Mystery School Photographs

Mystery School Photograph One

Mystery School Photograph One








Recently Midlothian Local and Family History Library received a donation of five photographs of school pupils and staff.

The photographs are sepia-toned and mounted on card. Our best guess is that they date c.1940.

Unfortunately we do not know anything about them.

Can you please help? Does anybody recognise the school, the uniform or any of the pupils?

Please let us know.

School Photograph Two

Mystery School Photograph Two








School Photograph Three

Mystery School Photograph Three








Mystery School Photograph Four

Mystery School Photograph Four








Mystery School Photograph Five

Mystery School Photograph Five

When Bowie played Bonnyrigg

Bonnyrigg Two 001




We are all saddened to hear of the death of David Bowie last week. Who would have guessed that Bowie once played a gig in Bonnyrigg? This small article from the Dalkeith Advertiser shows that he appeared at the Bonnyrigg Regal on Friday 7 November 1969. Does anybody remember the event? Please let us know.


Apparently Bowie may only have turned-up in Bonnyrigg but inadvertently missed his gig. He did have a Fray Bentos pie though. Please see this link:

The Regal, Bonnyrigg (building on the right opposite the BP Garage)

The Regal, Bonnyrigg (building on the right opposite the BP Garage)


“The Lobster”

Edinburgh City Archives, like other similar institutions, collects a wide range of historical material relating to the City and the area in general. Much of this, like the minutes and agendas of the Council and its committees besides similar records from other business organisations deal with serious matters which affect many people’s life and work. But occasionally we are given records relating to the lighter, perhaps more frivolous or even humorous side of life here and the ‘Lobster’ was one such organisation.
It appears to have begun as a very informal congregation of Royal Bank of Scotland employees – all men – who clearly liked to eat and drink well and funded it all by betting on a wide diversity of wagers. Their founding principles, as can be seen from the image here, were set down in verse and were to be sung to the tune of “Miss Baillie”.
The foregoing Claws,
Beginning quite gaily,
Made the following Laws
To the tune of “Miss Baillie”


1st verse
All Claws who take a bet,
Or to gaming feel their nob stir,
Must pay all moneys over nett,
To the Treasurer of the Lobster

2nd verse

If gainers don’t advise the Clerk
Their gains – They get a milling.
And here ‘tis proper to remark
No bet exceeds One Shilling.


Oh! The Lobster!
The Lobster Laws!
Oh! The Lobster!
The Buckies & the Claws!

As an illustration of their epicurean leanings a minute of a meeting held on the 29 May 1823 at Leith Golf House noted that since last meeting ‘Claw J.P.’ had tied the knot and to celebrate had written to the Treasurer of the Lobster as follows:



To save the Lobster the time and trouble of a Vote – put me down for a Magnum of Claret.

Claw P.


The other “Claws” were understandably extremely pleased not only to learn of his good news but perhaps even more so with the prospect of drinking a toast or two to the newly-married couple.

This small minute book was kept for several years being filled with similarly inconsequential and amusing notes together with accounts of their ill gotten gains and expenditure until the early 1830s.  The last entry of 1831 noted that another club, based on similar principles to the “Lobster” was to be formed in London and called the “Scraper” – nothing more than this was written of it.

The adventures of James Spittal…journey’s end

It is time to say goodbye to James Spittal and his adventures through parts of Europe in 1815! He has given us a fantastic insight into countries, cultures and battle weary landscapes which are impossible to witness in full today some 200 years later.

Here is his last entry in his amazing diary, when he is back in the United Kingdom and looking for one last adventure…

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JS 43c 23 Oct JS 44 23 Oct JS end page

23 October

Next morning (23) went & viewed Dover Castle & all the fortifications.  In the forenoon Bonaparte’s carriage was landed on the shore and the officer who brought it was kind enough show both inside & out to the public – it is the most complete thing of the kind I ever saw, containing every article in the interior for use, so that he could live in it in any country (when travelling) with every convenience.  About 3 o’clock we saw also the Archdukes John and Louis of Austria & Switland [Switzerland], they were received by a Royal Salute from the Castle.  At 4 o’clock set out for London & arrived at the London Coffeehouse at 8 next morning……..

We hope you have enjoyed this diary series, and come back to the site regularly to see what else is new in the archives!

The adventures of James Spittal…Bonaparte’s carriage

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JS 42c 21&22 Oct JS 43a 21&22 Oct JS 43b 21&22 Oct

21 & 22 October

[Next morning] from thence we passed through Bolougne [Boulogne] about 1 o’clock in the morning – while some of the passengers were regaling themselves with soup Mr G and I went & viewed Bolougne harbour which appears extremely capacious indeed. At 7 we arrived in Calais 20 Oct [this must be a mistake as he arrived on 21st] immediately ordered breakfast & while sitting down to it the alarm was given that the young gentleman who before had refused to come with us had been attempting to throw himself in the harbour – fortunately there was no water but he meant to die in the mud for on being observed by two sailors who jumped in he layed himself down to chock [secure himself] and it was with some difficulty they saved him – he was brought to the Inn.  An awful spectacle he was put to bed and a surgeon sent for with whom he was left in charge – his name we found to be Robertson from Woolwich. At ½ past one we sailed from Calais – before embarking we saw Bonaparte’s carriage and 4 horses which carried him to Waterloo and which were taken from him during the engagement, embarking in the King’s packet for England as a present to the Prince of Wales.  We arrived at Dover at 9 at night had rather a rough passage the sea running high and the vessel being quite small.  I however stood it out till just before leaving the vessel became rather squeamish.  We came on shore in a pilot boat & went to the Ship Inn where we slept.

The adventures of James Spittal…King of Bohemia

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JS 41c 20 Oct JS 42a 20 Oct

Friday 20 October

The next place of consequence we came to was Abbeville about 12 o’clock. There is also a great cathedral in this city which we went & visited it is very extensive. There the devotees were at worship and candles burning in all quarters of the church – the images of our saviour and the Virgin Mary were very luminous. Arrived at Montreal [Montreuil] in the evening a place so strongly fortified as to be deemed impregnable. There one of our passengers a young gentleman [who appear to be] an English Officer returning to his relations a little out of his mind went into a public house from which he would not move until drawn out by main force, we got him into his seat & then went on. Arriving at this place we passed the field of Cresy [Crecy] where Edward the black Prince defeated the French and Bohemian troops & it was there the King of Bohemia fell and his helmet was presented to Edward in which there was a plume of 13 white feathers and the motto “Ich Dien” which he as Prince of Wales adapted and is still continued by his successors.

The adventures of James Spittal…St Denis

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JS 40b 19 Oct JS 40c 19 Oct JS 41a 19 Oct JS 41b 19 Oct

19 October

Set out thing morning as ten from Paris – passing through St Denis called for Capt. Thomson but did not find him at home. At the end of the town where the bridge had been blown down to prevent the approach of the allies in 1814 and where a temporary wooden bridge is erected in its stead – a wagon with charcoal passing, one of its wheels sunk into a rut and out of it it could not be removed for a half hour. In the mean time we were waiting and all the carriages, carts, wagons etc for a considerable extent were heaped together at both ends of the bridge.  Betwixt Paris and St Denis a great battle was fought last year by the allies previous to their entry to the Capital.  In consequence of this were entirely deserted and most of the garden walls were perforated where the Army had shot through, passing from thence the first great town we arrived as was Amiens at five in the morning. This City is famous for the Peace which was there ratified in 1802 – at this place there is an ancient & extensive cathedral – a guide was in attendance on the Coach at that early hour to show it. We walked to it although in the dark and saw it by candlelight.

We are nearing the end of James’ travels, but come back tomorrow to see where he visits on his route back towards the Channel…

The adventures of James Spittal…Vaudeville

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JS 39 18 Oct JS 40a 18 Oct

Wednesday 18 October

Having appointed Leut. Alexander Henderson to breakfast with me and spend the day, I accordingly parted with Mr Gilchrist early in the morning – waited at the Hotel all day for Mr H – about 2 o’clock a message came by his servant that he could not come because  of a Review which has just then been finished. The servant not wanting any answer but merely mentioned that Mr H would see me tomorrow. I had no alternative I was anxious to see Mr H and being then upon the wide world without an interpreter I resolved at once to hire a carriage which I did and set off immediately to Asniers to Mr H’s lodgings a distance of six miles – to my great mortification he was not at home, a brother officer just arrived who informed me he supposed Mr H had gone to Paris. I thought then of going to St Denis about three miles distant to see Capt. Jas. Thomson Dr Thomsons son but fearing Mr H had rode to Paris for the purpose of calling on me I returned instantly to inquire after him and before leaving his lodgings I left word with his neighbour officer that I was gone to my Hotel and that I would wait for him there till 6 or 7 o’clock at night and that I was to leave town in the morning for London. But Mr H never made his appearance nor no message from him again whatever consequently this day was completely lost which I regretted much as I still had reserved a great many things to see. Went to the theatre Vaudville about 7 but being so disappointed at losing the day I could not enjoy it therefore came home and went to bed.

The adventures of James Spittal…Duke of Wellington

(Full transcription below diary images)

JS 34b 17 Oct JS 34c 17 Oct JS 35 17 Oct JS 36 17 Oct JS 37 17 Oct JS 38 17 Oct

Tuesday 17 October

Breakfasted early and set out to meet Mr & Mrs Paterson by appointment at the Catacombs – we could not however be admitted till near twelve o’clock – meantime returned to the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb which was open to public inspection on this day at 11. When admitted about ten of the pupils were in a small room for the purpose of exhibiting their lessons. They showed several specimens in writing on a large board subjects which occurred to themselves, and also what the master desired them to do. One of them was desired to read what was wrote which he did articulating pretty freely. Returning again to the Catacombs we were admitted in company with about fifteen persons, we had all wax tapers in our hands and descending by 80 steps a small winding stair we at last reached the bottom.  These catacombs as they are called resemble exactly coal mines – running in all directions under ground for several miles. It is from thence the stone which built the city of Paris is taken and has been open about 800 years. What renders it at present a place of public notoriety is it being the receptacle of the bones of the dead – about 30 years ago the parliament of Paris resolved that all burials should take place in an enclosure in the fields and the church yards from that time have been done away with in the City. The bones therefore being dug up were sent from all quarters to be deposited in the quarry& being arranged in regular order & separate cells most uniformly & curiously interspersed in divisions it from that period was denominated the Catacombs. One pile contains upwards of two millions of sculls – there are two million four hundred thousand sculls in all besides great quantities sent in lying not yet arranged, and the rest are thigh and arm bones etc. In this very place there is a fountain or well with a gold fish in it and there is also a place like a small chapel with an alter at which devotees must have worshipped in the Early ages. From the catacombs we drove on to the Gobelin Tapestry – this is a Royal Manufacturer of Tapestry of the most superb description where we saw in progress webs of the most elegant and superb designs, every figure and every shade of colour the painter can exhibit on canvass is there produced on cloth to the most delicate tint. This certainly exceeded all the manufactories that ever I witnessed in splendour and magnificence. From thence we went to:

The Garden of Plants

This is also a Royal establishment there we saw plants of every description and beasts of various denominations from the Elephant down to the smaller animals – many fine Lions, Bears, Dromedary Camels etc etc.  Returned to my hotel to meet Mr Dutaillie who was to meet me at two clock  – being very wet the rain having continued for some time the coaches and cabualets were all engaged so that I had to walk a distance of about 2 miles in the rain without an umbrella and find the road home the best way I could. This day at five o’clock I went to a Restorateurs to dine by myself, the dinner consisted of a very nice beef steak, Potatoes, Salad, Bread, ½ bottle Burgundy, desert of grapes, Glass of Brandy: which cost 2 franks 8 sovs. equal to 2/ ste[rlin’g

Went afterwards to the Opera one of the most elegant theatres in Paris. I went in to the Pit and immediately opposite in the stage box sat Duke Wellington. It was by mere accident I discovered him having conversed with some English officers in a coffeehouse a few days before, they had informed me it was likely I should see him in some of the theatres, but that he was generally in plain cloths. Knowing that and being a little familiar with his countenance from seeing it so often in paintings I immediately recognised him in the midst of a parity. To be certain I put the question to a gentleman who was sitting by me who told me I was quite right.  From that moment instead of the Opera my mind was quite engrossed in him. Reflecting on the man who first showed the way to Conquer and to baffle the hopes and expectations of Buonaparte – who had conquered every where he went in Portugal and Spain, who drove the French Armies from thence into the heart of their own territory and who was the means of restoring in 1814 power to bleeding Europe and America, who was Ambassador to the French Court on the recall of the Bourbons, who during the rebellion of the present year was appointed Generalissimo of the Allied troops – who in the field of Waterloo gave a death blow to the hopes and expectations of the Usurper and his adherents, and having been the means of once more placing the Bourbons on the throne of France remains as a triumphiant Victor with the Command of the Allied Armies in the Capital of that Kingdom.

The adventures of James Spittal…National Institute

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JS 33c 16 Oct JS 34a 16 Oct

Monday 16 October

Having obtained our passports from the Minister of Police, went and took our places in the coach for London for this Thursday morning following. Afterwards proceeded to the warehouses of some wholesale dealers in Laces and Cambries but did not purchase. Went also in search of handsome musical watches of which I purchased one for 25 Louis D’ors. Visited the national Institute celebrated for models of Architecture, Sculpture and painting, saw a great many models of Antient, Grecian and Roman Temples etc. In the evening made some small purchases and went to my hotel.

Tomorrow proves to be a very eventful day for James so make sure you come back to read all about it…