Previous Talks

Talks are held in Morningside Parish Church Hall at 7.15 p.m., with refreshments available from 6.45 p.m. Each season of talks runs from October until the following April.

The Charles Smith Lecture that opens each of our sessions commemorates the local author and founder of the Morningside Heritage Association.

Films shown are by kind permission of Edinburgh Films and Ian Rintoul.

Visitors are very welcome (a contribution of £3.00 is requested).


03 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
The Braid Estate: Sweetness and Light in Edinburgh; Simon Green

07 November
The Shetland Bus; Kath Hay

05 December
Trailblazing Edinburgh Women of Science; Catherine Booth

09 January
The Edinburgh Villa; Ian Gow

06 February
The Edinburgh Science Festival; Simon Gage

05 March
Thomas Chalmers, “Chief Scottish Man?”; Dr Derek Browning

09 April
Whatever Happened to the Stuarts?; Mike Lewis (replacement title)


06 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
The Cold Hand of Charity: Tales from the Edinburgh Poorhouse; Alastair Macdonald (Author)

01 November
Charles Piazzi Smyth and the One O’clock Gun; Professor Andy Lawrence

06 December, Annual General Meeting
Chipping Away at Hugh; Kath Hay

10 January
Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner: Famous Visitors to Edinburgh in the Enlightenment; Sheila Zsatkowski (a.k.a. Sheila Devlin-Thorp)

07 February
Down Memory Lane: TV Programmes We Used to Watch; Roy Johnstone

07 March
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Road to Swanston and the Pentland Hills; Mike Lewis

04 April
The Trinity Collegiate Church and Hospital; Jill Harrison



05 October (Zoom), The Charles Smith Lecture
A History of the Kashmir Shawl and the Paisley Pattern; Odile Hughson

02 November (Zoom)
A History of the Edinburgh Festival: Mike Lewis

01 February
The Fresh Air of a Summer Morning: the story of long-time Grange resident, the Edinburgh herbalist Duncan Napier; Eric Melvin

01 March, Annual General Meeting
The People who gave us the Morningside Clock; Ellie Updale

05 April
A Short History of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal; Brian Shearey

24 May (MHA’s Ruby Anniversary)
Edinburgh’s Department Stores; Jane Tulloch



(Talks from October to December were cancelled because of the pandemic.)

12 January (Zoom)
The Porteous Riot; Eric Melvin

02 February (Zoom)
The Colinton Tunnel Project; Mike Scott

YouTube video: The Walter Scott Archives; Produced for MHA by James Hamilton

02 March (Zoom)
Stockbridge Past and Present; Mike Lewis

13 April (Zoom)
Images of Japan; Eric Melvin

14 September (Zoom)
Edinburgh and the Act of Union; Eric Melvin



01 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
Scotland: Her Story; Rosemary Goring

05 November
Scottish Lighthouses; Mike Bullock

03 December, Annual General Meeting
A Celebration of Morningside Monuments, the buildings and their architects; Simon Green

06 January (Afternoon lecture)
Some Morningside Ladies of Science; Catherine Booth

04 February
Our Unique City; Cliff Hague

03 March
Film Night: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

07 April
(Talk postponed due to Covid-19)
Scotland’s Railways – 200 years of History in Maps; David Spaven

07 July (Zoom)
A Virtual Tour of the New Town; Eric Melvin

September (courtesy of John Chalmers, a MHA member)
Parliament Square, Edinburgh
A web-based exploration of the undated and unsigned painting The Parliament Close and Public Characters of Edinburgh including the artist(s), characters, buildings and statues. Developed and presented by MHA member by John Chalmers. The website is available here.



02 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
Dr Elsie Inglis: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Sit Still; Dr Lesley Orr

06 November
The Scottish Suffragettes; Ruth Boreham

04 December, Annual General Meeting
The Morningside Riots, 1935; Dr David Ritchie

08 January
The History of the Church Organ; Morley Whitehead (speaker and organist)

05 February
Appointment at Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark; Alan Taylor

04 March
Film Night: The Historic Village of Duddingston

02 April
The Early Photography of Erskine Beveridge: Travels with a Camera; Lesley Ferguson



10 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
Scotland and the Slave Trade; Professor Sir Geoffrey Palmer

07 November
Edinburgh – Athens of the North; Eric Melvin

05 December, Annual General Meeting
James Wilson of Woodville (Canaan); Dr John Chalmers

09 January
Tales of Westminster; Ian Murray MP (may be subject to change at short notice)

06 February
The History of the Usher Hall; Ruth Boreham

13 March
Film Night: The Belles of St Trinians

03 April
The Great Tapestry of Scotland; Dorje Wilkie



04 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
Eric Liddell, Olympian; Sue Caton

01 November
Reflections on Policing in Scotland; John McGowan

06 December, Annual General Meeting
A Unique Concentration: Women Living and Working in Morningside 1841-1891; Jill Powlett Brown

10 January
Peploe and Cadell; Guy Peploe

07 February
The Three Forth Bridges; Miles Oglethorpe

07 March
Film Night

11 April
The Mapping of Scotland; Christopher Fleet


06 October, The Charles Smith Lecture
Morningside, Mussolini and the God of Calvin: Theology and a certain Miss Jean Brodie in her Prime; The Reverend Dr Derek Browning

03 November
New Light on Early Morningside History; Douglas Baugh

01 December, Annual General Meeting
The Jordan Burn – a film made by Bill Smith

12 January
The Edinburgh of John Kay, Caricaturist, c1785-1817; Eric Melvin

02 February
Craiglockhart Hospital; The Reverend Professor David Fergusson

01 March
Film Night

05 April
The Monuments and War Memorials of Edinburgh; Paul McAuley