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Whose Town? Edinburgh during the Second World War

Whose Town? Edinburgh during the Second World War
Whose Town? Edinburgh during the Second World War
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.

World War Two in Edinburgh
Soon after the outbreak of war on 3rd September 1939, Edinburgh experienced the first bombing raid on Britain. On 16th October the Luftwaffe attacked shipping near the Forth Bridge killing 16 sailors and injuring 44 others. However, a lack of heavy industry protected Edinburgh from sustained bombing and the city was hit by a total of 47 bombs. 30,000 public and 110,000 private air raid shelters, known as Anderson shelters, were built. They were built six feet underground and covered with earth and grass. Some people grew vegetables on the top. Gas masks were issued to everyone and people had to carry them wherever they went. Schools had regular drills to ensure all children remembered to carry their gas mask and knew how to put it on.

People were encouraged to 'Dig for Victory' by growing their own food and allotments sprung up in parks and waste ground all over the city. People also recycled paper and metal which could be turned into shell casings, guns and other munitions. Many of the railings round peoples' houses and parks were also cut down for their metal. Edinburgh's industry supported the war effort by building ships for the navy - Robb's shipyard in Leith built 42 naval vessels and 14 merchant ships during the war.

On the 8th May 1945, Victory in Europe Day was celebrated. There were bonfires and street parties across Edinburgh. Princes Street was packed with people singing and dancing.

Discover the people who lived during World War Two:
John Lyle who grew up in Edinburgh during the period
Nancy Pugh who was evacuated aged nine from Glasgow to Perthshire
Charles Boog Watson an octogenarian ARP warden.

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