Ex-pupil discovers lost World War One memorial plaque in Edinburgh school

Two ex-pupils from Newcraighall Primary School have unearthed and restored their community’s forgotten war memorial.

By Shona Elliott
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 4:55 am

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James Mitchell from Niddrie stumbled across the war memorial plaque in the attic of his old primary school.

“I was working on a job at the school,” said the 23-year-old who works as a skilled labourer for Cornhill Building Services.

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(L-R) James Mitchell and Daryl Huth with the restored memorial plaque.

“We were getting ready to start work on the ceiling and I was moving all the furniture out when I came across the memorial.”

The historic artifact was lying in disrepair and Mr Mitchell believed it had been forgotten about for a long time.

“I don’t remember ever seeing it when I was at school, and none of the facility could remember seeing it,” he said.

The self-proclaimed ‘history buff’ said it was “heartbreaking” to see the plaque lying forgotten in storage.

Mr Mitchell hard at work cleaning, mending and polishing the memorial.

“I found it heartbreaking to find a memorial like this from a small community being in such deterioration,” he said. “It was just lying on the ground in the corner with no attention given to it.”

Determined to restore the artifact, Mr Mitchell asked permission to remove, restore and return the plaque which his old headmaster was only too happy to allow.

With the help of his friend and painter, Daryl Huth, the pair began restoring the war memorial from Mr Mitchell’s home in Niddrie.

For the last week and a half the pair have been hard at work cleaning, mending and polishing the item.

The memorial plaque was found in the attic of Mr Mitchell's old primary school.

“It took longer because we were stopping to research the names of the fellows that had given their lives,” said Mr Mitchell.

The labourer made an exciting personal discovery along the way.

“I found two of my relatives on it,” he said. “Robert MacDonald and James MacDonald, it was a sobering moment.”

The school said they are “amazed” with the newly returned plaque, while it is not known yet where it will hang, there is no question that it will not be going back into storage.

The school said they are “amazed” with the newly returned plaque.

Speaking about the experience Mr Mitchell said: “I feel honoured to have been able to work on something like this.”

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The pair also restored the timber frame.