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Press release

University celebrates 135 years

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh is to mark the start of its 135 th anniversary year with a reunion which will bring together graduates from all over the UK. The reunion coincides with the Scottish Government’s year long focus on food and drink.

Established by two pioneering women, Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson, The Edinburgh School of Cookery (forerunner to Queen Margaret) was established to address some of the key problems of that time – providing better education and improved career opportunities for females, and to bring about an improvement in diets, particularly those of working class families.

135 years on, Queen Margaret University specialises in a variety of niche areas but still focuses on its innovative development of food and drink through its work in nutrition, dietetics, public health, hospitality and tourism.

The reunion will bring together graduates from the 1940s, 50s and 60s and 70s, many of whom used the skills they learned at Queen Margaret to build successful careers in the food and drink industry.

Rosalyn Marshall, Vice Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: Although the institution has gone through enormous changes over the years, it’s important to reflect on its history and achievements and continue to develop our work in the same spirit, focus and values with which we started.

“Many of the graduates who will attend our reunion have made a considerable contribution to society. Their work reflects the vision of our pioneering founders who dedicated themselves to improving quality of life and making a positive impact on society.”

The reunion presents an excellent opportunity for the University to celebrate its history, and for graduates to reconnect with QMU by finding out more about what is now a modern, forward thinking, relevant university.

Rosalyn concluded: “Our graduates are pleased that we still have a strong focus on food and drink and are continually developing our research and consultancy work in this important area. It will be a pleasure to share news of our first student food festival and our programme of activities to celebrate Scotland’s food and drink.”

Queen Margaret University’s graduate reunion will take place on 26 th June at the Musselburgh campus. For further information about the event or to book your place please contact Sarah Whigham (Events Manager) on email: or Ann Hubbard (Alumni & Development Assistant on email: or tel: 0131 474 0000. Packages for day activities and overnight accommodation is available on request.


Notes to editor

The early history of QMU

Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson’s work in improving quality of life and serving the community began with lectures taking place, before huge audiences, in the Royal Museum in Chamber Street, Edinburgh. In addition, the institution’s first teaching staff gave public lectures and demonstrations all over Britain using mobile gas and paraffin cooking equipment. The early generation of lecturers were mainly young women, who, almost everywhere they went, drew large gatherings of women eager for instruction.

With the first permanent base at Shandwick place in 1877 and then Atholl Crescent in 1891, the ‘Edinburgh School of Cookery’ began training middle class students to be school teachers and housekeepers. The School responded to worrying medical reports which, in the 1900s, highlighted the plight of urban school children from poorer parts of Edinburgh. They were much smaller and lighter than children from middle class areas and that they suffered from significant medical defects caused by poor housing and nutrition and ignorance of food, health, hygiene and child care. The School became ‘Edinburgh College of Domestic Science’ and over the next few years became world renowned for setting the standards for the training of domestic science teachers.

Information about the reunion

Graduates attending the event will visit the new purpose built Queen Margaret University campus in East Lothian where morning coffee and a buffet lunch will be served. After meeting the Vice Principal guests will be invited on a campus tour and to view exhibitions. The afternoon will include an optional bus tour of East Lothian and afternoon tea in North Berwick or guests may choose to spend their free time in Edinburgh. The event concludes with an optional dinner in the conservatory at the Old Aberlady Inn.

For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, mob: 07711 011239, email:

last modified 18/06/10 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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