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Whose Town? Brave New World

Whose Town? Brave New World
Whose Town? Brave New World
Whose Town? was an educational resource built on the heritage collections of the City of Edinburgh. It was developed by Edinburgh City Libraries in partnership with Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Edinburgh City Archives. The resource was launched in 2011 and unfortunately is no longer available in its original format, however, we have created exhibitions here on Capital Collections to provide schools with access to even more material and to allow a wider audience access to the fascinating stories told in Whose Town?

We are also working on recreating the life stories as digital trails on Our Town Stories.

Whose Town? looks at Edinburgh from 1850 - 1959 to discover the city's past through the lives of the people who lived there. We have used people who lived in Victorian times, at the beginning of the twentieth century, during the Second World War and in the Fifties. There are fourteen lives to discover as well as exhibitions about each of the four eras.

Beginning of the 20th century
On the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, her eldest son became King Edward VII, and Britain entered the Edwardian era. Edward was a popular ruler, contrasting with the period of mourning that Queen Victoria had endured since her husband's death in 1861. The new King and the new century generated feelings of progress and hope in Edinburgh and throughout Britain.

By 1900, Edinburgh's population was over 310,000 and was growing rapidly with the inclusion of villages formerly outside the city's boundaries including Portobello (1896); Granton (1900); Restalrig (1900) and Duddingston (1901). Areas of new housing were built in Comely Bank, Marchmont and Bruntsfield. Despite these new developments, in 1913 there were still more than 7100 houses in Edinburgh which had only one room and 94% of the population shared a common toilet. Disease continued to be a serious issue and a Fever Hospital opened in 1903 to treat patients suffering from diseases such as influenza (flu), tuberculosis, whooping cough and typhus. Flu killed more people than WWI did.

Technological and social developments were changing the face of Edinburgh. The first motorised bus was introduced running from the Mound to Corstorphine in 1906 and in 1907 the last horse drawn trams were withdrawn.

The women's suffrage movement became increasingly more militant and vocal. In 1909 a peaceful march was held along Princes Street by the members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). With the beginning of the First World War, the suffragettes stopped all their activities to support the country at war and in doing so many women took over men's work. The optimism of Edward's reign was short lived with his death in 1910 and the start of WWI in 1914. Two whole battalions of the Royal Scots (15th and 16th) were formed from the city's population including the entire Hearts football team who had signed up together. Many of these men never returned and virtually no Edinburgh household was untouched - a whole generation of young men died.

Discover the people who lived at the beginning of the 20th century in separate online exhibitions:
Arthur Pordage, Firemaster of Edinburgh Fire Brigade
Luca Scappaticcio an Italian immigrant who established an ice cream parlour in Musselburgh
Bessie Watson, the youngest suffragette.

Whose town? is supported by funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund.