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Whose Town? Edinburgh in the 1950s

Whose Town? Edinburgh in the 1950s
Whose Town? Edinburgh in the 1950s
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.

Edinburgh in the 1950s
Edinburgh, like the rest of the UK, experienced a time of great change during the Fifties. At the start of the decade, the city continued to experience the affects of rationing and also suffered from a desperate lack of good housing. However, rationing finally ended in 1954 and the introduction of prefabricated houses eased the housing problem. Post-war optimism was spurred on in 1953 by the arrival to the throne of the young Queen Elizabeth II. When she visited Edinburgh to celebrate her coronation hundreds of people turned out on the streets to see her procession.

The 1950s saw a growing consumerism and many labour-saving devices appeared in the home. Mass production and the wider use of plastics meant a greater variety of toys too. As industry boomed Edinburgh people grew more prosperous and there was an unemployment rate of only 3%. Factories such as Walls ice cream, Duncan's chocolate, Golden Wonder crisps, breweries and the Leith shipyards employed many of the city's workforce.

Leisure became more accessible to all ages with more people going on outings and holidays. During Edinburgh trades fortnight many of the city's population headed to Fife or to Portobello and its new open air swimming pool. Trams were seen as old-fashioned and they were phased out in favour of buses.

Discover the people who lived during the Fifties in separate online exhibitions:
Selma Ahmad who grew up with in 1950s Edinburgh with a Scottish mother and an Indian father
Hugh Cairns a tram driver
Bachan Kharbanda came to Scotland to study in Glasgow and then opened an "Eastern Crafts" shop in Edinburgh
Iain MacLaren was a trainee surgeon
Bill McLean a teenager during the Fifties.

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