World War 1: The records revealed

Aerial Image of Port Edgar
Aerial Image of Port Edgar

Hundreds of sites and structures in the Journal and Gazette area, established for the defence of Scotland in the First World War, are explored in the latest extensive audit of the conflict’s built heritage.

It reveals previously unknown details of many aspects of our wartime heritage, including top secret anti-invasion defences prepared around Edinburgh in case of enemy attack.

The audit, commissioned by Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), has unearthed an enormous amount of new information which has allowed the records of 900 buildings and places to be created or updated, more than triple the number expected at the outset.

As Scotland prepares to commemorate the centenary of WW1, the audit of wartime assets has provided a fuller picture of the built heritage that can teach us about the country’s part in the war at a local level.

And, these records show that Queensferry, Bo’ness and Linlithgow all had their part to play.

The Queen Mary And Princess Christian Emergency Naval Hospital was located just to the south-west of Port Edgar in Queensferry. The hospital was in operation during the First World War and casualties were landed here from the Battle of Jutland. It was moved to occupy the Port Edgar barracks early in the Second World War.

The Forth was defended by a number of defences, and one of these, a pill box, still remains at Hound Point. Records show what appear to be nine blockhouses linked by a barbed wire entanglement protecting both the Dalmeny Battery and the southern approach to the Forth Bridge.

A chart on a War Office file dated August 1916 shows the location of the anti-submarine and anti-destroyer booms and nets in the Forth. The innermost line of defence was provided by submarine nets below the spans of the railway bridge. The nets were provided with gates for ships to pass through.

The Corbiehall drill hall in Bo’ness is marked on the 1895 and 1913 OS maps of the area. It is a long, low, symmetrical-free Jacobean building. There is a central gable with narrow window above a vehicle door. In 1914 the hall was base for “B” Company, 10th [Cyclist] Battalion, Royal Scots. The building is now partially in use as a garage and is also partially disused.