Early Edinburgh Photographers
Warriston Cemetery dates from the mid 19th century. I believe it is an important aspect of Edinburgh's history. The gravestones of many of Edinburgh's early photographers can be found there, including:
I was shocked to read in the Edinburgh Evening News that many of the gravestones have recently been declared unsafe, and that following failure to make contact with descendants, over 500 of the gravestones have been pushed over and now lie flat on the ground.
I visited Warriston Cemetery today and photographed the result. It was worse than I had expected. Many of the gravestones are lying face down, so that visitors tracing their genealogy and others are no longer able to read the names. In some cases the headstones have been broken!
The Edinburgh Evening News reports that the Council's reaction shows no respect for the graves and has been disproportionate to the risk. [The action follows the death of a child in a graveyard in England 3 years ago.]
Surely it would have been better to find ways of making these gravestones safe, seeking funding to do so, if necessary, rather than leave the cemetery in the state it is today..
The very least we could expect is for the gravestones to be lowered gently, and not meet the fate of those in pictures 3 and 4.
[For further comments on the toppling of gravestones, see: Edinburgh Evening News 24 Jan 03, pp.1, 5, 10]
Following press comments and other protests earlier this year, we now [April 2003] have better news from Edinburgh City Council.
After seeing some of my recent photos taken at Warriston Cemetery,
Edith Caulfield wrote:
"I was just wondering as to why Warriston Cemetery is not maintained. How long has it been since any work has been done on the grounds, and who's decision was it to allow this to happen?.
This is terrible for families who want to visit there relatives who are buried there, I have an Aunt Elizabeth (Bessie) Hay who was buried there some time in the 1960s."
Edith Caulfield, (née Cavanagh), Toronto, Ontario, Canada: August 3, 2010
I can see your cause for concern, having looked at the photos that I took recently, but the whole of Warriston Cemetery does not look like that! I took the photos in the lower (southern) parts of the cemetery. These are now overgrown. They can look quite atmospheric at times!
However, the upper (northern) part of the cemetery seems to be well maintained. (I'll take a photo in that area for comparison next time I visit the cemetery.)
I believe that most of the damage to the cemetery (apart from the toppling of the gravestones, referred to above) occurred when the grounds were being maintained by a private company two or three decades ago. The Corporation was not happy with the level of maintenance that the private company provided, so took over control again.
On my most recent visit to the cemetery,, although the lower part of the grounds were very overgrown, I did not see any problems of vandalism or litter. There is now only one entrance to the cemetery open. The entrance that I used to use, from the disused railway (now a footpath and cycle path) on the southern side of the cemetery has been bricked up. So it should now be easier for the Corporation to control access to the grounds.
Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: August 10, 2010