Scars on the City

5 Feb — 27 Jun 2015 at the Museum of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Munition workers at an Edinburgh factory. From the collection of Edinburgh Museums & Galleries
Munition workers at an Edinburgh factory. From the collection of Edinburgh Museums & Galleries
23 FEB 2015

The hardship and horror of a war that reached beyond the front line to our own doorsteps has been documented at the City of Edinburgh Council's Museum of Edinburgh.

On display from 5 February until 27 June 2015, Scars on the City: Edinburgh in World War I draws on the Capital’s extensive collection of objects and oral archives to recall what it was like to be in Edinburgh while the war was raging.

Documenting the stories of local munitions workers, nurses and children - and including an account of war recruitment drives that thronged the city's streets - the display homes in on the tragic zeppelin raids of April 1916 which destroyed local buildings and scarred the Capital.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said the exhibition offers a stirring glimpse at life on the home front during WW1. He said: “Scars on the City reveals the will of Edinburgh’s home front and how people coped with the hardship and dangers of the war. Most of the objects and photographs on display are from the city’s own archives, and have been based on fascinating accounts from those who lived through the unrest.

“Over the last year the Council has provided a programme of free exhibitions and events across the city which commemorate the centenary of WW1 and life on the front line. This free to visit display brings it back ‘home’ and recalls what life was like for those left behind. It’s hard to imagine Edinburgh’s skyline being attacked from the air by zeppelins, and it is stirring to see how the city was destroyed, but also how it survived and was rebuilt.”

Exhibition curator Vicky Garrington said she was spoilt for choice when it came to selecting objects for the exhibition. She commented: “We’ve got some wonderful objects that will really transport visitors back to wartime Edinburgh. There are pieces of shrapnel collected after the zeppelin raids on Edinburgh in April 1916. A Braille pocket watch used by a blinded ex-servicemen shows the sacrifices made to defend Britain, and younger visitors will enjoy seeing the toys and games children played with during the war, drawn from the Museum of Childhood collection.

"I was surprised to find out how clued up young people at the time were about the details of the War. Cigarette cards taught them about ranks, Army signals and artillery, while board games challenged them to evade mines and bombs en route to Berlin.”

Scars on the City: Edinburgh in World War I will be on display at the Museum of Edinburgh until 27 June 2015. The Museum is owned and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council's Museums & Galleries service and is free to visit.