One of Scran’s founding aims when it was inaugurated over 20 years ago was to give greater visibility to museums, archives and galleries across Scotland, and to level the playing field between the large National institutions and the smaller ones. One of the best things about Scran, for some of these small museums and galleries, is simply having a digital presence, a place to display their amazing collections when they don’t have the funding or the agreement to create a website of their own. We now have over 300 contributing institutions, all of which have equal billing within Scran searches, and we’ve made available tens of thousands of records from the museums that wouldn’t otherwise be viewable on the World Wide Web.
Another relatively small institution, The Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at Edinburgh Castle, approached us at the end of 2016 to enquire about putting some of their digitised museum artefacts on Scran, and we were very excited to have the chance to host these.
The Royal Regiment of Scotland was formed in 2006, when The Royal Scots, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Black Watch, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, The Highlanders, 52nd Lowland and 51st Highland Regiments were amalgamated.
The Regimental museum displays a number of objects relating to the Regiment’s activities since its formation in 2006, including artefacts from its operations in Afghanistan as well as clothing and equipment. The records that the Museum has licensed to Scran thus far include a Taliban flag, body armour from desert operations, and children’s toys handed out to Afghani youngsters; they’ll be of immense value to schools and colleges as part of the Modern Studies and Modern History curricula. You can see the first 51 records in the Museum’s collection here. This initial batch of images from the Museum should be joined by others later in the year.
Last year, Scran was delighted to be contacted by Annabel Murray, who had an exciting find to share with us. She brought in a box of glass slides, along with an antique slide viewer. The slides were images of her stepfather as a young boy, along with members of his family, servants and other friends. Although the family had its roots in Scotland, the images were taken in Malawi in the 1930s. The most exciting part for us, though, was that the images were stereoscopic- in other words, the slides contained two images side-by-side, taken with a special camera with two lenses. The two lenses are set slightly apart and mimic what the human eyes see, so that each picture is slightly different, offset by a few centimetres. The resulting images can then be viewed in a stereoscopic viewer, a little bit like a pair of opera glasses, and the image appears to be 3-dimensional. The same principle was used in children’s View Master toys. It’s easier to see than to explain, so here’s a picture:
The images themselves are terrific, and while they are certainly of historical and archival interest, we felt it was important to preserve their stereoscopic nature. They have a lot of scientific value- biology students and tutors will find these fascinating, as they are directly informed by the science of optics and the inner workings of the eye. We’ve digitised the images, with much help from the Historic Environment Scotland photography team, and made them available to download here.
We’ve also digitised 12 images that seemingly came free with the viewer, a bit like the free reels that you get with a modern-day View Master. In this case, they’re images of the walled French medieval city, Carcassonne. Again, they’re really amazing curios. They can be seen at www.scran.ac.uk/s/carcassonne.
We’re looking for a new member to join our Education & Outreach team, based in Edinburgh. If you’re as enthused about digitisation, culture and history as we are, drop us a line! More info and the application form are at http://bit.ly/ScranJob, and the closing date is July 21st 2017 at noon.
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships – known simply as Wimbledon – is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It takes place for a fortnight in late June and early July, and has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, south-west London since 1877.
Wimbledon is one of four Grand Slam tennis tournaments held around the world, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Wimbledon is the only one still to be played on grass. The tournament culminates in the Singles Finals: the Ladies’, held on the second Saturday of the fortnight, and the Gentlemen’s, on the second Sunday.
Edinburgh University Lawn Tennis Club 1898
The game of lawn tennis was devised by one Major Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1876. Originally called ‘sphairistike’ it was introduced as a new game to the All England Croquet Club, located in Worple Road, Wimbledon. The new game took off and the Club was renamed The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club a year later. A new code of laws was drawn up and the Club held its inaugural Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships in July 1877. Two hundred spectators paid one shilling to watch old Harrovian, Spencer Gore, win the only event of the tournament, the Gentlemen’s Singles Final. In 1884, Ladies’ Singles and Gentlemen’s Doubles were introduced; and in 1913, Ladies’ Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added.
Women tennis players, Falkirk c.1900
In 1922 the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club moved to its current Wimbledon location in Church Road. The lawns on which the games take place were originally laid out so that the principal one was positioned in the middle and hence became known as Centre Court. Finals matches continue to take place on Centre Court. Once open to the elements, in 2009 a retractable roof was fitted and crowd-pulling matches are now no longer at the mercy of the British weather. Over the years, the Club has grown in size and a long-term plan to develop the site further was unveiled in 1993. This has seen the creation of new lawn tennis courts, improved facilities for players, spectators and the media – Wimbledon was first televised in 1937. There is also now a museum within the complex and even a bank.
Strawberries & Cream
Tennis Dress 1926
Wimbledon has spawned many traditions. Its associations with strawberries and cream, as refreshment for spectators, and lemon barley water, as refreshment for the players, are well known, as is its patronage by members of the Royal Family. A strict dress code is maintained for competitors, who are required to wear predominantly all-white clothing. The odd flash of non-fluorescent colour is acceptable as long as it is not identifiable as being the logo of a commerical sponsor. The umpire, linesmen, ball-boys and ball-girls originally wore green, but since 2006 have sported navy blue and cream uniforms. Some etiquette observed at Wimbledon can seem outdated. Scoreboards still feature the titles of Miss and Mrs for female players. It was only as recent as 2009 that married female players were no longer referred to by their husband’s name – Chris Evert-Lloyd, during her marriage to John Lloyd, appeared at Wimbledon as Mrs J M Lloyd.
During the Second World War, 5 bombs hit Centre Court – it took 9 years for the court to be fully restored
Yellow tennis balls were introduced in 1986 – the white balls used up till then were difficult for the umpires to see
The last time anyone used a wooden racket at Wimbledon was in 1987
Each year at Wimbledon 28,000 kg of strawberries & 7,000 litres of cream are eaten
“I’m Theo Smith, over the past week I have been doing work experience with Historic Environment Scotland. Part of my work experience has been working with Scran. I was tasked with writing a blog post inspired by my discoveries on scran.ac.uk. After a bit of research I decided to see what I could find about my school and its founder George Heriot. I decided on this topic because even though I already know a bit about my school’s history, I wanted to find out more. When looking through Scran I found some really interesting information and images – here is what I found out.”
George Heriot – Founder of the School (1563-1624)
George Heriot was born in 1593 to a father of the same name. His father was a goldsmith and was descended from the Heriots of Traboun, an old and well known family in East Lothian. In 1588 George Heriot became a member of the Corporation of Goldsmiths, continuing his father’s work. He was so good at his work that in 1597 he became the goldsmith to Queen Anne, which led to him becoming the jeweler and goldsmith to King James VI only four years later. When King James became King of England, Heriot followed him to London and lived there until he died on the 12th February 1624 at the age of 60. He died a very rich man and those riches would go into building a school for the upbringing and education of the “puire fatherless bairnes” of Edinburgh. It would be named Heriot’s Hospital.
Inside the Quadrangle – 1953
The building of the school was taken on by the royal master mason William Wallace. He was a well known in Scotland as an expert for these kinds of buildings as he already had a number of notable structures to his name. He also was the main mason on the King’s Lodgings at Edinburgh Castle. But Wallace died before he could finish and the job was taken up by his apprentice William Aytoun who had assisted him on various other projects. Aytoun almost completed the building however he died at the end of the 1640’s. In 1693 Robert Mylne presented drawings to build the large octagonal clock tower. He also added a statue of George Heriot inside the quadrangle. In the early 19th century the well known architect William H Playfair added a gatehouse on Lauriston Place.
The gatehouse at Lauriston Place
He also added a terrace around the base of the main building of the school. The interior of the chapel in the south side of the main building was done by Scottish architect James Gillespie Graham in 1837.
When the main building of the school was complete in 1650 it was occupied by the injured and sick troops of Oliver Cromwell until 1658 when he died. The school opened its gates to 30 more boys. This increased the number of boys living at the school to 150. In 1837 the school opened 10 ‘free schools’ across Edinburgh which educated several thousand children however they closed in 1885. A year later Heriot’s Hospital was renamed to George Heriot’s School which it has remained ever since. In the 1870’s the school paid for an institution, which would later merge with the Watt institution, to form Heriot-Watt College, a technical college, which would later become the Heriot-Watt University.
The Brannan Sisters arrive in August 1979
In 1979 three Brannan sisters from Dalkeith became the first girls to attend the school. There are a number of children in the school, those who meet the financial and residential criteria, who still receive help from the school which offers full coverage of the costs to attend. This shows that George Heriots legacy still continues and may continue for a long time to come.
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.
Here at Scran we have a longstanding volunteer who has been toiling away for almost ten years. This trusted member of the Scran team, Alison McKay, deals with a steady stream of information, liaises with Scran fans & then enhances the records. In the past decade she has encountered many a curious tale and become expert on a variety of topics. Here is her account of a recent discovery about this picture.
“As a volunteer based at Scran, I receive the messages which are generated by the ‘Comment’ & ‘Correct or Add Info‘ functions available on every Scran record. The messages come from individuals who may have come across a record by chance (as I first did back in 1999 and discovered Scran in its early days) or by focused research and who realise they have something to share from their familiarity with the subject matter of the record. Providing additional information or suggesting corrections to captions attached to Scran records is a wonderful opportunity for people to share their passions, interests and knowledge about subjects as diverse as types of buses, footballer players of yesteryear, speedway riders and scenes from their childhood.
As I join in the detective work of verifying the new information they suggest and making it useful to the ever growing resource which is Scran, I too learn more about their chosen subject. I may find other links in related Scran records to which I can alert them. By sharing information and ideas, the users ‘out there’ provide a voluntary service to complement my in-house voluntary efforts. This collaboration of real and virtual volunteers can continue over an extended period of months or years.
Nellie MacDougall 1903, seated on the far right of the middle row.
Earlier this year, a Scran user supplied a detailed final background paragraph on the teacher, Nellie MacDougall, featured in the above picture in 1912. By scrutinising the image, I was able to identify that the words on the blackboard were French and so this was added to the caption. Next I wondered if the teacher appeared in any other record and I found her in 1903, pictured in the group photograph to the right.
The task of enhancing the caption for these two records may continue. Perhaps a Scran user will be able to give me birth or death dates for Nellie MacDougall (or any other people mentioned) – or even confirm if her teaching subject was French? And was Hamish MacDougall in one of the photographs a relative?”
If you can help Alison discover more about Nellie MacDougall, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, we would like to thank Alison for everything she does for Scran, her years of dedication are fully appreciated.
2017 is the Scottish year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and May is the month in which we highlight Scotland’s industrial heritage. For International Museums Day on May 18th this year, archives and museums including Scran were asked to contribute materials on the theme of “contested histories”. We had a think about an appropriate subject, and decided to draw on our extensive archives (and those of Canmore at www.canmore.org.uk) to tell the story of the 1984-85 miners’ strike in Scotland, a story that definitely has two sides, and remains controversial to this day.
Drawing on documentary photos, leaflets, flyers, posters, badges, interviews and video recordings from archives and museum collections including the National Museums of Scotland and the Scottish Mining Museum, the story takes the form of a long essay and is an attempt to look at the human side of the dispute as much as the industrial one. For technical reasons, the essay is hosted at www.canmore.org.uk/discovery/strike rather than on Scran.
The Scran Education Officers have been spending a lot of time in Scottish schools of late. This is nothing new, you might think- Scran has always spent a lot of time in Scottish schools, usually training teachers at twilight CPD sessions in how to use our website, so that this knowledge can be cascaded down the school.
Recently, though, we’ve been doing more and more interaction within school hours, directly with learners in the classroom, getting them hands-on with Scran and engaging with our archives as part of the Curriculum for Excellence. Last week our travels took us to Falkirk, where we met up with students from three different classes at two schools, Antonine Primary and Denny Primary. Both schools are currently studying ScotJam- we were none the wiser until the teachers told us the abbreviation stands for Scotland/Jamaica- and exploring the many links between their home country and the Caribbean island.
We spent a fascinating morning and afternoon with the children as they pored over the Jamaica-related materials on Scran. We found images of the Jamaican flag, and noted its similarity to the Scottish Saltire. This is apparently not a coincidence. The flag was designed in part by Rev William R.F. McGhie, a Scottish Presbyterian minister located in Jamaica at the time of its independence from the UK. We stumbled upon numerous Scran images of Jamaica Street in Glasgow, and noted the presence of similarly-named streets in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Conversely, we discovered that there is an Edinburgh Castle in Jamaica.
Here at Scran we always love it when we see our content being used in creative and entertaining ways. Recently the work of Alasdair Burns caught our eye. Alasdair works in the Publications section of Historic Environment Scotland, laying out and typesetting our books, leaflets, brochures and publicity. He’s also part of the Wellbeing Group here at HES, which promotes a healthy lifestyle within the workplace. Alasdair is fantastic at finding bizarre, quirky and memorable imagery to support the health advice of the group. Here are some of our favourites.