Images of 1950s Glasgow in the National Records of Scotland

Fascinating photos contained within Glasgow Sheriff Court records held by the National Records of Scotland‏.

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Open Book

You might expect the pictures contained within Sheriff court Records to be graphic or disturbing, showing the details of crimes and their victims. Of course, this is often the case – but sometimes the pictures can instead give us a glimpse into social or local history.

In a payment case for damages for injuries occurring in a Glasgow washhouse or ‘steamie’ in 1959 we found this wonderfully candid shot. This photograph provides a snapshot into the working of such a wash house. The large washing machines can be seen in the background, with basins on the right, airing cabinets on the left, and tables for folding in the foreground. It definitely shows what a chore hand washing used to be and how much we take our home washing machines for granted! Such an everyday shot of a very ordinary place would usually not have been a typical subject for a…

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The sad history of the Faculty Mummy (EDIT)

In 2008 I put on a small, internal exhibition at the Faculty of Advocates. The exhibition was based around the unique and wonderful ‘Mummy file’, a collection of letters and newspaper clippings held in the Faculty’s archives.

This file was the result of the huge (and hilarious) interest generated by an article The Scotsman published in May 1958. This is the wonderful story behind the Faculty’s letters…

A Very Fine Library

The Earl of Morton
In the year 1748 James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton, presented an Egyptian mummy to the Faculty of Advocates Library*. It is not known exactly why the Earl chose to bestow this gift but it was duly accepted and “set up in the Library”. The Advocates Library was always more than just a repository for books. From the earliest times Members were collecting artworks and curios as well as books and manuscripts. The Library became something of a museum and guests – such as the English writer Samuel Johnson – were often shown round the exhibits.

No doubt coincidentally, just 18 months after the Mummy had been stowed away among the stacks, the Faculty Records note an application from the Earl of Morton, on behalf of the Philosophical Society, to hold “their monethly meetings in their Library”**

Pharaoh’s Daughter
During its time in the vaults the Faculty Mummy suffered more…

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Order in Council – update


“On the chart accompanying this Order are marked all the limits referred to therein”

My sea chart of the Cromarty Firth arrived in the post this morning – and what a thing of beauty it is! You can’t really tell from this image but the lovely folk at the Privy Council Office have scanned the original in sections then pieced them, almost seamlessly, back together. It is glorious and – as my lovely assistant demonstrates below, quite enormous!

Mo and chart

Mo with the chart

This is why I love these types of enquiries. It’s never just ‘looking stuff up and printing it out’. There’s always some investigation, searching, checking, double checking and – fairly often – some asking for help from another organisation. When I do have to seek assistance, in 90% of cases I encounter friendly, professional and endlessly helpful people who go above and beyond to get me what I need. So I want to say THANK YOU! to Margaret and her colleagues at the PCO. Your beautifully crafted chart has made my day, and I’m sure will make my enquirer very happy too  🙂

Orders in Council, old charts and the PCO

Last week I was asked to locate “the Order in Council dated 19th December 1913 (made pursuant to the Dockyard Ports Regulation Act 1865)” and concerning the Dockyard Port of Cromarty. You know I love these old ones!

Orders in Council are orders which have been personally approved, at a meeting of the Privy Council, by the monarch. If the order had been recent it might have been available via the Privy Council website – but 1913 is not recent (even by our standards).

Orders in Council fall into two broad categories, Statutory and Prerogative:

  • Statutory Orders in Council are issued as Statutory Instruments – they are numbered and are published with other SIs
  • Prerogative Orders are not SIs. They are published in the London Gazette and Edinburgh Gazette.

I had no way of knowing which I was looking for…

I began by checking our holdings of published SIs and our unique collection of local SIs (ones which don’t get re-printed). I did find a reference to the Order in Council in the back of the published volume but there was no detail there. Next, I checked online and quickly found what I wanted in the Edinburgh Gazette.

So far, so disappointingly easy.

However, my enquirer soon got back to me. The Order in Council stated:

On the chart accompanying this Order are marked all the limits referred to therein.

“On the chart”? There was no chart reproduced in the Edinburgh Gazette. I had a quick check in the National Records of Scotland online catalogue but they don’t seem to hold anything on this Order. I decided to try contacting the Privy Council Office – the first time I’ve done so. I emailed and explained my request. Today I got a lovely wee message back:

We have searched our archive records and managed to find a copy of the chart. Unfortunately it is extremely large – much too big  for our copier and scanner.

Therefore we have done a ‘cut and paste’ job and I am putting a paper copy in the post to you.

Best regards…

I fervently hope any cutting was only figurative in nature. I would hate to be in anyway connected to the disassembly of a 102 year old sea chart…

Anyway, after a wee bit of treasure-hunting and the help of the friendly folk at the PCO, my patchwork chart is in the post it seems. I really do love these old ones  🙂