Friday, 1 June 2012

Royal connection

As a coincidence on the weekend of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this lovely little booklet Opening of the New Library by Her Majesty the Queen   appeared on my desk. The new library on George IV Bridge was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on the 4th July in 1956.

Enclosed in the booklet is a full order of proceedings, it states

“ 3.0 p.m. Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh will arrive at the main entrance of the New Library on George IV Bridge.” Mr Orchard (the director of Messrs. Colin Macandrew & Partners the principal contactors) will hand the key to the Queen, and the Chairman will ask Her Majesty to unlock the door.

The booklet tells the story of the library, how it started and a description of the new building, with a few black and white photos of various areas inside the building. It is a delightful booklet and well worth a read.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


A coffee table book if there ever was one, this book Ballgowns british glamour since 1950   published by the Victoria and Albert Museum encapsulates the ballgown. It is full of wonderful photographs of British ballgowns spanning 60 years.

Designs by Alexander McQueen, Garath Pugh and Stella McCartney are just a few of the designers featured in this book. The book explains about the importance of the ballgown from 1950, when formal balls took place and debutantes learned to curtsy for their presentation to court, to wearing the most beautiful evening dresses on the red carpet.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Crimean War

Whilst checking some parliamentary papers, I came across the second report from the Select Committee on the Army before Sebastopol, with the minutes of evidence and appendix. I was immediately transported to the horrors of war by reading it. This is a frightening report where the Select Committee examined men that had been actually there and seen what it was like. Some of the statements are not just harrowing, but extremely gruesome.

There is evidence about the state of the toilets in one of the hospitals; “the pipes soon chocked up and the liquid faeces, the evacuations from those afflicted with diarrhoea, filled up the pipes, floated up over the floor, and came into the room…more than an inch deep when I got there in the morning.” He then goes on to mention that the soldiers who had no slippers or shoes had to use the toilets! The inspector ended up catching diarrhoea within 5 minutes of being there. Ugh!

In another interview it describes the state of the army outfits. The question was “were the men in a ragged and comfortless condition in the camp?” The reply was “Frightful; they had haybands round their legs in very many instances, and their trousers were completely worn out.”

There was a debate about coffee, that it was deeply regretted that it was green and not roasted.

The worst statement I read concerned dead bodies; “it was wrapped in a blanket and carried to the grave, and when placed in the grave the blanket was taken off” This was to stop the digging up of the bodies to steal the blankets.

This report can be found at PP 1854-55 Vol. IX. or if you are a registered reader of the National Library of Scotland, try using the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers resource.