reminds us of the families left behind and the importance of continuing to remember and reflect on those who gave their lives during the Great War.

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It is hoped this summary of our partnership project will inspire other groups to engage with their local heritage and learn about the experiences of people during World War One. If you are interested in developing such creative learning opportunities, please contact us – either the Scran Education Team or Historic Environment Scotland‘s Learning Team.

 

© Imagery used in the animation comes from the following archives & collections – British Red Cross, Bruce/Leslie Collection, Glasgow City Council, Herald Scotland,  Historic Environment Scotland,  Lothian Health Services Archive, National Library of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, St Andrews University Library – Licensor  www.scran.ac.uk.

Learning about the Scottish National War Memorial

5th March 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

SNWM Crown Square

Just now we’re busy working with Forthview Primary School & our Historic Environment Scotland colleagues at Edinburgh Castle. Together we are exploring the topic of World War One  with Primary 7. During our investigations we’ll be looking closely at the Scottish National War Memorial.

 

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1927 SNWM Postcard

The Scottish National War Memorial was created to honour the dead of the Great War, and is found in Crown Square within Edinburgh Castle. In 1917 before the War had even ended, the idea for the memorial was suggested by John George Stewart Murray – the 8th Duke of Atholl.

His idea caused a lot discussion and debate, not everyone agreed with his vision. Some people were worried it would focus too much on the military, rather than all Scots involved in the War effort. Also, after the site at Edinburgh Castle had been chosen, others were concerned it would look out of place – because of these challenges, early plans for the memorial were changed.

 

Robert Lorimer

Between 1924-7, the building was designed by the architect Robert Lorimer. He suggested an existing building could be changed and altered to form a remembrance hall. Previously the building had been used as a barracks to house soldiers. The architect worked with over 200 Scottish artists to transform the barracks into the remembrance hall & create a shrine.

 

SNWM Fundraising 1920

The memorial was estimated to cost £250,000. Therefore a lot of money that had to be raised, events like Thistle Day took place and fundraising started – for example commemorative postage stamps were issued. The public donated large sums of money in support. In August 1922 the money needed was finally raised, so construction could begin.

 

SNWM Shrine reconstruction 1924

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Architectural Drawings

Inside the building, the long hall has short wings and a central entrance gives the plan the form of the letter E.

The central shrine holds a large casket, which contains the Rolls of Honour. These are lists of over 150,000 names of those who lost their lives.

Space didn’t allow the names of the dead to be carved in stone, so they were inscribed in books of remembrance. Today visitors can still view these books, listing the names of all Scottish casualties of World War One, World War Two & all conflicts since.

 

It took ten years of determined work, however the Scottish National War Memorial was officially opened by The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, on 14th July 1927.

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Images © St.Andrews University Library, Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, National Library of Scotland – Moving Image Archive Licensor Scran 

Possible discussion questions:

  • Why do you think the Duke of Atholl felt it was important for Scotland to have a National Memorial?
  • What impression do you get from the Memorial?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Why is it important that we remember?

Stained Glass at the Scottish National War Memorial

5th March 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

Following on from the story of the creation of the Scottish National War Memorial in our previous post, Forthview Primary School P7s are going to be examining it’s interior when they visit.

The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle houses a rich variety of artwork to honour & remember those who died in World War One.  When it was built, between 1923 & 1927, over 200 professional artists worked with the architect, Robert Lorimer, to create a suitable tribute.

Air Force window design 1924 by Douglas Strachan

The interior of the memorial expresses the tragic sense of loss felt by Scotland after WW1. Inside the building, there is a feeling of dignity, pride and a sense of peace. The artists and makers used different materials, including bronze, iron, wood, stone, paint as well as stained glassThe result is impressive.

The artworks are designed to pay respect to the individual Scots who died, both men and women in all their different roles. Animals are acknowledged too, in the much loved stone sculpture ‘Remember also those Humble Beasts‘ by Phyllis Bone.

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Certainly the most colourful element of the SNWM is the is the stained glass with light flooding in from outside. In the main Hall of Honour the windows provide a lot of information, if you look carefully. For example, there is imagery illustrating what life was like on the Home Front, such as the mobilising of troops at Waverley Station (pictured top).

At either end of the hall, there are windows dedicated to different military services; that is the army, the navy and the air force – land, sea & air. Other windows show the four seasons. Some of the windows have roundels illustrating the different jobs people did or technology used in the machinery of war.

The windows in the Shrine are different to those in the Hall of Honour. These seven windows tell a another story, they use Bible and Christian messages to describe the experience of the War. Therefore they look more familiar to many, perhaps like traditional church windows at first glance.

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The artist who made all of these stunning windows was Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Strachan was born in Aberdeen and educated at Robert Gordon’s College. He took evening classes at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. He worked as an apprentice lithographer, a muralist, a portrait painter and then found a passion for working with stained glass. In 1909 he moved to Edinburgh to set up the crafts department of Edinburgh College of Art. He lived in Midlothian where he died in 1950. He worked on many other memorial windows, including a designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague installed in 1929.

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* To see more of the SNWM stained glass windows on Scran click here

Images © Canmore Historic Environment Scotland Licensor Scran 

 

Chrystal Macmillan- suffragist, feminist, peace activist, barrister

27th February 2017 by Scran | 0 comments

Chrystal Macmillan, barristerScran has recently been a part of the Audacious Women’s Festival and, as a result of some fortuitous meetings, we were delighted to learn about Chrystal Macmillan. We were aware that there is a Chrystal Macmillan Building at Edinburgh University, but were blissfully ignorant of her achievements; there was certainly very little mention of her on Scran before this February. Luckily, we crossed paths with Helen Kay who thought we might be interested in some digitised archive materials that were in the care of the Macmillan family. To cut a long story short, we were very interested, and these materials are now on Scran. Many thanks to Helen for bringing these images to our attention, and to John Herdman and Iain Macmillan for kindly allowing us to share them with our users.

Chrystal Macmillan was a a suffragist, a feminist, a peace activist and barrister. She was educated at St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh, where she was the first woman to graduate from the science faculty in 1896 with a first class honours degree in mathematics and natural philosophy. She became active in feminist causes, joining the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and later becoming an executive committee member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

In 1908 presented her case to the House of Lords that female university graduates should be given the right to vote, later becoming secretary of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. With the outbreak of World War I she turned her attention to peace activism, and following the Armistice she was an envoy from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to the Paris Peace Conference, which was held in 1919. She went on to become a barrister in 1924.

You can read more of her story, see her family portraits and school life at scran.ac.uk/s/chrystal+macmillan.

Image © John HerdmanLicensor Scran 

 

Remembrance

8th November 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

105500077My Grandfather Dreams Twice of Flanders, is a poem based on an experience Ron Butlin had when he was around six years old. That was when he first noticed people wearing poppies, and he asked his mother why. She explained about war, and about death, neither of which made much sense.

Then she told him about his grandfather who had ironically died on the day peace was declared, after lying in hospitals for years with injuries sustained earlier in the war. As a child he had nightmares, and the poem is a sort of exorcism.

Ron Butlin was born in Edinburgh in 1949, but grew up in the countryside in the village of Hightae near Dumfries. He has been a computer operator, security guard, footman and model, as well as Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. He writes in English and Scots.02492954

 

 

Images: © Poppy Scotland (Eamonn McGoldrick), National Library of Scotland (Moving Image Archive)  & Newsquest (Herald & Times).

Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

The Battle of the Somme

29th June 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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‘The Eve of the Battle of the Somme’ by Sir H.J.Gunn

The Battle of the Somme was a joint operation between French and British forces during World War One. It took place between July and November 1916 on either side of the River Somme, France. The plan was to bombard the German trenches for eight days before launching the offensive, thereby destroying German artillery and making it easy for allied troops to break through enemy lines. Unfortunately, the German trenches had concrete bunkers to shelter troops. This meant that when the advance began on 1st July, German artillery was able to slaughter the advancing troops. The first day of the Battle saw the worst casualties in the history of the British Army. Nearly 60,000 men were wounded and 20,000 men died.

 

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Royal Engineers clearing the way on the Somme

When the Great War started, the Allied army was still using tactics based on massed lines of soldiers and cavalry attacks, much like the tactics used at Culloden in 1746. Original plans for the Battle of the Somme included a final cavalry charge. This was cancelled after the slaughter of thousands of troops by the newly developed machine gun. Trenches were dug for the first time in this war and offered a degree of protection for soldiers . However, once a trench was breached, the defending soldiers would find themselves trapped in narrow gullies having to fight hand to hand using bayonets and rifles. Tanks were also used at Somme.

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Trench Map of the Beaumont-Hamel

 

The battle for Mametz Wood took place early on in the Somme offensive.
The 38th Welsh Division took heavy casualties as they advanced uphill towards German positions. They were successful in capturing the wood. The Battle of Ancre was the last stage of the Somme offensive and saw the destruction of the last German outposts near the allied trenches.

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Allied troops clearing German trenches

By the end of the offensive in the winter of 1916, the German and Allied armies suffered over one million casualties and neither side made any major gains.

Images © National Museums Scotland, Cloe Gunn via Bridgeman Art Library / Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, National Library of Scotland,  Licensor Scran

The Battle of Jutland

24th May 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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Cartoon ‘Jutland – A Narrow Shave’

2016 is the centenary of the Battle of Jutland also called Battle of the Skagerrak. It was the only major confrontation between the British Navy and German High Seas Fleet during World War One.

In May 1916, the German High Seas Fleet under the command of the Vice Admiral Reinhard von Scheer, took to the seas intent on attacking allied shipping off the Norwegian coast. The German fleet comprised of 16 dreadnoughts, 6 pre-dreadnoughts, 5 battle cruisers, 11 light cruisers and 61 torpedo boats.

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HMS Shannon

 

 

The British Navy in the North Sea was based in Rosyth, Cromarty and Scapa Flow. Here it could protect the central and northern areas of the North Sea and stop the German High Seas Fleet from getting into the Atlantic where it could cause huge problems for Britain’s merchant fleet.

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British Admiral Sir John Jellicoe

Admiral Scheer planned to avoid the bulk of the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. However, British Naval intelligence had broken the German naval code and was aware of Scheer’s plan. In response the British Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe in Rosyth, left port to search for the enemy.

 

 

 

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North Sea Movements The British Grand Fleet 1914-18

 

 

On the 31st May at around 4pm British Fast Cruisers came into contact with the enemy off the coast of Denmark. The British came under heavy fire, losing three ships before the eventual arrival of the Admiral Jellicoe’s main fleet. On Jellicoe’s arrival Scheer ordered his ships to withdraw. Fearing he was being led into a trap, Jellicoe ordered his fleet not to pursue. The British instead headed Southeast with the intention of cutting off the enemy as it turned to return to port. Scheer anticipated the British plan and under the cover of darkness broke through the rear of the Grand Fleet and successfully returned to port.

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Both sides declared the encounter a victory. The German Navy inflicted significantly more damage on the Royal Navy, sinking 14 ships with casualties numbering 6,094. In comparison the German Navy lost 11 smaller ships with 2,551 causalities. The German fleet had failed to deal a decisive blow to the British. Admiral Jellicoe was heavily criticised for failing to capitalise on the German retreat. He was able to claim the strategic victory. The German Navy was no longer a threat, and remained in port for the duration of War.

 

Images © National Library of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive, Falkirk Museums, Orkney Islands Council Licensor Scran

IWD – International Women’s Day

8th March 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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Glasgow munitions workers WW1 © Glasgow Caledonian University Library

International Women’s Day (IWD) emerged at the turn of the twentieth century in Europe and North America. It originated in labour movements and was initially linked to the causes of women workers and suffragists. Since 1913 it has been celebrated annually in various countries on the 8th of March. It has become a day for raising worldwide awareness of the need for women’s equality in the workplace, in education, politics and in the social sphere.

History of IWD

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Munitionettes pose with a cairn terrier 1917 © Falkirk Museums

What is now referred to as International Women’s Day started off as the National Women’s Day in 1908 in the US. 15,000 female garment workers marched through New York on strike, demanding better working conditions and the right to vote. In the following year, the US Socialist Party established the women’s day as an annual national celebration.

At the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, over 100 women from 17 countries attended. They agreed to establish Women’s Day as an occasion for speaking out against social, political and economic discrimination towards women.

World War One 

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VAD Voluntary Aid Detachment, France, WW1 © National Library of Scotland

In Russia, IWD has been held on every last Sunday in February since 1913. On IWD, in the war-ridden year of 1917, Russian women started a mass-demonstration for ‘Bread and Peace’. After four days the Czar abdicated and Russian women were given the right to vote. In the Gregorian calendar this Sunday fell on the 8th of March. It has been the date for the IWD in the rest of Europe ever since, although initially it was mainly celebrated in communist countries. Even though conditions were harsh and most female employees were paid less than their male counterparts, World War I provided an employment opportunity for women on a large societal scale. Most men were away fighting in the war so industries were reliant on the female workforce. Since women needed to make ends meet in the absence of their men, they worked, developed vocational skills and learned to handle financial matters independently.

Education

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Girls’ Science Class, Portobello High, Edinburgh, 1914 © The City of Edinburgh Council

Even though women from privileged backgrounds had limited access to university education in Britain from the 1870s onwards, it was several decades until it became more common for women to attend universities and also to be taught science subjects at school. The University of Edinburgh was the first university nationwide to admit women to study medicine (12 November 1862). Yet female students were initially not allowed to graduate and faced much opposition and discriminating regulations. This meant women could not work as professional doctors, with some remarkable exceptions, until decades later.

Cambridge University established two colleges for women in 1869 (Girton College) and 1872 (Newnham College). However, it took until 1947 for women to be accepted as full members of Cambridge university. The first university to admit female students on the same terms as male students was the University College of London in 1878. In the 1960s and 1970s, the second wave feminist movement in the UK addressed issues of gender inequality with a special focus on education. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 rendered unlawful the unfavourable treatment of women (or men) based on sex or marriage, at the workplace, in education or training. It had the function “of working towards the elimination of such discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity between men and women”.

Suffrage

Since the 1890s the suffrage movement in Britain had stood up for women’s right to vote. Following the movement’s activities, the Representation of the People Act in 1918 granted electoral rights to women of property, aged 30 years or older. (The Act also meant that men of any social standing were now in a position to vote.) In addition women were officially allowed to stand for parliament. Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons in 1919. Only in 1958, following the Life Peerages Act of that year, were the first women appointed to the House of Lords. In 1928, under the Equal Franchise Act, the right to vote was extended to women of any social standing, aged 21 years and older. Men and women in Britain had finally gained equal electoral rights.

Employment

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Jennie Lee, MP in 1947 © Hulton Getty

With increasing opportunities for vocational training and university learning in the 20th century, women have gained wider access to a range of occupations. (eg film director Jill Craigie.) The issue of equal pay for men and women has been addressed by equal rights campaigners since the 1940s (eg politician Jennie Lee) and increasingly so from the 1960s onwards.

Creating opportunities for women to enter a wider range of occupations as well as high level positions in the professional world is still an ongoing topic. To an extent, the objectives of women’s rights campaigners are somewhat in accord with those of the growing gender equality and Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGBT) movement. (See also Discrimination – Sexuality.)

International Sport

In the world of international sport, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, women (unlike men) were initially allowed to only participate in a limited number of sport contests. It was not until 1976 that the range of sports offered to women in the Olympics began to increase significantly. Images of female athletes and professional sportswomen then began to become more frequent in the media.

IWD more recently

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Scottish Women’s Banner 1996 © The City of Edinburgh Council

In the 1970s the United Nations began organising global IWD events to raise awareness of gender inequality issues. Since then, International Women’s Day has become a more widely-known event to promote female rights in many countries. Governments and women’s organisations worldwide, in the developing and the developed world, now use the day to run training, information and celebratory events.

In Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Georgia, Mongolia, Russia, Uganda, the Ukraine, Zambia, and several other countries, IWD is celebrated as a public holiday.

Images © Glasgow Caledonian University Library, Falkirk Museums, Hulton Getty,  The City of Edinburgh Council | Licensor Scran 

First World War Voices from Falkirk

23rd October 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

As commemorations of the centenary of World War One continue, you may be interested in a recent addition to Scran’s oral history collections – Falkirk’s First World War.

This series of three interviews recorded by Falkirk Museums in 1984, presents the memories of local men and women who lived through the conflict. Listen to a soldier recount his experiences of fighting on The Western Front and women who worked in Falkirk’s munition factories recall the dangers of their work as well as the well-earned visits from concert parties.

Click on the links below to access each interview on Scran, where you’ll also find summaries with timecodes and full transcripts.  Or go straight to the full set of interviews here.

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I remember my father saying to me, he says, ‘George,’ he says, ‘It’ll be all over long before you’re ready to go.’ Little did he know.

Listen to more from this interview with Mr George Gladstone

 

06450181 (1)We all used to sing and sometimes they’d bring people in or a concert party in on a Friday at lunchtime and you got a longer lunch but they was sometimes terrible and we used to clap them and, you know when, and it was only because we didn’t like the thing at all [laughs]. But we used to clap them like anything.

Listen to more from this interview with Mrs Kathleen Templeton

06450299 (1)Tell me about the time now that you saw the Zeppelin.

I was just coming home one night and everybody started to shout, it was dark. You know, they keep the furnaces and everything dark. And you saw this thing just going across the sky it’s like a double decker bus all lit up, you know, it sticks out in my mind, you can mind that, it’s plain. And there was one that was brought down in flames later.

Listen to more from this interview with Mrs Jean Paul

Images: © Falkirk Museums. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk