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Dunbar Bricks & Heritage Angels

5th December 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

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Mark Cranston – Heritage Angel Award Winner

Some of you may have heard about the recent Scottish Heritage Angel Awards? Here at Scran we caught wind of the fascinating work of Mark Cranston, who proceeded to win Category A for Investigating & Recording his extensive collection of bricks.

Scran has a pile of brick related content, which Mark was already familiar with, and through a series of fortunate events, we were able to contribute to his ever growing collection. East Lothian resident, Gina Williams, donated the brick which Scran then delivered to Jedburgh.

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The brick was from a Dunbar manufacturer and although he already had an example of a M.B. Sherriff brick, he had not seen this particular variation. One face on each has a shallow rectangular ‘frog’ or depression with text MB SHERRIFF/ DUNBAR and impressions of screw-heads.

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Invoice, Seafield Brick and Tile Works, 1868

Seafield Brick & Tile Works at West barns, near Dunbar, supplied the local market as well as special commissions in Scotland and abroad.  These bricks were made using deposits of surface clay; originally dark grey, the clay becomes red when fired, a change caused by the oxidation of iron contained in the clay. The Seafield brickworks operated from the early eighteen hundreds on land reclaimed from the sea between West Barns and Belhaven. Once in the hands of David France, it passed to William Brodie and then his relatives, the Sherriffs of West Barns. William Brodie, invested in new equipment and expanded the works, exporting many of the products on his own fleet of steam vessels from Dunbar Harbour.

Unusually for a Victorian industrialist, M.Brodie Sherriff  was a woman. In 1884 she purchased & re-opened the brickworks at Westbank, in Portobello, so expanding the business further.

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Seafield Brickworks, West Barns – surface clay pits

Nineteenth century East Lothian had a number of industrial scale plants producing bricks, tiles, pipes and other large scale ceramics. Seafield relied upon surface deposits of clay. Later, the abandoned clay pits were used to dump municipal waste and landfill until around 1970. Then the land was landscaped and planted; part was reserved for amenity, being integrated into the John Muir Country Park in 1976.

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You can see the full extent of Mark Cranston’s collection of bricks  http://www.scottishbrickhistory.co.uk/

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Images ©  Mark Cranston, Scran & East Lothian Museums Service| Licensor Scran

Anyone for Afternoon Tea?

4th May 2016 by Scran | 0 comments

Tea Plate features in Scran Top Ten00981120 (1)

It’s always interesting for us to see what’s trending in the Scran search box, and today this plate is proving popular amongst our users. Made in Greenock,  the transfer-printed earthenware tea plate was made by the Clyde Pottery Company  in Renfrewshire. It dates from between 1863 and 1900, measures 25 mm H x 210 mm rim D and is marked ‘C.P. Co.’

The pattern is called ‘Mayflower’.  A sailing ship can be seen in a small circle in the centre of the plate and in three others around the border. J. & M.P. Bell & Company of Glasgow also produced a pattern with this title.

A pottery at Greenock was established in 1815 under the title of ‘The Clyde Pottery Company’. It was run by Thomas Shirley & Co from the 1840s until 1857. Thereafter, it continued as the Clyde Pottery Company Ltd until 1863. From then until 1900 it was known as the Clyde Pottery Company and from 1900 until its closure in 1905, it reverted back to Clyde Pottery Company Ltd.

Image © National Museums Scotland Licensor Scran

The Christmas Card Phenomenon

9th December 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

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Christmas greetings cards have become a regular feature of the traditional British Christmas with billions changing hands within the UK each year, but where did this tradition begin and why did it continue to thrive?

Humble Beginnings?

The first Christmas card is thought to have been designed by British artist John Calcott Horsley in 1840. With the invention of the telephone still over 30 years away, sending hand-written letters by mail was the primary means of communication. Faced with the tedious task of writing to all his friends and family members with Christmas greetings, a friend of Horsley, civil servant Henry Cole, conceived the idea of a printed card bearing a suitable message which could be signed and sent to one and all. Horsley embraced the idea and produced a design which was published in 1843. Cole had 1000 of the cards printed and placed on sale at the rather princely sum of 1 shilling each. Little did he realise just how popular his idea would become!

National Mania

09230757Times have changed since Henry Cole’s moment of inspired laziness: mail is no longer the mainstay of communication. The telephone network has joined up the remotest corners of the world and the cheap, paperless, instantaneous communication afforded by e-mail has threatened to make ‘snail mail’ altogether obsolete. The Christmas card, however, goes marching on, and in no small way.

We are still crazy enough about Christmas cards to cause enormous disruption to the postal system every December. This year, postboxes will be stuffed with an estimated 2 billion cards and on the busiest day the national mailbag will contain almost double its usual 84 million items. Such is the congestion that Royal Mail recommend posting second class seasonal dispatches 8 days in advance to guarantee arrival in time for the big day.

Conscientious Choice

06712561Two billion cards amounts to a lot of paper and a lot of spending. Many consumers are now looking for more conscientious ways to enjoy the tradition. Each year, around a quarter of shoppers will choose charity cards in the hope that good causes can benefit from their seasonal spending. However, the percentage of proceeds finding their way to good causes varies widely. Research by the Charities Advisory Trust suggests that some charity cards are just not all that charitable after all: the most miserly example they uncovered passed only 0.3% of proceeds to the named good cause. Others will aim for a more ethical celebration by boycotting Christmas cards altogether, feeling that their seasonal goodwill is better expressed by not contributing to the tonnes of paper waste generated from cards each year.

‘Tis the Season to Recycle?

  • 06710368An estimated 1 billion Christmas cards and 83 sq km of wrapping paper will end up in our bins this year
  • We bought around 7.5 million Christmas trees in 2001: at least 1.1 million were recycled
  • 20 – 30% more glass and cans will be collected for recycling over the festive period

Christianity back into Christmas?

Horsley’s original card had its opponents too, but for different reasons. It bore an image of a family raising their glasses to Christmas which incited fury amongst Puritans of the time. In what was still very much a Christian state the uproar was caused by the association of the evils of alcohol with the sanctity of the feast of Christmas. It is interesting to note that, while scenes of the Nativity and other connected imagery went on to become regular features in the design of Christmas cards, the genuine article was quite secular in its design.

Controversy about the presence or absence of Christianity in Christmas traditions rages in Britain to this day with many Christians bemoaning the seeming transformation of the feast from a religious event into an orgy of consumerism. Others would praise the fact that in our modern British society, one characterized by a far more diverse range of religion and cultural traditions than the Victorians would have recognised, the goodwill of Christmas is now often shared across faiths and cultures. The disagreement reaches beyond the UK too. In 2005 the president of the USA received angry feedback about the official White House Christmas card: the secular design of the card horrified some recipients (it featured two of the head of state’s pet dogs frolicking in the snow on the White House Lawn).

Question of Taste

The official White House card illustrates how the sending of Christmas cards has become protocol in the USA. The same is true in Britain: businesses are careful not forget their customers, and refuse collectors all over the country will receive cards from perfect strangers during the season. Is a Christmas card from the paperboy evidence of lasting Christmas spirit or just a hint that a tip might be in order?

A wide variety of designs have evolved to suit these myriad purposes. Horsley’s original design showed a scene of Christmas cheer. Cards like this are still popular, alongside Nativity scenes and informal cartoons. When the Christmas card was still a relatively new idea the Victorians became very fond of elaborately engineered pop-up and trick cards. Nowadays, hand-making cards is a popular hobby and parents everywhere are still best pleased with the lovingly prepared designs in glitter and glue brought home by their sticky-fingered schoolchildren.

What makes a good Christmas card? Can a piece of stationery really embody the Christmas spirit? Why not try making a Scran card to find out? Search for an image and click Create to make a greetings card in a few easy steps and see if you can make someone’s Christmas!

Images © Scottish Life Archive, The Scotsman Publications Ltd | Licensor Scran

Cypriot Lace

17th September 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

You may have read our blog post last week Empowering Communities in Cyprus? Well look what we found at the back of the Scran linen cupboard! It’s a piece of Cypriot lace in the form of a table mat, from around 1935. This beautiful sample forms part of the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) collections shared via Scran.

The Needlework Development Scheme was set up in 1934 to encourage greater interest in embroidery and to raise the standard of design. Financed anonymously by J & P Coats, the intention was also to form a collection of British and foreign embroideries to which colleges of art and other institutions could have access. The aim was never to have a representative collection but rather to collect items purely on the quality of their design. A series of four embroidery experts were employed to oversee the collection and their international outlook is clearly represented in the collection.

In 1961 the Scheme was disbanded and its collection of over 3500 pieces of historic and contemporary needlework was dispersed to various museums and art colleges in Britain. The Royal Scottish Museum acquired 213 pieces and an exhibition was held in 1965 to show this magnificent gift.

Image © National Museums Scotland. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk.

Feast Your Eyes on Scran

10th September 2015 by Scran | 0 comments

jackies2_03410392jackies2_110400005jackies2_09330005jackies2_09310593jackies2_3359_20355_005-000-010-205-R_2011-09-09_10-54-44jackies2_canmore_1366450jackies2_07150087jackies2_09310035Whether you simply enjoy looking at art, perusing design classics, studying the visual arts at school or university – or you just need a picture of an elephant for a project – Scran can be of assistance. Intended to whet your appetite, the above gallery post is a just a tiny sample of the fabulous Art & Design content we have available.

Remember if you are using imagery or information you find on Scran for school work, portfolio preparation or even SQA coursework, it is vital that you attribute the usage correctly. You can get advice on our © is for Copyright page and we are happy to answer any questions if you want to contact us. We are here to help and appreciate it can be a tricky subject.

For any Blogging Bootcamp schools out there working on a Glow Blog, which is public, it is best to follow the example set in this post. When using Scran content in this manner, it is permitted to insert the thumbnail sized images, then hyper link them back to Scran & of course, attribute the copyright holder – see below. Meanwhile happy blogging!

Images © Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Lothian Health Services Archive, Tain & District Museum Trust, The Sangsters, Zhao Xie and The British Museum. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Blogging Bootcamp #2

1st September 2015 by Scran | 1 Comment

Scran is limbering up for Blogging Bootcamp #2 on Glow this afternoon.  jackies2_09309212

We’ve even got our favourite sturdy pair of Doctor Martens from 1994 ready for the occasion. The Scran staff hope to learn a bit more about blogging – as well as sharing information about Scran, copyright, digital assets and our schools outreach work.

If you are taken by our lovely green Docs and fancy more fashionable footwear, why not browse through historical and contemporary shoe designs here.

Image © Victoria & Albert MuseumPair of Dr Martens bootsLicensor www.scran.ac.uk