Book launch for Dalkeith: aspects of the history of a Scottish burgh

A fully-illustrated book highlighting the rich history of Dalkeith will be launched at Dalkeith Library on Friday 31 May.

Aspects of a town's history

Dalkeith: aspects of the history of a Scottish burgh is compiled from articles researched and written by David R Smith. Elected to Dalkeith Burgh Council in 1952 at the age of 21, David Smith was the youngest councillor in Scotland at the time. In 1975, local government in Scotland was reorganised and David became an elected member of Midlothian District Council. 

Former Provost

A further reorganisation in 1996 saw the creation of the unitary authority - Midlothian Council - at which point David stood down after more than 40 years of continuous service as a councillor. Over that period he also served, at different times, on Midlothian County Council and as Provost of Dalkeith and as Convenor of the District Council.

Remarkable insight

Beginning in the 1950s and continuing until the first decade of the 21st century, David submitted many articles on the history of Dalkeith to the Advertiser newspaper. This new volume comprises a selection of these, which collectively form an impressive body of writings. The articles are wide-ranging in subject matter and the periods covered.  Although not intended as a comprehensive history of Dalkeith, they provide a remarkable insight into how the town was affected by national and international events as well as its response to social issues like health, housing and crime.

Humour and humanitarianism

This is no ‘dry as dust’ history but a very entertaining read. In describing the local characters Showman John and Biting Mick, the author’s humour and humanitarianism shine brightly. In looking at slavery, witchcraft and grave-robbing, the rich tapestry of life in Dalkeith through the ages is revealed. In dressing up as a tramp and spending a night in a working men’s lodging house (and surviving the experience!), the length to which David was prepared to go to gain knowledge of an issue is apparent.

Much-deserved tribute

The book originated when a small group of David’s friends and acquaintances agreed that the volume would represent a much-deserved tribute to his dedication to serving the people of Dalkeith and Midlothian as a whole. This was achieved not only in his role as a local politician but also through his involvement with a range of bodies, including Dalkeith History Society.

Launch event

Dalkeith: aspects of the history of a Scottish burgh will be launched at Dalkeith Library on Friday 31 May at 7.30pm. Admission is free, with tickets available from Dalkeith Library.

To buy the book

Copies of the book will be on sale at the launch priced £10 and will also be available after the event from Dalkeith Library and Dalkeith Museum.   

24 May 2019