Public Diners Heritage Project: April Update

“I was proud of the kind of people I saw going into them”

Lord Llewellin, Civic Restaurants Bill Second Reading, Lords, 6th March 1947

And we are off!

I’m so pleased that this project is up and running with so much interest and passion behind it.

So far, we have 60 fabulous volunteers who are helping us research the history of British Restaurants and we have already found some interesting documents on the impact these Restaurants had in the 1940s. These include Government Bills, Ministry of Food documents, local council plans and meeting minutes and lots and lots of newspaper articles from all over Scotland. Volunteers have already managed to map a few of the locations of British Restaurants, from Glasgow up to Inverness, down to Aberdeen and Dundee and back again to Edinburgh.

We have asked each volunteer to follow their own line of inquiry or research niche for the project. This includes everything from Government involvement, the artwork in restaurants, the menu and food distribution to the individual lives of those who ran and campaigned for restaurants in their area. It is exciting to see the range of historical topics explored and what inspires our volunteers.

At the end of May we have a Research Symposium planned so volunteers can meet and share ideas and their research. We also have Oral History training sessions, presented by the Oral History Society, in June. This will be a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to develop their historical skillset and interviewing techniques, ready to find local stories and first-hand accounts of individuals of British Restaurants. So, watch this space for more events on the project!

On Friday 5th April, our Public Diners project was featured in the ‘Word of Mouth’ exhibition launch which displayed a creative collage which was created by our attendees to our February conference. The colourful and collaborative artwork is pride of place in the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile Edinburgh. Many thanks to Abigail McCall (Nourish), Maisie Wills (Storytelling Centre) and Caspar Wilson (Studio Caspar – who helped us create the collage).

The exhibition is running till the 20th April, so please go and check that out!

There is still time to be involved in the project and if you are interested in being a research volunteer please see our vacancies page or contact me at

We are also seeking individuals who may have first hand accounts of using British Restaurants or remember tales of their families and friends visiting them in the 1940s-50s. If yourself or anyone you know, who would be interested in being interviewed for our project, please contact me also.

It has been a great start, and I cannot wait to see where this project takes us!