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Capital's Vast Image Collections Go Online

2424 George Foulkes Choice Aburstwaterpipeinthelawnmarket.jpg Rory Bremner and Kirsty Balfour are among the prominent people with Edinburgh connections who are helping to launch the city's new online image archive -

They have chosen their favourite images from thousands of photographs, prints, watercolours, etchings and engravings depicting Edinburgh which are being digitised and put online by the City of Edinburgh Council's Library Service.

The site which is part funded by Edinburgh World Heritage will be launched with a free exhibition opening 28th February at the Central Library showing images selected by Balfour, Bremner and others.

The website includes examples of the work of the pioneers of Scottish photography David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson and works by Thomas Begbie, Archibald Burns, Walter Geikie. Initially focusing on the collection's unique record of Edinburgh's past and present, the site will eventually include images of the whole of Scotland with many thousands of images set to go online in the future.

City Libraries Leader Cllr. Deidre Brock said:

"With a focus on Edinburgh's social history and architecture, Capital Collections can help people from all over the world research family roots, learn about Edinburgh's history and maybe even unlock some hidden secrets of the past.

"This is a fantastic example of how Edinburgh's libraries service is modernising. We are about much more than just borrowing books - we are opening up and developing our resources in an innovative way to reach out to customers and to the wider world."

Contributors to the Capital Collections exhibition have talked about their links to the city and Impressionist Rory Bremner who chose a view of the city from Calton Hill looking west by Mary Elton said:

"This lithograph from 1822 shows better than most the contrast between the crowded, haphazard old town on the left and the regimented order of the New Town on the right. The old town is shrouded in the smoke which earned Edinburgh the nickname ‘Auld Reekie', while elegant ladies and gentlemen take the air on Calton Hill."

Sandy Crombie, CE of Standard Life, selected a view of the Scottish Parliament, the Old Royal High School Building and Calton Hill by Kevin MacLean. He said:

"This picture has so much to say. Architecture, education and Government help define our city. Here we have Playfair's partially completed, Parthenon-like monument to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars, Thomas Hamilton's Royal High School of Edinburgh, with its columns inspired by the Temple of Theseus and Miralles' home for the Scottish Government, one of the most innovative designs of its time."

Commonwealth Games swimming medallist Kirsty Balfour chose photograph of Warrender Park Swimming Baths dating from 1888. She said:

"One of my earliest memories of swimming is at Warrender Baths Swimming Pool. My parents used to take me there every weekend. I spent most of the time under the water watching the sunlight as it made pretty patterns on the tiled floor of the pool."

Edinburgh's Lord Provost George Grubb picked out an image of St Giles Cathedral from circa 1850 and said:

"An obvious choice for a retired minister. St Giles' plays an important part in the life of the city and the local community. This popular tourist attraction embodies much of the city's turbulent past, yet it remains a living building, a working church for the people of Edinburgh, and the location for many civic services which I attend as Lord Provost."

Capital Collections currently holds 1000 images but will be grown and developed in coming years with staff drawing from the Libraries Service's collection which is 100,000 images strong. Each image has a description, is indexed and has additional historical or background information which allows users to easily search for images.

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