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19 September 2016

Uncover Edinburgh’s Lost Past

Public invited to see ‘the Edinburgh that never was’ as part of Doors Open Days

Two people looking inside a box of books, photo taken from inside the box

Historic Environment Scotland is throwing open the doors of the National Record of Scotland this weekend to reveal the hidden gems of Edinburgh’s past. Leith’s Trinity House Maritime Museum will also open its doors as part of the Scottish Civic Trust’s popular Doors Open Days programme, assembled by the Cockburn Association.

Edinburgh residents are invited to John Sinclair House on Saturday 24th September to explore the national records of architecture, design, archaeology and industry. There they will have the chance to see Edinburgh as it has never been seen before with behind the scenes tours, talks and exhibitions.

Highlights include a never before seen exhibition of Edinburgh’s historic cemeteries taken by American art curator Robert Reinhardt, and an exclusive preview of HES’s new Paul Shillabeer collection, which captures Edinburgh in the 1950s and 1960s.

Exclusive talks include ‘Unbuilt Edinburgh’, an opportunity to see how an alternative Edinburgh may have looked. The talk will focus on unbuilt projects for central Edinburgh, starting with designs by Robert Adam in the 1780s’s and travelling through to the present day.

Neil Gregory, Architecture and Industry Operational Manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We’ve been curating the Scottish National Record of the Historic Environment for over a century, and it comprises over 5 million photographs, drawings and manuscripts.

Doors Open Day is a great opportunity for members of the public to come and explore what we’ve got to offer.

This year, we’re excited to be giving people a trip down memory lane to see photographs of how Edinburgh used to look, architectural models that have never before been on public display, as well as talks exploring plans for buildings that never made it from the drawing board to our streets.”

HES are also inviting members of the public to get hands on with history by using and adding to the National Record. Demonstrations of the Scotland’s Places and Scran websites will show visitors resources that they can use when conducting their own historical research, and the team from Scotland’s Urban Past will be on hand with information on how to become an Urban Detective.

Meanwhile in Leith, Trinity House Maritime Museum will also be opening its doors to the public. In its bicentenary year, visitors are invited to gain insight into the stories and voyages of Leith’s seafaring past with self-led tours, object handling sessions, quizzes and a free stained glass craft activity. To mark the Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design, Trinity House will also have a temporary exhibition for visitors to enjoy, exploring 200 years of Leith’s nautical heritage. There will also be opportunities to meet painting conservators and find out more about the work they do to care for HES’s significant collection of paintings.

John Sinclair House is open on Saturday 24th September, 10am - 4.30pm.

Trinity House Maritime Museum is open on Saturday 24 & Sunday 25th September, 10am - 4pm.

For the full programme of buildings opening across Scotland, visit the Doors Open Days website.

A curator in a gallery holding up a picture in a frame

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

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Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory 

Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland @VisitHistoricScotland


For further information, please contact:

Ali George 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8714
Mobile: 07853 018 790