2014 will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. This promises to be a time of major national commemoration and reflection.
In preparation for this event, Midlothian Library Service and Archives has started a major research project about the local area and the war.
The research project has two aims:
- To record all First World War memorials in the Midlothian area.
- To research the individuals named on memorials with the aim of creating a Roll of Honour for Midlothian.
The First World War had an enormous impact on Midlothian. Almost every family was affected in some way and many local men and women lost their lives.
Both during and after the War, numerous memorials were raised to commemorate local loss. Some of these are well known local landmarks, such as the memorial in Dalkeith Public Park which lists over 170 names.
There were also many smaller and less well known memorials which were placed in local churches, workplaces, schools and clubs. Over the years, some of these have been moved or destroyed.
Midlothian Library and Archive Service is seeking information on any memorials to the First World War, especially less obvious ones which may be hidden away in buildings. Some people appear on more than one memorial whilst others were never recorded although their deaths were mentioned in local newspapers. The names listed on memorials will be added to our database of Midlothian casualties.
Already we have recorded over 60 memorials in Midlothian and over 1800 names have been added to our database. We have rescued one memorial from destruction and plan to have it re-sited in the near future. We are also on the trail of several others memorials that have gone missing, including the Dalkeith High School memorial, the Penicuik Free Gardeners memorial and a framed series of photographs of Bonnyrigg soldiers.
The database will become a great resource for family history and also will help to preserve memories of the fallen.
The Library Service has produced a leaflet listing town and parish war memorials in Midlothian. Copies are available free of charge at local libraries.
Midlothian Councillor Peter Boyes said: ‘I hope that local people will support this project. The Library Service recently restored the Midlothian County Council war memorial. Originally, it hung in the Council Chambers in Edinburgh, but was put away for many years when the building closed. The memorial has been re-erected in Midlothian House, Dalkeith where it is a striking feature near the Council debating chamber.’
If you know of any First World War memorials in Midlothian, please contact Local Studies on 0131 271 3976 or email email@example.com.