Have you ever noticed the huge red poppy on the chimney to the east of the bridge over the Water of Leith at Warriston?
Founded by the wife of Field Marshall Haig, the Lady Haigh Poppy Factory first opened in 1926 in the grounds of Whitefoord House in the Canongate to employ disabled ex servicemen from World War One to supply poppies for remembrance ceremonies. By 1928, the factory was making stuffed toys and jigsaws. By the thirties, it employed 117 people, and was making special items for Jubilees and Coronations, as well as for a mobile shop travelling round Scotland, which stopped regulalry at Balmoral.
During World War Two, production shifted towards gas mask holders, blackout curtains and other war-related items. Soldiers injured in the new war started to be employed.
After the war, things returned to as they were before, focusing on toys and jewellery, but rationing and shortages of raw materials made things difficult. The factory moved to its current location in a former printing works in 1965, being officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh the following year.
To this day poppies are still made here, to the same design that was standardised in 1955. In 1998, the Water of Leith flooded the factory destroying over a million poppies.
You can see the chimney of the factory, sporting a giant red poppy, from the bridge on the path as it crosses the Water of Leith.
Photo by itmpa via Flickr