If you have time, treat yourself to a walk through living memories today. As you walk round Leith you will almost certainly see the green ear signs marking the spot where local people tell stories that shape the character of this unique part of Edinburgh.
These green ears are symbols of [murmur] a very human approach to local history which we first reported on this website in September last year (see Making History in Leith). At that time we passed on an appeal for local people to come forward with their stories. Now [murmur] Edinburgh has been launched and Leith Open Space is very proud to have played a small part in helping to make local history. Some of our supporters are among the voices on the street.
Memories of life in Leith can come to life with the help of your mobile phone. Dial the number on the sign and you can hear a story (often more than one) triggered by this location. Alternatively, if you don’t have time for a walk today, click on the [murmur] Edinburgh website, and try any of the red dots on the map.
A sense of place: thanks to New Media Scotland for pictures
Remember when you could catch a train from Leith Central Station to Waverley? Just click here for John Stewart’s story? Or try here for Stan’s great tales of ‘the dancing’ on Mondays and Fridays when Alexander’s Ragtime Band filled the Assembly Hall with jiving couples. Then go along to Victoria Swim Centre to hear Gina remember the days when she paid six old pennies for a bath at Victoria Swimming Pool (for a whole shilling she got soap too).
The present inspires stories too. Celina Mbwiria, a founder member of our Opening Doors shadow scheme, celebrates the diversity she finds at the foot of Leith Walk. Click here for her warm memories of the welcome Leith Primary School gave her children at a time when there were no black children in the classroom. And click here to discover how Tommy Miah (who has generously donated food for our Open Space events) brings ‘fusion’ food such as curried haggis to that grand old cinema building which is now The Raj restaurant.
Supporters of Leith Open Space were among many who responded to the appeal for stories when Shawn Micallef came from Toronto last year to explore the potential for developing the [murmur] project in Edinburgh. Mary Moriarty, vice chair of Leith Festival, welcomed Shawn to meet locals at her Port O’ Leith bar with his name chalked among today’s specials on the bar blackboard. (Click here for one of Mary’s stories).
The first 20 story signs were recently launched in Leith but there will always be room for more. Shawn hopes to be back for a second launch in June when [murmur] Leith is part of the Six Cities Design Festival, and the Leith Festival.
[murmur] in Leith is produced in partnership with New Media Scotland (mediascot.org), which supports imaginative collaboration between art and technology. Or as Michelle Kasprzak of NMS puts it: ‘we are using the technology we all carry in our pocket as a tool to access contemporary culture’. New Media Scotland is core funded by the Scottish Arts Council, and [murmur] in Leith is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.