A better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society
You are here: Home > Lothian Association > All Our Stories

All Our Stories

100 years of adult and worker education: celebrating the WEA story 

WEA Students at Newbattle Abbey College, Midlothian, circa 1950

The Workers’ Educational Association was founded in 1903 to open up education for working people.  The longest running WEA branches in Scotland were formed around 100 years ago:  Edinburgh in 1912, Aberdeen in 1913, Glasgow in 1916, and Dundee and Kilmarnock in 1917.  Throughout the 20th century to the present day WEA has been running education activities across the length and breadth of the country from Orkney to Jedburgh, Fraserburgh to Stranraer. 

WEA Leaflet extract

Much of the WEA's remarkable history in Scotland is preserved in national and local libraries, archives, WEA offices around the country and in the hearts and minds of our voluntary members, tutors, learners and staff.

Promotional leaflet for WETUC (Workers' Education Trade Union Committee, 1919-1964)

The WEA’s All Our Stories project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, enabled WEA members and learners in six areas of Scotland to investigate WEA’s story in their own area and to select historical material, reminiscence, photographs and documents, for the new WEA Scotland website. Click on the following links to find out more about what WEA researchers discovered in the archives: W.E.A. Courses 1925-1948 and Beyond, Importance of the WEA, Learning with the WEA.

We hope by sharing the WEA’s story we will inspire a new generation of learners, members and staff to get involved and carry on the work of the association in Scotland. 

Find out more about WEA's history in Scotland from our film, Timeline: A Century of Learning, 1903-2003, which charts key developments and innovations in the Workers' Educational Association's first 100 years in Scotland.


All Our Stories in Edinburgh

In Edinburgh the All Our Stories project began during Adult Learners’ Week, on 21st May 2013.  More than 20 WEA voluntary members and learners people took part in a morning workshop to find out more about WEA’s history and current work in Edinburgh, learn needlework and embroidery techniques and discuss their own memories, experiences and connections to the WEA.  Members also created their own hand embroidered WEA book mark. 

Book Mark Workshop


“I enjoyed learning about the history and significance of the WEA in promoting and supporting adult education.  
The bookmark design was very creative and interesting.”

“I came to hear about the story of the Workers’ Educational Association from when Albert Mansbridge created the idea.  
(I liked) how all the students engaged with each other and input and stories and opinions.” 

WEA members and learners also visited WEA Scotland archives held in Riddle’s Court, National Library of Scotland and University of Edinburgh special collections, to research the WEA story in Edinburgh. The WEA Scotland archives at Riddle’s Court include: WEA Scotland Annual Reports dating from 1918, Minutes of Scottish Council Meetings, and class programmes and publicity providing a wealth of information about WEA’s activities in the City of Edinburgh from World War I to the present day. People also helped to prepare this material for deposit in the National Library of Scotland, where it will be cared for and accessible for further study. 

To find out more about the WEA's history in Edinburgh and the Lothians follow the links below:

Branch History


Special Projects

Heritage Lottery Fund






Find a course within:
Search this site