Leith: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 55°59′N 3°10′W / 55.98°N 3.17°W / 55.98; -3.17

Scottish Gaelic: Lìte
The Water of Leith
Leith is located in Edinburgh

 Leith shown within the City of Edinburgh
Council area City of Edinburgh
Lieutenancy area Edinburgh
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district EH6
Dialling code 0131
Police Lothian and Borders
Fire Lothian and Borders
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Edinburgh North and Leith
Scottish Parliament Edinburgh North and Leith
List of places: UK • Scotland • • Edinburgh

Leith (pronounced /ˈliːθ/ leeth; Scottish Gaelic: Lìte) is a district and former municipal burgh[1] in the north of the city of Edinburgh at the mouth of the Water of Leith and is the port of Edinburgh, Scotland. It lies on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, in the unitary local authority of the City of Edinburgh.



Historically Leith was governed by the Town Council of Edinburgh, with separately organised baillies appointed by various bodies without contact with each other. The result became vary unsatisfactory, and half of Leith was provided with no municipal government whatever or any local magistrates. An 1827 Act of Parliament arranged for municipal government and administration of justice in the town, providing watching, paving, cleansing, and lighting, with Edinburgh Council responding to the views of Leith townspeople. In 1833 the Burgh Reform Act made Leith a Parliamentary Burgh, which jointly with Portobello and Musselburgh was represented by one member of Parliament. On 1 November 1833, Leith became a separate Municipal Burgh, with its own provost, magistrates, and council, and was no longer run by bailies. Continued growth meant that Leith and Edinburgh formed a contiguous urban area. Leith was merged with Edinburgh in 1920 following a plebiscite in which the people of Leith voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the merger.[1]

Leith has a long and prominent role in Scottish history. As the major port access to Edinburgh, Leith has served as the stage for many of Scottish history's significant events. Mary of Guise ruled Scotland from Leith in 1560 as Regent for her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. At that time the Scottish Court was situated in Leith. The Regency ended in disaster with French Catholic troops being ousted by Scottish forces aided by English Protestant troops. The remains of the battlefield are now a park called the Leith Links: two grassy mounds are the cannon emplacements of 1560. The following year Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived in Leith to begin her ill-fated six year reign.

About a century later, Leith was both a battleground and ultimately headquarters for Oliver Cromwell forces. An archway of the old Leith Citadel stands as the only remnant of extensive Cromwellian fortifications built in advance of the move north of Cromwell's roundhead army.

The Links was also where the earliest record of golf was found[citation needed]; it was the subject of a ban by King James II in 1457 as it interfered with the more useful sport of archery, confirmed in 1714 by the first competition for The Edinburgh Arrow by the Royal Company of Archers. The links are the site of an early five hole golf course built in the 18th century. Leith bolsters its claim to being "the home of golf" because the official rules of golf, initially formulated at Leith in 1744 by the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, were later adopted by St Andrews.

During the American war of independence John Paul Jones, a Scotsman who is credited as founder of the US Navy, led a flotilla of three former French vessels against Leith.[citation needed] The heavily armed warships were, reputedly, repulsed by appalling weather. Leith built fortifications after this event to prevent any repeat threat to the port and to Edinburgh. Part of Leith is still known as "The Fort" to this day, although all of the 18th century buildings, save a gatehouse, are long since gone.

There is a long history of worship in Leith which can be dated back to at least the 12th century.[citation needed] After the Scottish Reformation the principal parish kirk for Leith was South Leith Parish Church, originally constructed in 1483. In June 1811 a statistical population census gave the population of South Leith as 15,938; North Leith 4875. With a procession and ceremony, the foundation stone of the new church for the parish of North Leith was laid on 11 April 1814.[2]

Leith was the port of entry for the visit of King George IV to Scotland, and The Old Ship Hotel and King's Landing was then given its new name to mark the King's arrival by ship's boat at Leith Shore for this event which popularised symbols of Scottish national identity.

Leith Docks became known as the port for Edinburgh and modest shipbuilding and repair facilities grew. On 20 May 1806, there was a procession of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Magistrates (Baillies), and Council, along with a numerous company of ladies and gentleman, for the opening of the first new Wet Dock, the first of its kind in North Britain. The Fife packet called The Buccleuch was the first to enter the dock, with the civic dignitaries on board, amid discharges of artillery from the Fort and His Majesty's warships in the Roads. The foundation stone for the second (middle) wet dock was laid on 14 March 1811, which was completed and opened with due ceremony in 1817 by Lord Provost Arbuthnot. The same year the Trinity House in Kirkgate was erected in Grecian architectural style at an expense of £2500.[3]

The docks at Leith underwent severe decline in the post-Second World War period, with the area gaining a reputation for roughness and prostitution, with an official 'tolerance zone' until 2001. In recent years Leith has undergone significant regeneration and is now a busy port with visits from cruise liners and the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, and administrative offices for several departments of the Scottish Government. The council and government's 'Leith Project' provided a further economic boost. The shore area of Leith, once seedy, is now a centre for a range of new pubs and restaurants in charming surroundings. On 6 November 2003, Leith was the location for the MTV Europe Music Awards, with a temporary venue being built next to Ocean Terminal.


After decades of industrial decline, slum clearance and resultant depopulation in the post-war era, Leith gradually began to enjoy an upturn in fortunes in the late 1980s. Several old industrial sites were developed with modest, affordable housing, while small industrial business units were constructed at Swanfield, Bonnington, Seafield and off Lindsay Road. The Shore developed a clutch of upmarket restaurants, including the first of the groundbreaking chain of Malmaison hotels in a conversion of the former Seamans Mission, while the once industrially-polluted and desolate banks of the Water of Leith were cleaned up and a public walkway opened.

Leith's gradual revival was greatly accelerated, however, by the decision of the Scottish Office (now the Scottish Government) to purchase the disused Old East and Old West Docks, which were filled-in as a low-cost site for one of its civil service offices in the mid 1990s[citation needed]. The influx of well-paid civil service jobs boosted local commerce and fostered Leith's growing reputation as a white-collar, small business location. Further large-scale service and tourist development followed, including the Ocean Terminal complex and the permanently moored Royal Yacht Britannia. From 2011 Ocean Terminal and the Scottish Executive building area will be connected to the new Edinburgh Trams by the Port of Leith tram stop.

Western Harbour

In 2004 the owner of the Docks, Forth Ports, announced plans to eventually close the port and carry out a major redevelopment of the area.[4] The planned development, which was given supplementary planning guidance by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2004, will be the size of a small town with up to 17,000 new homes.[5] It will include developments on the infilled Western Harbour as well as residential, leisure, retail and commercial development across the rest of the old docks. The urban design of the project will keep it in context with the older developments in Leith and provide a wealth of public and private open space, including two large parks and a number of pedestrian linkages across the docks. The whole project is expected to be completed by about 2020. The plans have not been entirely well received, with concerns being expressed that the scheme does not give enough importance to affordable housing, and that it will only exacerbate the income disparity that already exists in Leith.[citation needed]


Streets in Leith include Constitution Street, Great Junction Street, Leith Walk and Easter Road, Edinburgh.

One of the areas is Timber Bush.

Culture and community

Leith has a long history of idealistic social advances, many of which were the first in Scots history:

All boys were educated for free from 1555 onwards. This was paid for by the local trade guilds. All girls were educated from 1820, admittedly a long time after the boys, but very early for free education for females (the law only required it from 1876). A free hospital service was provided from 1777, paid for by a local income tax, with beds sponsored by local shops. Leith had electric street lighting from 1890, and electric trams from 1905 (Only Blackpool was earlier in the UK). The first public sewer in Scotland was built in Bernard Street in 1780... this simply flowed into the Water of Leith. The iron seal over the end of this is still visible next to Bernard Street bridge. The sewage is now pumped the other way (it was laid to fall westwards) to Seafield.

Hibernian Football Club have their stadium at Easter Road in Leith.[6]

The Utopia pub on Easter Road started a protest campaign against the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling after the 2008 Budget.[7]

Famous people from Leith


  1. ^ a b The Story of Leith XXXIII. How Leith was Governed
  2. ^ Gilbert, W.M., editor, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century, Edinburgh, 1901: 54 and 58
  3. ^ Gilbert, W.M., editor, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century, Edinburgh, 1901, pps: 42,64-5
  4. ^ End of the line for Leith port
  5. ^ Leith set for major development
  6. ^ "Hibernian Football Club". www.hibernianfc.co.uk. http://www.hibernianfc.co.uk/. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  7. ^ "'Ban Alistair Darling from every British pub' - Telegraph". telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/1582825/Ban-Alistair-Darling-from-every-British-pub.html. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

There is more than one place in the world called Leith. You may be looking for:

  1. Leith is a district in Edinburgh.
  2. Leith is a city in Grant County, southwest, North Dakota.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEITH, a municipal and police burgh, and seaport, county of Midlothian, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 77,439. It is situated on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, i z m. N.N.E. of Edinburgh, of which it is the port and with which it is connected by Leith Walk, practically a continuous street. It has stations on the North British and Caledonian railways, and a branch line (N.B.R.) to Portobello. Lying at the mouth of the Water of Leith, which is crossed by several bridges and divides it into the parishes of North and South Leith, it stretches for 34 m. along the shore of the Firth from Seafield in the east to near Granton in the west. There is tramway communication with Edinburgh and Newhaven.

The town is a thriving centre of trade and commerce. St Mary's in Kirkgate, the parish church of South Leith, was founded in 1483, and was originally cruciform but, as restored in 1852, consists of an aisled nave and north-western tower. Here David Lindsay (1531-1613), its minister, James VI.'s chaplain and afterwards bishop of Ross, preached before the king the thanksgiving sermon on the Gowrie conspiracy (1600). John Logan, the hymn-writer and reputed author of "The Ode to the Cuckoo," was minister for thirteen years; and in its graveyard lies the Rev. John Home, author of Douglas, a native of Leith. Near it in Constitution Street is St James's Episcopal church (1862-1869), in the Early English style by Sir Gilbert Scott, with an apsidal chancel and a spire 160 ft. high. The parish church of North Leith, in Madeira Street, with a spire 158 ft. high, is one of the best livings in the Established Church of Scotland. St Thomas's, at the head of Shirra Brae, in the Gothic style, was built in 1843 by Sir John Gladstone of Fasque, who - prior to his removal to Liverpool, where his son, W. E. Gladstone, was born - had been a merchant in Leith. The public buildings are wholly modern, the principal being of classic design. They include the custom house (1812) in the Grecian style; Trinity House (1817), also Grecian, containing Sir Henry Raeburn's portrait of Admiral Lord Duncan, David Scott's "Vasco da Gama Rounding the Cape" and other paintings; the markets (1818); the town hall (1828), with an Ionic façade on Constitution Street and a Doric porch on Charlotte Street; the corn exchange (1862) in the Roman style; the assembly rooms; exchange buildings; the public institute (1867) and Victoria public baths (1899). Trinity House was founded in 1555 as a home for old and disabled sailors, but on the decline of its revenues it became the licensing authority for pilots, its humane office being partly fulfilled by the sailors' home, established about 1840 in a building adjoining the Signal Tower, and rehoused in a handsome structure in the Scottish Baronial style in 188 3 -1884. Other charitable institutions include the hospital, John Watt's hospital and the smallpox hospital. The high school, built in 1806, for many years a familiar object on the west margin of the Links, gave way to the academy, a handsome and commodious structure, to which are drafted senior pupils from the numerous board schools for free education in the higher branches. Here also is accommodated the technical college. Secondary instruction is given also in Craighall Road school. A bronze statue of Robert Burns was unveiled in 1898. Leith Links, one of the homes of golf in Scotland, is a popular resort, on Lochend Road are situated Hawkhill recreation grounds, and Lochend Loch is used for skating and curling. There are small links at Newhaven, and in Trinity are Starbank Park and Cargilfield playing ground. The east pier (1177 yds. long) and the west pier (1041 yds.) are favourite promenades, The waterway between them is the entrance to the harbour. Leith cemetery is situated at Seafield and the Eastern cemetery in Easter Road.

The oldest industry is shipbuilding, which dates from 1313. Here in 1511 James IV. built the "St Michael," "ane verrie monstruous great ship, whilk tuik sae meikle timber that schee waisted all the woodis in Fyfe, except Falkland wood, besides the timber that cam out of Norroway." Other important industries are engineering, sugar-refining (established 1757), meat-preserving, flour-milling, sailcloth-making, soap-boiling, rope and twine-making, tanning, chemical manures-making, wood-sawing, hosiery, biscuit-baking, brewing, distilling and lime-juice making. Of the old trade of glass-making, which began in 1682, scarcely a trace survives. As a distributing, centre, Leith occupies a prominent place. It is the headquarters of the whisky business in Great Britain, and stores also large quantities of wine from Spain, Portugal and France. This pre-eminence is due to its excellent dock and harbour accommodation and capacious warehouses. The two old docks. (1801-1807) cover ' alacres; Victoria Dock (1852) 5 acres; Albert Dock (1863-1869) 104 acres; Edinburgh Dock (1874-1881) 163 acres; and the New Dock (1892-1901) 60 acres. There are several dry docks, of which the Prince of Wales Graving Dock (1858), the largest, measures 370 ft. by 60 ft. Space can always be had for more dock room by reclaiming the east sands, where in the 17th and 18th centuries Leith Races were held, the theme of a humorous descriptive poem by Robert Fergusson.. Apart from coasting trade there are constant sailings to the leading European ports, the United States and the British colonies. In 1908 the tonnage of ships entering the harbour was (including coastwise trade) 1,975,457; that of ships clearing the harbour 1,993,227. The number of vessels registered at the port was 213 (net tonnage 146,799). The value of imports was £12,883,890, of exports £5,377,188. In summer there are frequent excursions to the Bass Rock and the Isle of May, North Berwick, Elie, Aberdour, Alloa and Stirling. Leith Fort, built in North Leith in 1779 for the defence of the harbour, is. now the headquarters of the Royal Artillery in Scotland. Leith is the head of a fishery district. The town, which is governed by a provost, bailies and council, unites with Musselburgh and Portobello to send one member to parliament.

Leith figures as Inverleith in the foundation charter of Holyrood Abbey (1128). In 1329 Robert I. granted the harbour to the magistrates of Edinburgh, who did not always use their power wisely. They forbade, for example, the building of streets wide enough to admit a cart, a regulation that accounted for the number of narrow wynds and alleys in the town. Had the overlords been more considerate incorporation with Edinburgh would not have been so bitterly resisted. Several of the quaint bits of ancient Leith yet remain, and the appearance of the shore as it was in the 17th and 18th centuries, and even at a later date, was picturesque in the extreme. During the centuries of strife between Scotland and England its situation exposed the port to attack both by sea and land. At least twice (in 1313 and 1410) its shipping was burned by the English, who also sacked the town in 1544 - when the 1st earl of Hertford destroyed the first wooden pier - and 1547. In the troublous times that followed the death of James V., Leith became the stronghold of the Roman Catholic and French party from 1548 to 1560, Mary of Guise, queen regent, not deeming herself secure in Edinburgh. In 1549 the town was walled and fortified by Montalembert, sieur d'Esse, the commander of the French troops, and endured an ineffectual siege in 1560 by the Scots and their English allies. A house in Coalhill is thought to be the "handsome and spacious edifice" erected for her privy council by Mary of Guise. D'Esse's wall, pierced by six gates, was partly dismantled on the death of the queen regent, but although rebuilt in 1571, not a trace of it exists. The old tolbooth, in which William Maitland of Lethington, Queen Mary's secretary, poisoned himself in 1573, to avoid execution for adhering to Mary's cause, was demolished in 1819. Charles I. is said to have received the first tidings of the Irish rebellion while playing golf on the links in 1641. Cromwell in his Scottish campaign built the Citadel in 1650 and the mounds on the links, known as "Giant's Brae" and "Lady Fife's Brae," were thrown up by the Protector as batteries. In 1698 the sailing of the first Darien expedition created great excitement. In 1715 William Mackintosh of Borlum (1662-1743) and his force of Jacobite Highlanders captured the Citadel, of which only the name of Citadel Street and the archway in Couper Street have preserved the memory. A mile S.E. of the links lies the ancient village of Restalrig, the home of the Logans, from whom the superiority of Leith was. purchased in 1553 by the queen regent. Sir Robert Logan (d. 1606) was alleged to have been one of the Gowrie conspirators and to have arranged to imprison the king in Fast Castle. This charge, however, was not made until three years after his death, when his bones were exhumed for trial. He was then found guilty of high treason and sentence of forfeiture pronounced; but there is reason to suspect that the whole case was trumped up. The old church escaped demolition at the Reformation and even the fine east Leixoes window was saved. In the vaults repose Sir Robert and other Logans, besides several of the lords Balmerino, and Lord Brougham's father lies in the kirkyard. The well of St Triduana, which was reputed to possess wonderful curative powers, vanished when the North British railway was constructed.

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