Portobello grew from a settlement founded around 1750 on the Figgate Whins, a desolate area of scrubland 3 miles east of Edinburgh. It took its name from Puerta Bella, the port in Panama that was captured from Spain by the British in 1739 and is best known as a popular beach resort. What is less well-known is that during the First World War it was home to thousands of British troops, some of whom were billeted in a former pleasure garden and others in a chocolate factory. The story of wartime Portobello makes for fascinating reading. Many Portobello residents lost their lives in the conflict, and are now commemorated by memorial monuments throughout the town. Life on the Home Front changed a great deal for Portobello's residents. Troops for a new Edinburgh battalion were recruited from an office in Portobello and, for its size; the town sent an impressive number of men and women to serve in the war. In Portobello and the Great War, authors Archie Foley and Margaret Munro document the impact of the First World War on day-to-day life in Portobello, including a selection of old photographs to show how the conflict left its mark on the people and places around the area, and personal heart-felt diary entries from the era.
Archie Foley is known as Portobello's resident historian, as well as being part of the Portobello Reporter group. He has also served as secretary of the Portobello History Society, a position he held for twenty-one years. Margaret Munro is chairman and director of the Portobello Heritage Trust, and has also contributed to the Portobello Reporter.