ED2012 Festival Venues ED2012 News ED2012 Week2 Edition

Remembering an Edinburgh Festival champion

By | Published on Monday 13 August 2012

Summerhall Horse

You do know that if it wasn’t for a horse, there wouldn’t be an Edinburgh Festival, don’t you?

Well, we might be exaggerating slightly, but way back in 1945, when the Edinburgh International Festival was first being conceived, one of the event’s earliest champions was Lady Rosebery, who also provided funding for the first festival programme in 1947. And some of that money – the history books tell us – came from the winnings her husband Lord Rosebery had made when one of the horses he owned, Ocean Swell, won the Derby and the Jockey Club Cup in 1944.

Recognising Ocean Swell’s role in helping what is now the world’s greatest cultural party to first emerge way back in the mid-1940s, one of the Festival’s newest venues – and a new year-round cultural space for the city – Summerhall, has just unveiled a statue in honour of the horse, pictured here with legendary Fringe impresario Richard Demarco, who is presenting events as part of this year’s Summerhall festival programme.

A Summerhall spokesman told ThreeWeeks: “Ocean Swell, whose winnings at the 1944 Derby and Jockey Club Cup were used by Lady Rosebery to pay part of the costs of the first Edinburgh Festival, bridges a link between what Summerhall is doing now and the site’s history. The Summerhall Brewery used horse and cart to deliver its beer. And when the brewery closed, the site became the home of the Royal Dick Veterinary school, which was initially founded for the treatment of horses, cows and pigs. The statue also pays homage to the founding of the Edinburgh Festivals, and the unique founding principles employed to this day”.

Read about Summerhall’s festival programme at www.summerhall.co.uk