Workshop Three: Places, then and now, how do they influence our health?

10.00 – 15.00, Friday 14th October 2016

In this workshop, participants were invited to follow in the footsteps of the Mobility, Mood and Place lifecourse researchers by exploring some of the most detailed historical information on Edinburgh’s social and physical environment and the health of its residents.

We began with archived material from the University of Edinburgh’s Main Library, most notably the ‘Civic Survey and Plan for Edinburgh 1949’, an outstanding data source on population, education, recreation, housing, traffic and much more. The material is expertly presented in a series of tables, graphs and maps, and delegates were given a demonstration of digitisation techniques, which are crucial for bringing historical information alive.

After lunch, we visited the Main Library’s major exhibition, ‘Godfrey Thomson: The Man Who Tested Scotland’s IQ’. This tells the story of the pioneering educational psychologist who laid the foundations for the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936. Having used the 1936 Cohort extensively in our research, we discussed what makes it, and its 1921 equivalent, such a truly unique resource for measuring the health of Edinburgh’s residents over time.

We ended our session with a visit to Buccleuch and Greyfriars Church Hall, where we found out how the Causey Development Trust, a local charity, is working to transform a car-dominated city space into a lively, people-friendly place that celebrates the history and spirit of the Southside of Edinburgh. In particular, we heard about the Trust’s work to promote health and wellbeing through prioritising active travel and the building of community partnerships.


Mobility, Mood and Place team members Mark Cherrie, Ian Deary, Jamie Pearce and Niamh Shortt.


• Abercrombie, P. and Plumstead, D. 1949. A Civic Survey & Plan for the City and Royal Burgh of Edinburgh. London: Oliver & Boyd • Deary, I. J., A. J. Gow, A. Pattie and J. M. Starr (2012). Cohort profile: the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936. Int J Epidemiol 41(6): 1576-1584. • Pearce, J., N. Shortt, E. Rind and R. Mitchell (2016). Life Course, Green Space and Health: Incorporating Place into Life Course Epidemiology. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13(3). • The Causey Development Trust. 2016. The Causey: transforming a place. [ONLINE] Available at:

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