Caledonian Hotel WW1 plaque to go back on display

Conservator Helen Creasy works on the hotel's Roll of Honour. Picture: Contributed

Conservator Helen Creasy works on the hotel's Roll of Honour. Picture: Contributed

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THEY were the city’s great heroes, who fought on the frontline, in the air and sea, risking their lives for others during the First World War.

But for three decades, these brave souls were forgotten, after a damaged memorial listing 90 of their names in the Caledonian Hotel was taken down.

Just last month, a concierge rediscovered the hidden treasure in a general store cupboard, and now the manager wants the important plaque restored to its former glory and hung back up in the hotel’s Peacock Alley where it belongs.

The memorial represents the names of staff who fought in the Great War, according to Dale McPhee, the hotel manager.

Mr McPhee is hoping to track down descendants of those who are listed on the Roll of Honour, and is calling on Evening News readers to help with the task.

He believes there may be some forgotten stories about the hotel and its heroes waiting to be told once again.

He said: “Having found such a lovely piece of history and memorial to staff at The Caley, we now plan to display it proudly in our Peacock Alley.

“The Caley has been one of the most iconic buildings in the city since it was first opened and I am sure that staff named on our memorial were as proud to work here as we all are today.

“As we mark Remembrance Day this memorial allows us to write an additional chapter paying tribute to those who worked here. In fact, I do wonder if it is fate that we’ve found it now, 100 years on from the Great War and at a time when that is the focus of commemoration.”

He added: “Our memorial has not hung in the hotel for more than 30 years.

“As it reclaims pride of place we plan a formal unveiling and it is only appropriate that we try to find any relatives of those listed to join us.

“I’m sure there will be some wonderful stories to be shared.”

The memorial, which was found last month hiding amongst a selection of old photographs and memorabilia on the hotel’s fourth floor, is currently being restored to its former glory by Helen Creasy, a paper conservator at the Scottish Conservation Studio.

The restoration has been made possible thanks to a funding grant of almost £1000 from the Scottish Government-backed War Memorials Trust.

It is hoped the memorial, which was described as being in a poor and fragile condition, will be unveiled to the public at the end of the month inside the hotel.

Kevin Gray MM, chief executive officer of Legion Scotland, said war memorials served as an important reminder of the sacrifices local men and woman have made.

He said: “Throughout our communities in Scotland, war memorials serve as an important reminder and are a vital part of remembrance.

“We welcome the restoration of this memorial and now those Caledonian Hotel employees who fought in the First World War can be honoured and remembered.”

Anyone with information can contact Leonora.lawrence@waldorfastoria.com.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com