2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the RBGE Guild. The primary role of the Guild was to be an agent of social intercourse and support to its members, who comprised past and present members of RBGE staff, in their professional advancement. The idea of forming the Guild was initiated by Walter Henry Morland, a Kew trained gardener who came to Edinburgh in 1910 as a rose specialist. A provisional committee was set up early in 1913 to investigate the idea of the Guild; there was a meeting in June which set all the wheels in motion and on the 14th November 1913, the first AGM was held, followed by a Dinner at the Royal British Hotel, Edinburgh. Professor Isaac Bayley Balfour, Regius Keeper at the Garden, was named the inaugural president, and Morland became the first secretary, responsible for producing the Guild’s first journal which was sent out to 300 potential members, of whom 200 subscribed.
The Guild’s activities paused when war broke out. Morland was among many at RBGE who enlisted, joining the 5th Royal Scots in September 1914. He was tragically killed in the Gallipoli Campaign in May 1915.
The Guild did what Morland hoped it would do, however. It proved to be an excellent way for past and present staff at RBGE to keep in touch, recording what was happening to them – births, marriages, deaths, sports clubs, social events, essays about trips and ventures at home and abroad – it’s all there, preserved in the Journals now on the shelves in the RBGE Library.
RBGE volunteer Diana Wilkinson is currently delving through these journals, extracting and listing names, dates and events to produce a searchable database which it is anticipated will eventually go online on the RBGE Library website so that it can be searched by anyone interested in the men and women working at RBGE during the last century.