The Society has been a prominent part of Corstorphine’s social life since the end of the 19th Century. We are working towards marking 140 years of “the Lit” in 2020.
It is probable that the origins of the Society go back to a series of lectures arranged by a Dr Fowler in the winter of 1856 during the Crimean War. Dr Fowler and his friends met regularly in the back room of a tailor’s shop in the High Street. They formed themselves into the Corstorphine Literary Association. The objects of the Association as stated in its founding documents were “To promote the intellectual, physical and social improvement of the members of the Association and others and, to provide for the delivery of Lectures, the holding of Concerts, Discussions, and Entertainments”. The pioneers of this social development were soon convinced of the need of a hall to accommodate the number of villagers seeking membership. In 1886, six years after the Association became open to the public, the membership had reached over 400. Only the Primary School had the capacity to meet even 75% of that number. The Committee decided that the Association should start to raise money for the building of a Public Hall.
That dream was realised when The Corstorphine Public Hall was opened on 29 January 1892 following the formation of the Public Hall Company and the raising of the necessary funds to pay for its construction. Much of the money was contributed by the Association and, individually by its members. The Literary Association conducted regular debates on national and international topics, and famous speakers came to deliver lectures.
The Association continued to hold meetings throughout the first World War but were forced to suspend meetings during the second World War. When they restarted, colour slides often accompanied the talks and a widening of the range of subjects led in 1957 to a change of name to Corstorphine Literary and Geographical Society.
The Society marked its centenary in 1980 by presenting the local community with a commemorative wooden seat. The bench, in a sunny spot outside the Old Parish Church entrance on Corstorphine High Street, was beautifully restored in 2006 by the 10th Haymarket Scout Group (now 10th Craigalmond) who were celebrating their centenary by undertaking a worthwhile local project.
Unfortunately, the Public Hall was destroyed by fire in 2013 and since then we have been meeting at St Ninian’s.