Website that shows Auld Reekie in new light

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HUNDREDS of historic images chosen by well-known figures, including the comedian Rory Bremner, the champion swimmer Kirsty Balfour and the architect Malcolm Fraser are featured on a new online archive dedicated to Scotland's capital.

Sandy Crombie, the Standard Life boss, and chef Tony Singh are among others to have chosen their favourite images of the city to mark the launch of the Capital Collections archive.

Compiled by the city council, the archive features photographs, prints, watercolours, drawings, etchings and engravings depicting Edinburgh's past and present.

Each image has a description, is indexed and has additional historical or background information which will allow users to search for further images easily.

John Leighton, the director of the National Galleries, Sheilagh Kesting, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Kirk, city kiltmaker Geoffrey Nicholsby and the broadcaster Sheena McDonald have also chosen their favourite images.

Edinburgh-born Bremner selected an 1822 lithograph offering a view of the city looking west from Calton Hill, Balfour opted for an 1888 photograph of Warrender Baths in Marchmont, while Leighton chose a view of the Old Town skyline from East Princes Street Gardens, in 1967.

The archive also includes examples of the early work of the celebrated photographic pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson.

About 1,000 images are currently available on the archive, which went live yesterday, but the council's library service has more than 100,000 in its own collection, and staff will add them in the coming months.

The online database is made up of images either acquired through donation or purchased by the council since the Central Library, on George IV Bridge, opened in 1890.

It is hosting an exhibition of the favourite images chosen by the Edinburgh luminaries until 11 April.

The archive has been funded by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh World Heritage.

Councillor Deidre Brock said: "Capital Collections can help people from all over the world research family roots, learn about Edinburgh's history and maybe even unlock some hidden secrets of the past."

Bremner said: "My chosen image shows the contrast between the crowded, haphazard Old Town and the regimented order of the New Town."

Kirsty Balfour said: "One of my earliest memories of swimming is at Warrender Baths. My parents used to take me there every weekend. I spent most of the time under the water watching the sunlight as it made pretty patterns on the tiled floor of the pool."