Step into a wartime tenement

14th December 2007 at 00:00
To a younger generation, the new War Time Life room at the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle will look truly archaic. But to those with memories of tea cosies and shortbread, the reproduced tenement "single end" will seem strangely familiar.

Created for primary school classes doing a Second World War topic, visitors can see how people in Scotland's cities lived and handle many objects in the room, including the wind-up air raid siren.

The person in charge of the project is Jen Simpson, learning programmes manager for specialist museums within the National Museums of Scotland.

She worked with a small team of experts to turn an ordinary museum education room into a fair copy of a tenement single end, divided into four main areas, each dealing with a particular aspect of wartime life and linked to a real person who had experienced it.

In the children's area - fitted with a box bed, rag rug and a modest collection of toys - you meet Millie Gray, who was evacuated to the countryside from her home in Leith in 1941.

Visitors can read Millie's story, look at contemporary photographs and open the small suitcase a typical child evacuee would have carried, packed with a change of clothing, boiled sweets and the obligatory gas mask.

A real black kitchen range has been fitted in the hearth area, where you find out what servicemen carried in their bags and learn about a Scottish soldier who came back from the war - and one who didn't.

The kitchen area has domestic implements and the type of cosmetics women would have used. And the prisoners-of-war area features a Red Cross parcel of clothes, corned beef and Tunnock's Tea Cakes addressed to Private William Nisbet at his camp in Poland.

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