A boxer’s world title belts, a Paralympic champion’s swimming cap, and the helmet worn by Sir Chris Hoy during his Beijing Olympics gold medal rush are among the memorabilia set to go on display in an exhibition celebrating the city’s sporting success.
Unveiled today at the Museum of Edinburgh, The Active City will reveal the Capital’s centuries-old sporting heritage, from the ancient pastime of golf to the more modern and energetic pursuit of roller derby.
Sports fans will be able to marvel at priceless memorabilia from their sporting heroes, including Hoy, boxer Ken Buchanan and Olympic swimmer David Wilkie, which will take pride of place among the display cases.
The exhibition kicks off this evening with a demonstration of one of the latest additions to the sporting scene, with the Old Reekie Roller Girls putting on a roller derby performance in the museum courtyard.
The Active City sets out the history of sport in the city over six centuries from its beginnings in 1424, when the word first appeared in written records, until the present day.
The exhibit will chart the development of Edinburgh sporting landmarks and pastimes with close ties to the city. Visitors will be able to find out how sports including bowls, curling and golf owe some of their modern popularity to Scotland’s capital, and see how sporting landmarks like Murrayfield ice rink developed.
And city football fans wanting to escape the present day will be able to experience the rise of Hibs and Hearts as footballing powerhouses.
With this summer’s Commonwealth Games set to be the centrepiece of the sporting summer, the exhibit focuses on Edinburgh’s ties to the Friendly Games. The city hosted two Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1986, and the Queen’s Baton from those games will be on display just as this year’s version heads towards Glasgow.
Wilkie, described as Scotland’s greatest ever swimmer, won Olympic and Commonwealth golds in the 1970s. The Edinburgh-raised champ’s glittering career was kicked off by a bronze-medal-winning performance in his home town pool, and is one of the local success stories commemorated in the exhibition.
“I was 16 when I competed in my first Commonwealth Games in 1970 in Edinburgh and being a member of Warrender Baths Club I was used to and training at the Commonwealth Pool.
“To represent your country and swim in front of your home crowd in a major competition was a tremendous experience that not many international athletes get the chance to realise.
“Warrender in the 1970s was one of the top British clubs with many international swimmers and top coaching staff,” Wilkie said. “To win a medal in front of your home crowd was a fantastic experience; this was my first major success and I can look back and recognise what a huge impact winning this medal at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games had on the rest of my career.”
The exhibit will be on display until 29 November and entry is free.