Last Friday, LHSA had the opportunity to take part in the annual Royal Edinburgh Hospital Fete. The event has been on our calendar now for a number of years, and it’s been a pleasure to take an ongoing part in the institution that has generated our most widely-used collection.
Along with the craft stalls, live music – yes, we did hear a piper making his way through the hospital corridors! – and home-baking, there’s also a historical element to the fete every year, and that’s where we come in. LHSA Manager Ruth put together a small display demonstrating how the history of the hospital is reflected in our collections in the fete’s History Room, from the first minute book of the hospital to photographs of its buildings in times gone by.
LHSA display in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital History Room
Some of the items on display in the History Room were also used in last year’s 200 Years 200 Objects exhibition, celebrating the bicentenary of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. My particular favourites were the editions of the Morningside Mirror on display. The Morningside Mirror was a magazine written by patients dating from 1845. It was printed on a specially purchased printing press (part of an early form of ‘occupational therapy’):
LHB7/13/23 - 1964 edition of the Morningside Mirror
By far the most popular items on the day were examples from our photograph collection. Not only did we represent the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, but also Bangour Village Hospital. Since many clinical and support staff who came to see us worked across both buildings, they could see the changes that had occurred across the sites. Perhaps some of the most arresting images we displayed in this centenary year came from the First World War, when both hospitals housed military patients, with Bangour Village Hospital being taken over by the War Office to treat physical casualties of war and the Royal Edinburgh Hospital treating soldiers suffering from the conflict's psychological effects.
Left: Unidentified First World War soldier from LHSA's Bangour Village Hospital collection (P/PL44).
Right: Red Cross ambulance at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, First World War (P/PL7).
The image that intrigued most visitors was this one from 1966:
Celebrity visitor to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (P/PL7)
We know that this lady was likely to have been a celebrity visitor, but we have had no luck in identifying who she is. As Blue Peter used to say, answers on a postcard, please….