Another busy year has passed…

Another busy year has gone by so quickly at the Wee Museum of Memory/The Living Memory Association. Although the Wee Hub (Debenhams version) has closed, we will be managing some smaller units in the centre to provide hubs and space for artists, dancers, and children. These units need to be cleaned and prepared and made safe for users and public so they are not quite ready yet – but please do watch this space or contact us for further information. Caroline has again taken point with organising the new area and, although we have all had a wee turn at cleaning, our volunteer David merits a special thanks for all his hard work.

The Wee Museum remains in situ on the second floor beside Britannia but will move to another unit at some point in 2024 – we do not know where or when as yet. Packing up, moving and then unpacking and setting out in a new space will be interesting and challenging but the move should give us the opportunity to review the layout, as well as selecting what objects and materials will be included in the displays. Naomi will keep us organised with how we approach this slightly daunting task. We obviously aim to maintain a welcoming venue that visitors will continue to find interesting and engaging, as well as memory provoking, wherever we are located.

Wee Museum of Memory – still next to Britannia.

Throughout this year we have had a very varied diet of events and projects. John and Joyce have held regular drop-in sessions. John held reminiscence sessions on Tuesday afternoons, and Joyce’s Thursday morning activity group combined reminiscence with crafts, art, exercises, singing, slide shows, music, circus skills, and customs and traditions. They both also took sessions for visiting groups from a variety of organisatiobusy ns including: Wardie Gentle Walking group, Pilmeny Older People’s group, Healthy Together, Rotary Club Dalkeith, Beacon Club, Pilmeny Development Group, Portobello Older People’s Project, St Anne’s Care Home, International Women’s Group, and Friendship Group.

The extended and improved memory boxes have proved popular and are being borrowed on a regular basis. The School Bag remains the most popular, and has been used in some schools as well as other community groups. The bags and boxes have been used by different groups including: Celtic FC Foundation, Heart of Newhaven, and Pilmeny Ladies Club.

The studio has been well used by Barry and Russell recording and editing podcasts. Conor, our musician summer intern, also re-edited some earlier podcasts, demonstrating great technical, as well as composing, skills. Raj has been in recording and editing Sikh Stories, and Barry has mentored and trained the Nkula Health project to record and edit their reminiscences. He has also spearheaded our increased social media presence with Facebook posts and short Tiktok videos featuring some staff and a few of our regular volunteers: there has been some friendly rivalry over the numbers of viewers each video gets but there is no doubt Sofia and Stuart are top of the league.

Russell has been busy interviewing and recording, doing outreach talks and creating an engaging display in the ‘Away for the Messages’ unit. There are plans afoot to do more work on the inside area and recreate a ‘shop-like’ environment, so there will be plenty to see on the ground floor.

We are grateful to have had regular help from a range of volunteers over the year, with a few being mentored by Naomi and Russell to help with collection management or displays. Although some have finished their time with us and returned to university, we hope that more recent volunteers continue to show interest in helping at LMA/Wee Museum of Memory and our projects.

David has maintained the photo archive, updating information on existing images and entering new donations. He’s also extremely handy at moving shelving units and other bits of furniture. The Wee Hub booking calendar and weekly What’s On programme was co-ordinated and produced by Delphine.This was quite a feat of timetabling and patience, so a massive thank you to her and hope she enjoys a well-deserved quietish month or two.

Beside us all is, of course, Heather who was also very involved with overseeing the events and programme at the Wee Hub. With Caroline, she is currently negotiating access to, and use of, the new wee Wee Hub at Wagamama as well as the the Wee Play Hub in what was French Connection, so no rest there yet. And of course, throughout the year Heather and other staff have been completing many, many grant applications in order to fund our various projects so that the Living Memory Association can continue reminiscing with visitors. It’s been a busy year right enough.

Here’s to more in 2024!

A new chapter for The Wee Hub

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I wrote a blog announcing we would be managing the empty Debenham’s as a community art and heritage space. What a lot has happened since January 2022!

The Wee Hub will be closing its doors at its current location on
October 27th 2023, but we will definitely be back!
Thanks to the fantastic support of Ocean Terminal, The Wee Hub is on the move.

Entrance to The Wee Hub

When the idea was first proposed it had only a vague shape or concept, nothing was set in concrete – apart from the basic building. Many voices threw around ideas and questions about how to use the space, what kind of tenants or users might want to be involved, how would we manage and administer the overall project? Art and artists, music and musicians, children’s playareas, heritage and history…all kinds of everything but where to start? At the beginning there was a lot of clearing to be done before it could be used by visitors and other groups. Hard graft put in by the initial team, and it was all hands on deck to shift units and other furnishings, painting and reconfiguring. We had some Kickstarter-funded young people to help help create a lively welcoming atmosphere in what was initially a huge, sad and abandoned shop.

Emptying the activity area.

Some of the organisations who arrived in the early months remained with us to the end: Salle Holyrood Fencing, Tinderbox, Thistle Model Railway, Pianodrome, and Think Circus. These groups have held events and workshops, and put on performances. We have had dance classes – line dancing was a hit with David and Delphine – and dance displays. Circus skills sessions with spinning plates and hoola hoops were popular on Friday afternoons with visitors, both young and old(er). Classes to learn English were attended by some of the Ukrainians who were housed on the ship after the Russian invasion. Although no longer living on the ship, the Ukrainians have continued to use the Hub and held a national celebration day and ran a kids’ summer club. The children’s play area – The Wee Hoppers – has always been popular with parents and children; a safe indoor place to run around, play with bikes and trikes, exploring the pirate ship and generally making a lot of noise.

The play area.

There was a whole community of mannequins left behind once Debenhams left and the offer to pick one to decorate or dress was taken up by nursery groups, individuals, and other groups, including the Edinburgh Festival Carnival whose mannequins were dressed in amazing costumes featuring vast amounts of feathers and sparkles!

There were still a lot of mannequins hiding in the store rooms.

The Wee Hub has seen performances of music and drama: Forth Children’s Theatre put on a panto, The Claremont Players entertained us with music, visitors would give us a tune on one of the pianos or accordions, and in The Wee Hub record spot anyone could pick a 45 or 33 record from the selection and play it was all to hear.

Art and artists have also been a regular feature in the Hub. Photographs of conflict in Ukraine to photos taken by Musselburgh Camera Club. Paintings and drawings produced by, amongst several, Hannah, Ewan, and Delphine. Alan Abstract, recycling plastic found in the store rooms, has created an amazing range of work. He has held workshops both in the Hub and with our Thursday activity group, and has now started exhibiting his work elsewhere. David, another artist working with recycled materials, created a short film ‘Metamorphosis’ about the Hub showing how it evolved from a vacant shell into a vibrant hub. Kerry has worked with textiles and her crochet class will migrate up to the Wee Museum.

Brian Picasso-inspired work.

Brian has displayed his many Picasso inspired paintings and lots of visitors and regulars designed and painted the ceiling tiles as part of our farewell to The Wee Hub. These colourful, daft, weird, thoughtful, delightful, wild, crazy, brilliant, abstract, clever, unique squares are a metaphor for the crazy, wild project that is The Wee Hub. An amazing and exciting community project that has offered a safe space and opportunity to do lots of things…and make lots of memories.

A view of the crazy ceiling tiles.

We can’t wait to welcome you back soon in our new space! You will find us on the second floor in the former Wagamama restaurant space. We’ll resume our weekly programme of activities in the coming months.

We know how much the children’s play area meant to many of you. We are working on recreating that beloved space in a new unit within the centre.

Thank you for being a part of The Wee Hub community, and stay tuned for more updates!

‘Away for the messages’

Good news…

We have started a new reminiscence project about shopping and retail. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project focuses on memories about, and the changing nature and use of retail space in, Edinburgh and beyond. For the next eighteenth months, Russell and Heather will be gathering memories, experiences, photographs and objects related to different shops and retail outlets.

Based in the ground floor at Ocean Terminal, the longer-term plan is to re-create an old-fashioned shop – complete with counters and shelves, and scales for weighing shopping. If anyone has an old till they are not using, we would love to borrow it. This space will welcome visitors of all ages to pop in, and reminisce and interact with the displays. Russell hopes that children will be encouraged to use the scales to work out how much potatoes weigh – or learn how to flip a paper poke containing sweeties!

Currently the space is open and displaying some of the material that we already had in our photo archive and collections. Maybe you recognise some of these images? Maybe you worked as a delivery boy like this lad below from 1960? Or maybe you got deliveries from the butcher this way?

Boy delivering watering cans, 1960.

Do you remember going to get your messages from a provisions shop like this one on Marchmont Road? The photo is from 1925, and the shop assistant is very formal in his attire, with his buttoned-up tan coat (probably made of heavy duty cotton) and collar and tie. The customer looks as if he might be purchasing some Melrose’s tea – as there appears to be plenty of promotional advertising for this beverage.

Provision merchant, Marchmont Road, 1925.

This photo of Meyer’s shop and bar, on Iona Street, from 1923 shows the family shop stocked a ‘high class’ food stuff, certainly one that might appeal to younger customers: Cadbury’s and Fry’s chocolate. Judging by the large jars in the window they likely sold other confectionary as well – boilings, rock, bonbons, licorice etc – which could be purchased by weight. Perhaps they also had the option of choosing a certain number of sweets for a ha-penny or penny, which was very popular with children when they wanted to spend their pocket money? Penny Dainties, Fruit Salad, LuckyPotatoes, Flying Saucers, Toffee Doddles, Rhubard Rock, Raspberry Ripples…what was your favourite? Again the shop owners/assistants are wearing aprons and shirt and ties.

Russell has been collecting new images and memories from visitors and through social media, so our shop-related collection is growing.

Grocer at shop window, c. 1975.

Some of our followers on social media identified this shop as being located at 23 Cadzow Place and the proprietor as A. Berger. It was a ‘Wholesale and Retail Fruit Merchants and Confectioners’ and the shop advertised itself as being ‘The Jaffa King’. This grocer’s shop appears to stock a wide range of fresh fruit and veg – Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, and potatoes are priced in the window, and he is holding a cawliflower – as well as plenty tinned goods. In the window you can spot several varieties of Heinz goods, a tin of haggis, as well as cans of Lilt (The Totally Tropical Taste), Fanta, CocaCola and Cariba (Pineapple and Grapefruit?).

JA Nisbet, Glass and China shop, 1970.

This photo shows Herbert Nisbet and his daughter June, in 1970, outside their shop JA Nisbet, Glass & China merchants at 75a George Street.  You can see a sign in the window advising about them moving to Rose Street. Russell’s interview with June about Nisbet’s, will be included in one of our future podcasts.

A ‘self-service’ St. Cuthbert’s Association Store on Nicolson Street, (undated).

No project about shopping would be complete without memories about the co-op. Whether you remember St Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh, The Provident in Leith, or ELCO in East Lothian, the co-operative movement has had a huge impact on retail trends. The co-op was able to supply food and services from the cradle to the grave. Clothes – especially school uniforms – furniture, electrical goods, linens, butcher, baker – maybe even candlestick maker – fruit, veg, dairy, right through to funeral services, the co-op was the go-to for many families. The divi that was added to the member’s book with every purchase was a convenient way of saving a few extra pennies or pounds. Who remembers their mum’s divi number? Many of our visitors are able to recite this number straight off with little promting.

The picture of the St Cuthbert’s on Nicolson Street, shows the shift from being served by the shop assistant from behind the counter to self service, where the customer would take their purchases straight from the shelves and pay for it all at the check-out. The staff are still all dressed in quite formal white uniform coats. From this picture it looks as if the till operators were female and the men were in more of a supervisory role, which might well have been the case in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Self-service shops were introduced by St Cuthbert’s around 1958 and, of course, are very recognisable to today’s shoppers.

Russell has already interviewed a number of visitors to the unit and has put together the first of ‘Away for the Messages’ podcasts. It can be listened to using this link

If you have any memories, photos or other material about shops and shopping that you would like to share pop in to any of our units at OT or email us:

Memories for handling…

Hello…it’s been a while since I updated the TheLMA blog although there’s been a lot happening. We have continued to welcome hundreds of visitors to our various units in Ocean Terminal and at Livingston. The Wee Hub and the Wee Museum have been especially busy with lots of different activities and groups. The Spirit of Leithers exhibition has closed (although the Goad Map project web pages can be explored in the Wee Museum). The unit will be put to good use as our latest reminiscence project – Away for the Messages – will be based on the ground floor. Project worker Russell and Heather plan to set out the space as a vintage shop! So watch out for further news and developments about this over the next few months…

Memory boxes

One of the unigue features of the Wee Museum is the freedom for visitors to interact with our collection and displays – visitors can pick up, examine, demonstrate, explain and share their memories prompted by objects. We also use lots of our objects in reminiscence groups at the Wee Museum, as handling, touching and feeling can stimulate memories – even for those who may have issues with memory, vision or communication. Over the years we put together boxes of objects and images for groups and organisations to borrow for use in their own reminiscence sessions.

Memory boxes and bags

Unfortunately we managed to lose track of a few of our memory boxes since 2020. These may have been lent out before Covid – or possibly during the years of restricted access and Lockdowns when messages or contact details were misplaced. We have tightened up our record keeping and now have a better system – not before time! The ‘lost’ boxes included the holiday case, men’s box, baby bath and Wartime kit bag. However we were fortunate to be given a donation of a number of reminiscence handling boxes from the Prentice Centre in Granton, which sadly had to close – it will be missed by the community. This was very timely as we needed to review our remaining boxes. We’ve have reused some of the Prentice Centre boxes to replace a few of our missing ones and have also put together new ones. We now have a improved selection of boxes, bags, cases and baskets available to borrow.

The revised selection includes: Ladies’ Vanity bag, Health and Wellbeing Doctor’s bag, Men’s, Childhood, Cooking and Cleaning, Leisure and Recreation, Travel and Transport. The project is not quite complete as we still have to check and update the Edinburgh, School Days and Going Out boxes but these will soon be ready. If you would like to borrow any of these get in touch by email: – we look forward to hearing from you!

Christmas Greetings – what have we been doing in the Wee Museum?

Well we have nearly reached the end of another year and what a year we have had. The Wee Museum of Memory has continued to flourish, welcoming thousands of visitors each week, either locals who pop in regularly to tourists from other parts of the globe.

A regular feature has been the Thursday morning activity group. This started out as a knitting session in 2022 after the December 2021 Lockdown and our plan was to knit squares to make a Wee Museum of Memory blanket. We have not quite managed to finish this off as other activities took over but hopefully we’ll fit in a few ‘knitting and nattering’ sessions in 2023. The group is a mix of some older visitors, but also some new folk who just popped in one day but have now become regulars. Some of the group do have dementia but as a mixed group it is open to anyone.

Once we abandoned the idea of just knitting, we started trying a range of activities: from mannequin decorating and card making, to singing sessions and circus skills. These have all been stimulating and fun; we have learnt new skills and kept our minds busy. Dot led us making cards, Delphine helped us create Origami cranes, Caroline has led us through gentle exercise sessions, and Kat helped us release our inner circus performers and taught us juggling and plate spinning. We decorated two mannequins – and created characters and back stories for Madeleine and Harry! Every month we had a different themed singing sessions: from Scottish and First World War songs to love songs and old-fashoned music hall ones.

Making Origami cranes helped by Delphine.
Plate spinning led by Kat.
Madeleine the mannequin.

We did some sketching, some creative ‘poetry’, discussed our favourite Scottish dialect words (and learnt some new African phrases), played competitive games of Beetle and Christmas bingo, created collages in bowls and Christmas tea-light holders from old jam jars.

Our personality poems.
May’s sketch.
Making Christmas tea-light holders.

These Thursday sessions have been great fun and we have learnt a lot about each other through a combination of the activities and reminiscing. Although we have had a few traditional reminiscence sessions using images or video clips from TV or films, we have reminisced as we have been doing other things – with laughs and fun at the same time. We hope to have a few more ‘guest’ leaders with more circus skills and art and crafting sessions next year but also carry on with some simple crafting sessions – as well as attempting to complete the knitted blanket. A very big thank you to all of those who have come along either to lead a session or to take part.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year and we would love to see you at our Thursday group. We start up again on Thursay 19th January 2023, 11.00 in the Wee Museum when we will chat and plan our programme. Come along and join us, bring your ideas and suggestions!

From Leith to Livingston

Although we are based in Edinburgh, we are not only an Edinburgh-focused organisation. In fact most of our collections – objects and memorabilia, photos, reminiscence recordings – contain material that resonates with people from all the ‘airts and pairts’. From Leith to Morningside, from Dundee to Musselburgh, from Glasgow to Manchester, and even further afield. For many of those who work at The Wee Museum and our visitors, our home lives, school lives, and work lives have more in common than we might at first think.

However, there are also location specific experiences that may be particularly unique to an area or community. LMA have worked with a number of local projects over the years, including Gala Days and Brass Bands in West Lothian. As well as The Wee Museum we have The Wee Hub in Ocean Terminal, but we are also working with Spirit of Leithers on their ‘Leith 1924’ project. Photographs of Leith Streets and those living there taken in 1924, which survived accidentally and have been recently digitised, are the framework and impetus for a project to record memories associated with the streets and digitise more photos of the area.

Cover of LMA/Spirit of Leithers 1924 booklet.
Photos of St Andrew Wynd and detail of Edinburgh (Leith) Improvement Scheme 1924 plans.

Another project we have running is the Wee Museum of Memory in West Lothian. This is based in the Centre, Livingston and the collection displays are similar to our unit in Ocean Terminal, although on a smaller scale. The window displays are often created by a volunteer Cathy, who has been doing this for a number of years. She particularly likes the fashions of the 1950s and 1960s and has often used material from her own collection to supplement objects from the museum.

Window display in Wee Museum of Memory in Livingston.

Other exhibition material at West Lothian varies, and did feature panels from the ‘Strike up the Band’ Brass Band project. Currently the wall exhibition focuses on celebrating the 60th anniversary of the creation of the new town of Livingston. Emma, from West Lothian Museum Services, has been interviewing and recording memories about the early decades of the town – and also the changing look of the shopping centre itself. Some of the panels on display were part of the marketing campaign – Make it in Livingston – that was used to promote businesses in the new town: Cameron Iron, Norville Optical, and Yale etc.

‘Make it in Livingston’ panels.

Part of the marketing scheme was a television advert promoting the benefits of moving to the developing new town. The short film is accompanied by Brass Band music, and some of the memories of being involved in the filming were shared when we were interviewing banders for ‘Strike up the Band’. Although many bands were associated with the older, mining villages, Brass bands are an important cultural influence throughout West Lothian.

Television advert promoting Livingston featuring brass band music.

Enjoy a visit out to West Lothian!

LMA @The Wee Hub

Things are happening @The Wee Hub…For the last few weeks we have been working hard to clear and re-organise what was Debenhams in Ocean Terminal, into a usable space for community and heritage groups, as well as create an interesting venue for visitors of all ages. Our team of hubbers – Miles, Caroline, Lexi, Ewan, Ruth and anyone else who happened to be around at the time to lend a hand at furniture moving, painting, design and printing (a special thanks to Delphine for her signage and design) – have done an amazing job turning what was two very large floors filled with shop fittings and furnishings into manageable and identifiable themed areas and group spaces.

The Wee Library.

The first groups have been in…We are now beginning to open up and welcome groups to the hub. The first groups to use the Wee Hub have been Sikh Sanjog for a book launch; ‘Giraffe about Town’ a studio space where artists are painting giraffes for Edinburgh Zoo’s newest sculpture trail; Pianodrome who are turning old pianos into sculptures and installations, and a crafting workshop with House of Jack.

Over the next few weeks Salle Holyrood Fencing, Thistle Model Railway Makers, Think Circus, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Tinderbox, Citadel Youth, and Street Soccer will be bringing their equipment and setting up their group spaces either on the ground or on the first floor. Newhaven Heritage are also moving into an area near our own Wee Hub Library.

Wee areas…Other sections on the first floor include: a play area and an art area showcasing art work done by David Nicol during lockdowns and also by Ewen one of our young volunteers who is creating his own ‘Superheroes’ Space…

David Nicol’s artwork.
The Wee Hoppers play area.

There is also a dance space – we are hoping to arrange a tea dance soon – as well as for performance: music, singing etc. We have a number of dance outfits from different eras: formal dances in the 1950s, disco numbers from the 1970s and a lycra outfit which was very much the fashion for disco workouts in the 1980s (thank you Caoline!). We are looking for more dance hall fashions – particularly men’s ones – so if you have a Zoot suit or a pair of Oxford Bags hiding away in your attic we would love to dress up a mannequin and add it to the display!

The Wee Theatre and Dance area.

Although the Wee Hub is still in its early days and is still evolving, we are open for visitors to explore the space – as well as see the work being done by groups.

Decorate a Mannequin…There were quite a few naked and abandoned mannequins left in the unit so we would like community groups or individuals to paint, dress or decorate them in any way they want which can be included in our display. Get in touch if you would like to pick up one and let your imagination run free…!

We are open daily, 11.00 to 4.00 pm so pop in and have a look round.

Welcome to the Wee Hub.

Blethers and Biscuits…

Although The Wee Museum of Memory/Living Memory Association was able to open up and welcome visitors once Lockdowns were lifted, it has not been possible – for Covid safety – to have groups in for reminiscence sessions – blethers and biscuits and cups of tea!

However we are delighted to be open for groups again. A group from Pilmeny came along last week, many of whom were Leith born and bred. However even those who were not were able to share memories about doing the washing – or watching their mums do it. A few remembered going to the local Steamies and shared those experiences, as well as debating the relative benefits of carbolic soap, Persil, Dreft or Fairy Snow. Although most of the group were ladies, the couple of men who were present demonstrated how to play the washboard with thimbles. Everyone knew about skiffle music although no-one admitted to being in a band.

Wash day equipment.

Memories about which scone recipe was best, saving money for rent and insurance and getting money back when the man emptied the electric/gas meter were shared, but the final test was a quick check on who remembered their mum’s co-op number – almost all the group did.

Getting the teas and coffees sorted!

Before the group started we were a wee bit anxious about how it would go: would we have forgotten how to reminisce? Our fears were needless as once we managed to sort out all the teas and coffees: milk, no milk, two sugars, no sugar, we were off! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and a big thank you to the Pilmeny group and Mary for coming along.

Who remembers Carbolic Soap?

Today we reintroduced the Melodies and Memories sessions with a selection of familiar tunes from a few popular musicals: My Fair Lady, Oliver, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. It was fun to reminisce about these films as well as share stories about trips to different parts of America. Although it is not ideal singing while wearing a mask, it was therapeutic to breath deeply and sing out loud: no-one cared if you didn’t know the words – or even the tune. We were all laughing and smiling and glad to have been singing about beautiful mornings as the sun shone over the Firth of Forth.

Consider yourself part of the furniture…

Although it was just a small group of some of our regulars for our first session, we look forward to welcoming others next month – new visitors welcome! It will be on Thursday 21 April at 11.00 am.

Oh what a beautiful morning!

If you would like to bring a group for blethers and biscuits – or join in the singing session get it touch:

If it wasn’t for our volunteers…

Where would we be…? This month’s blog celebrates the much-appreciated contribution to the work of Living Memory Association and the Wee Museum of Memory by our volunteers, some of whom have been part of the team for many years.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and experience. They can come along for a couple of hours a week or for a couple of days. Some of our volunteers are retired but they bring to our organisation their life stories and skills. In our current location that can mean a connection with Leith or Newhaven. Whatever their background, they bring their family history or knowledge, as well experiences from their working lives to share with us and our visitors.

Stan and Maureen have been with us since we moved to Ocean Terminal. Both are born and bred in Leith, and they are a source of local knowledge, history and stories. They have contributed to reminiscence sessions and their photos have been donated to our archive and have featured in a number of displays and other projects. But, very importantly, they welcome visitors to the museum and encourage sharing of other people’s memories and reminiscences. Covid, associated restrictions and health issues have meant that neither has been able to help recently, but we hope they will both be back in some capacity soon – even if it is just to visit.

1st Leith Boys’ Brigade camp, 1948 with Stan.
Maureen aged 5.

John is another local volunteer who started with us when we moved into Ocean Terminal. As we are open seven days a week, we do need help to cover weekend days and John comes along on Sundays as our welcomer and guide. His stories and photos have also featured in our reminiscence work, in particular his love of cars and motorbikes.

John on his Lambretta, 1964.

Volunteering tasks can vary depending on personal taste and skills and Mark’s previous work experience with Edinburgh City Libraries means he is a whizz with indexing and cross indexing (by title and artist) and keeping our record index catalogue neat and tidy.

Mark, with Louise and Delphine.

Caroline is a relative newcomer to our team. Her first task was to tidy up the storage of the ever-increasing record collection. This meant she hid out in the dedicated record cupboard with boxes and labels and organised them neatly, sensibly using an A-Z system! Her current task is helping co-ordinate potential users and space in the empty Debenhams. She can be found enthusistically sticking post-it notes onto A1 floor plans and, hopefully, we will see some of these start up properly next month. Look out for model trains, painted giraffes, fencing, Newhaven history, and many others. She is also one of a group of staff and volunteers who are starting inputting data onto our online collections catalogue.

Caroline helping with collections database.

Over the years we have had a number of other volunteers. Donald brought his years of administrative experience and helped organise our filing systems. Jean, who had worked in banking until she retired, helped with the photographic archive and also used her artistic and design skills to produce booklets and displays, as well as the miniature models of the tenement flats, the 1940s house and the pub. These models continue to attract a lot of interest and are regularly tidied up by some of our younger visitors. Stefan and Darren who were in S4, also came in on Fridays and Saturdays for a couple of years. They took on small projects: photographing some of the collection or doing a bit of research. They also did some work in our recording studio.

Evelyn cutting labels for vistor feedback.

However the LMA/Wee Museum of Memory team would not be complete without Evelyn. She has volunteered since we were based in the south side of Edinburgh and has stuck with us, from then until now. She is the epitome of volunteering and helps out with any part of our work: reminiscing with groups of older visitors or school children (she was a teacher), interviewing, proof reading booklets (she is a harsh marker when it comes to commas), making tea, cutting up paper, collating feedback and anything that needs done. Since Covid she has posted photos from our archive on our FB page on a daily basis: the comments these generate have been used in our themed newsletters which have been going out to carehomes.

For everyone who works or volunteers at the Wee Museum, a cheery face to welcome and engage visitors, flexibility, and a very good sense of humour, are crucial to working at the Wee Museum of Memory. If you think you might fit in then do get in touch.

Some of our staff and volunteers making music with bits and pieces.

It’s 2022 and there’s lots to do!

Exciting news for LMA/Wee Museum of Memory, Ocean Terminal and the local community…

We can confirm that LMA will be running the empty Debenhams unit as a Community Heritage and Culture Hub. The unit is very big – two large floors and a restaurant area – so we hope that it will provide space and opportunities for a whole range of community activities.

This once was Debenhams.

When we sat down to discuss the possibilities our list grew quickly… At the moment we plan to use the ground floor as a heritage centre for Leith, working with Spirit of Leithers to expand their displays and organising themed areas for people to sit and watch films or slide shows about local history. Over the coming months we would love to work with any Leith-based group: perhaps art projects painting scenes of Leith streets on the walls or exhibitions by any community/culture groups in Leith. Even as a starting point for guided tours of Leith…

Ground Floor – Leith Heritage area.

We intend the upper level to be less Leith focused and available for any groups who need space and have little or no finance to pay for hire of halls etc: it’s free! Youth groups, choirs, theatre, bands or art groups could use some of the space for rehearsals, workshops, and performances or displays. We are planning a dedicated stage area with seating and floor space for audiences and dancing – tea dances or themed events based around the music of different decades and style – wartime, 1970s disco, ceilidhs…

Space for dances – or giraffe painting?

We have worked with a range of other groups in the past, including Leith Labs and Citadel Youth, and hope that these collaborations will continue and expand, as well as develop new projects with some of the other organisations in Ocean Terminal such as House of Jack dance studio, Projekt 42, Leith Collective, Street Soccer.

Working with such a vast space and a lot of different groups will mean there will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. We also hope we will be able to offer a number of Kickstarter employment opportunities for young people.

There’s lots to do!

If you are interested in helping or need some space for your project/group get in touch…