In the early morning of 22nd May 1915 one thousand and twenty-eight officers, and men, of the 7th (Leith) Royal Scots set out for Gallipoli. As they set out from Larbert Station no one foresaw the tragic events that would unfold as a head on collision with another train at Quintinshill, near Gretna, would take the lives of 216 men.
The Pilmeny Youth Centre set out with four commemoration themes to remember the tragic events of Gretna 1915. The local community needed to open a window to this tragic and rarely every mentioned event. The Pilmeny Youth Centre and our project partners, Leith Academy Princes Trust XL Group, has uncovered many strands to this tragedy during our research.
Our first project theme is a fused tablet of white opaque glass that has been kiln fired with a central epitaph to those of the Leith Territorial Battalion who perished in the Gretna Rail Disaster of 1915, with the roll of those 216 men engrained alongside. The plaque is further adorned with hand made stained glass poppies; with each petal having been slumped, foiled and soldered into forming a three dimensional wreath of flowers. Workshops with Leith Academy Prince's Trust XL Group students contributed in the creation of the poppies.
The second of our project themes is a unique wreath made from 1000 poppies, possibly titled the Gretna Poppy. Working in partnership with the Lady Haig Poppy factory to establish the poppy model and wreath, PYC will present the wreath at various memorial ceremonies. The wreath it currently being displayed at South Leith Parish Church, suitably so as this was the battalion’s church. In the weeks leading up to Rememberance Sunday 2015, PYC arranged to distribute 1000 poppies to all primary school children in the local area, free of charge, to commemorate Remembering the Leith Battalion.
In partnership with Out of the Blue Arts centre and Hide and Seek Art Glass, our third theme was the Tree of Life. It was designed,
and built with the aid of Hawthorne joinery, to display 216 glass ID discs.
The ID discs, inspired by the original discs being developed during WW1, show, alternatively, the individual names and ages of each of the men of the Leith Territorial Battalion who died in the Gretna Rail Disaster of 1915.
Lastly PYC, with the support of local groups, stencilled red poppies featuring the name of each individual who perished at Gretna along the original funeral procession route from Dalmeny Drill Hall to Rosebank Cemetry. The poppies were a temporary display, pre and post the remembrance service at Rosebank Cemetery, in May 2015. The poppies generated some local and city wide discussion and raised awareness of this tragedy.