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Leith (; gd, Lìte) is a port area in the north of the city of
Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is ...

Edinburgh
, Scotland, founded at the mouth of the
Water of Leith The Water of Leith (Scottish Gaelic: ''Uisge Lìte'') is the main river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the groun ...

Water of Leith
. The earliest surviving historical references are in the royal charter authorising the construction of
Holyrood Abbey Holyrood Abbey is a ruined abbey of the Canons Regular in Edinburgh, Scotland. The abbey was founded in 1128 by David I of Scotland. During the 15th century, the abbey guesthouse was developed into a royal residence, and after the Scottish Ref ...

Holyrood Abbey
in 1128 in which it is termed ''Inverlet'' (Inverleith). After centuries of control by Edinburgh, Leith was made a separate burgh in 1833 only to be merged into Edinburgh in 1920. Leith is located on the southern coast of the
Firth of Forth The Firth of Forth ( gd, Linne Foirthe) is the estuary (firth) of several Scotland, Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. Name ''Firth'' is a cognate of ''fjord ...

Firth of Forth
and lies within the
City of Edinburgh Council The City of Edinburgh Council is the Local government in Scotland, local government authority for the Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh. It was created in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, with the boundaries of the post-1975 ...
area; since 2007 it has formed one of 17 multi-member wards of the city.


History

Leith has played a long and prominent role in Scottish history. As the major port serving Edinburgh, it has been the stage on which many significant events in Scottish history have taken place.


First settlement

The earliest evidence of settlement in Leith comes from several archaeological digs undertaken in The Shore area in the late 20th century. Amongst the finds were medieval wharf edges from the 12th century. This date fits with the earliest documentary evidence of settlement in Leith, the foundation charter of Holyrood Abbey.
Mary of Guelders Mary of Guelders (; c. 1434/1435 – 1 December 1463) was the queen consort of Scotland, queen of Scotland by marriage to King James II of Scotland. She ruled as regent of Scotland from 1460 to 1463. Background She was the daughter of Arno ...
, the bride of
James II James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701An assertion found in many sources that James died 6 September 1701 (17 September 1701 New Style) may result from a miscalculation done by an author of anonymou ...

James II
, arrived on 18 May 1449 and rested in the Convent of St Anthony.


1500s and Siege of Leith

The town was burnt by the
Earl of Hertford Earl () is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Old Norse, Scandinavian form ''jarl'', and meant "Germanic chieftain, chief ...
(on the orders of
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...

Henry VIII
) in retaliation for the rejection of the
Treaty of Greenwich The Treaty of Greenwich (also known as the Treaties of Greenwich) contained two agreements both signed on 1 July 1543 in Greenwich between representatives of England and Scotland. The accord, overall, entailed a plan developed by Henry VIII of En ...
by the
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
in 1543.
Mary of Guise Mary of Guise (french: Marie de Guise; 22 November 1515 – 11 June 1560), also called Mary of Lorraine, ruled Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland as regent from 1554 until her death. A noblewoman from the Lotharingian House of Guise, she played a prom ...
ruled Scotland from Leith in 1560 as
Regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
while her daughter,
Mary, Queen of Scots Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587), also known as Mary Stuart, was List of Scottish monarchs, Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567. Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King ...

Mary, Queen of Scots
remained in France. Mary of Guise moved the Scottish Court to Leith, to a site that is now Parliament Street, off Coalhill. According to the 18th-century historian William Maitland, her palace was situated on Rotten Row, now Water Street. Artifacts from the demolished residence are held by the
National Museum of Scotland The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland, was formed in 2006 with the merger of the new Museum of Scotland, with collections relating to Scottish antiquities, culture of Scotland, culture and History of Scotland, history, and the ...

National Museum of Scotland
, and her sculptured coat of arms, dated 1560, can be seen in
South Leith Parish Church South Leith Parish Church, originally the Kirk of Our Lady, St Mary, is a congregation of the Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is ...
. When the large French garrison stationed in Leith was attacked by Scottish Protestant lords, reinforced by troops and artillery sent from England, Mary of Guise was forced to shut herself in
Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle in Edinburgh, Scotland Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdi ...

Edinburgh Castle
. In June 1560, Mary of Guise died, and the
Siege of Leith The Siege of Leith ended a twelve-year encampment of French troops at Leith Leith (; gd, Lìte) is a port area in the north of the city of Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotla ...
ended with the departure of the French troops in accordance with the Treaty of Leith, also known as the
Treaty of Edinburgh The Treaty of Edinburgh (also known as the Treaty of Leith) was a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of na ...
. Two mounds on
Leith Links Leith Links ( gd, Fìghdean Lìte) is the principal open space within Leith, the docks district of Edinburgh, Scotland. This public park is divided by a road into two main areas, a western section and an eastern section, both being largely flat ...
, known as "Giant's Brae" and "Lady Fyfe's Brae", identified as Somerset's Battery and Pelham's Battery respectively, are believed to be artillery mounds created for the siege in April 1560 and are listed as scheduled monuments, but may be natural hillocks. The best documented day of the siege was 7 May 1560, when the English and Scots charged the walls of Leith with ladders that turned out to be too short. John Knox records the delight of Mary of Guise at the failure of the attack, and English sources report 1000 casualties. Late in 1561, Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived in Leith and, finding no welcoming party to receive her, made a brief stop at the "house of Andro Lamb ... beit the space of ane hour", before being collected and escorted by coach to
Holyrood Palace The Palace of Holyroodhouse ( or ), commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace or Holyroodhouse, is the official residence An official residence is the House, residence of nation's head of state, head of government, governor, Clergy, religious ...

Holyrood Palace
, to begin her ill-fated six-year-long reign. After the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots in 1567, during the ensuing civil war, troops fighting for
James VI of Scotland James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of gover ...
against his mother's supporters in Edinburgh Castle based themselves in Leith from 1571 to 1573, a period called the "Wars between Leith and Edinburgh". In January 1581 The Shore was the scene of a mock combat, involving an assault on the Pope's
Castel Sant'Angelo The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant'Angelo (; English: ''Castle of the Holy Angel''), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , found ...

Castel Sant'Angelo
built on boats, for the marriage of Elizabeth Stuart, 2nd Countess of Moray and
James Stewart James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military pilot. Known for his distinctive drawl and everyman screen persona, Stewart's film career spanned 80 films from 1935 to 1991. With the strong morality h ...

James Stewart
for the entertainment of guests including James VI. In 1590, James's wife,
Anne of Denmark Anne of Denmark (; 12 December 1574 – 2 March 1619) was Queen of Scotland, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotlan ...

Anne of Denmark
, was lodged in the
King's Wark John Chisholm, 16th-century Scottish soldier and chief officer, Comptroller and ''Prefect'' of the Scottish artillery for Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI of Scotland, and keeper of the King's Wark in Leith. Chisholm was a supporter of Mary, Quee ...
when she arrived.


1600s

In 1622 there was conflict between privateer " Dunkirker ships" flying the Spanish flag and ships from the
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was ...
.
King James
King James
allowed a Dunkirker to lie at Leith road in June 1622, and soldiers from the ship were able to come ashore at Leith. Three Dutch ships, commanded by Willem de Zoete, Lord of Hautain,
Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...
of
Zeeland , nl, Ik worstel en kom boven("I struggle and emerge") , anthem = "Zeeuws volkslied"("Zeelandic Anthem") , image_map = Zeeland in the Netherlands.svg , map_alt = , m ...

Zeeland
, arrived and attacked the Dunkirker through the night. The fighting stopped in the morning when the tide beached the ships. The Scottish authorities requested the fighting stop. The ships were allowed into Leith harbour where artillery from the Edinburghg was placed to ensure order. Leith suffered during the 1645 plague outbreak, with over 50% of the population in the southern district dying. Archaeological excavations in 2016 at St Mary's RC Primary School, by Wardell Armstrong, as part of a planning condition found, a mass grave of 81 bodies from the 1645 plague. The archaeologists surmised that there was extreme fear of dying from this plague, likely
Pneumonic
Pneumonic
, as many of the bodies were hastily buried in their clothes and still had money and other personal items on them, indicating that people did not want to touch the bodies, even to remove money. In 1650, Leith was a prospective battleground when the Army of the Covenant, led by General David Leslie, threw up an earthen rampart between
Calton Hill Calton Hill () is a hill in central Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian ...

Calton Hill
and Leith to defend the northern approach to Edinburgh against
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led armies An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" e ...

Oliver Cromwell
's forces. This rampart became the line of one of Edinburgh's longest streets,
Leith Walk Leith Walk is one of the longest streets in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the main road connecting the port area of Leith to the centre of the city. Forming the majority of the A900 road, it slopes upward from 'the Foot of the Walk' at the north-e ...

Leith Walk
. After Cromwell's victory at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 and subsequent occupation of Scotland, a fort known as ''Leith Citadel'' was erected in 1656 to regulate the port traffic. All that remains of the fort today is a vaulted trance in Dock Street which was its main entrance.


1700s

During the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colon ...
the Scot,
John Paul Jones John Paul Jones (born John Paul; July 6, 1747 July 18, 1792) was a Scottish-American naval captain who was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–17 ...

John Paul Jones
, who, with John Barry, is credited as founder of the
US Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh "Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval A ...
, set sail on 14 August 1779 as commodore of a squadron of seven ships with the intention of destroying British commerce in the North Sea. He intended to capture the port of Leith and hold it for ransom, but his plan was thwarted when a gale on 16 September kept him at the mouth of the Firth of Forth. The scare he caused led to the hasty erection of Leith Fort, with a battery of nine guns, designed by James Craig, the architect of Edinburgh's New Town, and built in 1780. A Georgian terrace to the north-east served as officers' quarters, and was known as "London Row" because, being brick-built, it looked more like a London terrace than any in Edinburgh. The fort was in active use until 1955, latterly serving for
National Service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription is mandatory national service. The term ''national service'' comes from the United Kingdom's National Service (Armed Forces ...

National Service
training. Most of the barracks were demolished to build a Council housing scheme centred on Fort House and enclosed by the old fort walls. The Council development was an award-winning scheme in its day (1955), but the building was demolished in January 2013 and the site has been redeveloped with new low-density housing, again award-winning. A pair of the old fort's gatehouses survive at the southern entrance to the scheme. From the twelfth century South Leith was part of the parish of
Restalrig Restalrig () is a small residential suburb of Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of ...
and had no church of its own. After the
Scottish Reformation The Scottish Reformation was the process by which Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic lang ...
the principal parish
kirk Kirk is a Scottish (and former Northern English) word meaning "church". It is often used specifically of the Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language nam ...

kirk
for Leith was South Leith Parish Church, originally constructed in 1483. In June 1811 a census gave the population of South Leith as 15,938; North Leith 4,875. With a procession and ceremony, the foundation stone of the new church for the parish of North Leith was laid on 11 April 1814. Leith was the port of entry for the
visit of King George IV to Scotland The visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822 was the first visit of a reigning monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on ...
, 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, and this Monarch was welcomed by the
High Constabulary of the Port of Leith (Leith High Constables) High Constabulary of the Port of Leith was founded in the late 17th century, to deal with safety in the royal port and behaviour in streets of the port of Leith near Edinburgh, Scotland. It continues to this day as a List of law enforcement agenci ...
. A painting of the occasion hung in Leith Town Hall, now Leith Police station.


1800s

On 20 May 1806, there was a procession of the
Lord Provost of Edinburgh The Right Honourable Lord Provost of Edinburgh is the convener of the City of Edinburgh local authority. They are elected by City_of_Edinburgh_Council, the city council and serves not only as the chair of that body, but as a figurehead for the ...
,
Baillie A bailie or baillie is a civic officer in the local government of Scotland Local government in Scotland is organised through 32 unitary authority, unitary authorities designated as ''councils'' which consist of councillors elected every five ...
s, 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 Scotland. The
Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council areas of Scotland, council area, Historic counties of Scotland, historic county, registration county and lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. It is situated between 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 Leith 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 "Three In One" , formation = , founding_location = Deptford, London, England , status = Royal Charter corporation and registered charity , purpose = Maintenance of lighthouses, buoys and beacons , he ...
in Kirkgate was erected in Grecian architectural style at an expense of £2500. In 1809, the Tally Toor, a
martello tower Martello towers, sometimes known simply as Martellos, are small defensive forts A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for ...

martello tower
was constructed to defend the entrance of the harbour during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
. It is now a scheduled monument within the port. 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 very unsatisfactory, and half of Leith was provided with no municipal government whatever or any local
magistrate The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– ...
s. 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 Portobello, Porto Bello, Porto Belo, or Portabello may refer to: Places Brazil * Porto Belo Ireland * Portobello, Dublin * Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin formerly ''Portobello Barracks'' New Zealand * Portobello, New Zealand, on Otago Peninsula ...
and
Musselburgh Musselburgh (; sco, Musselburrae; gd, Baile nam Feusgan) is the largest settlement in East Lothian East Lothian (; sco, East Lowden; gd, Lodainn an Ear) is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, as well as a Counties of Scotland, ...

Musselburgh
was represented by one
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
(MP). On 1 November 1833, Leith became a separate
Municipal Burgh
Municipal Burgh
, with its own provost, magistrates, and council, and was no longer run by bailies. Historically the Lord Provost of Edinburgh was virtue officii Admiral of the
Firth of Forth The Firth of Forth ( gd, Linne Foirthe) is the estuary (firth) of several Scotland, Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. Name ''Firth'' is a cognate of ''fjord ...

Firth of Forth
, the Provost of Leith was Admiral of the port, and his four bailies were admirals-depute.
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
Nicholas II Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov . ( 186817 July 1918), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, . was the last Emperor of All Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until Abdication of Nicholas II ...

Nicholas II
of Russia arrived by sea at Leith with his family and suite on Tuesday 22 September 1896. Scottish anarchist Thomas Hastie Bell managed to get in his face to criticize him.


1900s and 2000s

Leith was the scene of the Dockers strike in 1913 recounted in the book ''Red Scotland'' Continued growth meant that Leith and Edinburgh formed a contiguous urban area. Leith was merged with Edinburgh on 1 November 1920 despite a
plebiscite A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...

plebiscite
in which the people of Leith voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the merger. The population of Leith at the time of the merger was 80,000 representing 20% of the population in around 5% of the city area, reflecting the town's high density. It was Scotland's sixth largest town at the time of the merger. Until 1923 there was no through tram service between Leith and Edinburgh; at the boundary in Leith Walk it was necessary to change from a
Leith tram
Leith tram
(electrically powered) to an Edinburgh tram (cable hauled) until the electrification of the
Edinburgh Corporation Tramways Edinburgh Corporation Tramways formerly served the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. The city used four-wheeled Double-decker tram, double-decked trams painted dark red (Rose madder, madder) and white – a livery still used by Lothian Buses and the ...
in the early 1920s.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 Her Majesty's Yacht ''Britannia'', also known as the Royal Yacht ''Britannia'', is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since Charles II of England, Ki ...

Royal Yacht Britannia
, the Ocean Terminal
shopping centre A shopping center (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United Sta ...

shopping centre
, and administrative offices for several departments of the
Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved government of Scotland. It was formed in 1999 as the Scottish Executive following the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 referendum on S ...
. The council and government's 'Leith Project' provided a further economic boost. The shore area of Leith, once unattractive, 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 The MTV Europe Music Awards (originally named MTV European Music Awards, commonly abbreviated as MTV EMA) are awards presented by Viacom International Media Networks Europe, Viacom International Media Networks to honour artists and music in pop ...
, with a temporary venue being built next to Ocean Terminal.


Traditional industries

Leith was Scotland's leader in several industries for many centuries. Of these the most notable are: * Glass – the Leith Glassworks stood on Baltic Street and dated from 1746. There is also some reference to earlier glass production from 1682 at Leith Citadel. Leith specialised in wine bottles, largely for export to France and Spain. At its peak (c.1770) production was one million bottles per week. The Leith pattern bottle is the parallel-sided, round shouldered, narrow neck bottle now dominant within the wine industry. Around 1770 the company branched into lead crystal glass, mainly for
chandelier A chandelier (; also known as girandole A Girandole (from French, in turn from Italian language, Italian ''girandola'') is an ornamental branched candlestick or light fixture consisting of several lights, often resembling a small chandelier. ...

chandelier
s. This was under a new company name of the
Edinburgh Crystal Image:Star Collection.jpg, 300px, Star of Edinburgh bowl, basket and bell from about 1955 Edinburgh Crystal was a cut glass Lead crystal, crystal manufactured in Scotland between 1867 and 2006, and was also the name of the manufacturing company. In ...
Company but stood on the same site in Leith (ironically this company has never truly been in "Edinburgh"). *Soap – the Anchor Soapworks was established on Water Street around 1680. This largely used whale oil in its production. This survived until around 1930. * Wine and whisky storage – wine storage in Leith dates from at least the early 16th century, notably being connected with the Vaults on Henderson Street from this time. At its peak there were around 100 warehouses storing wine and brandy. In the late 1880s, due to the collapse of wine harvest in Europe, most of these were "converted" for the storage of whisky used in the growing business of whisky blending and bottling. Important in this business were William Sanderson with
Vat 69 Vat 69 is a blended whisky, blended Scotch whisky created by William Sanderson & Son Limited of South Queensferry, Scotland, now part of Diageo. History William Sanderson was born in Leith, Scotland January 27, 1839. He started an apprentices ...
, John Crabbie who also produced green ginger wine, and Macdonald & Muir who later bought the
Glenmorangie distillery Glenmorangie (pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: ; the toponym is believed to derive from either Scottish Gaelic, Gaelic ''Gleann Mòr na Sìth'' "glen, vale of tranquillity" or ''Gleann Mór-innse'' "glen, vale of big meadows" ...

Glenmorangie distillery
. Around 85 bonded warehouses stood in Leith in the 1960s. The last bond, on Water Street, closed around 1995. An offshoot to the wine industry were several vinegar works. * Lime juice –
Rose's lime juice Rose's lime juice, often known simply as Rose's, is a concentrated fruit juice patented in 1867.Made in Scotland, Carol Foreman, This was the world's first commercially produced fruit concentrate. Background In 1753, James Lind discovered that c ...
was founded by Lachlan Rose in Leith on Commercial Street in 1868. This was originally and primarily focussed upon provision of
vitamin C Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate) is a vitamin A vitamin is an organic molecule , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain ca ...

vitamin C
to seamen. * Shipbuilding – originally centred on the Water of Leith and limited in scale due to the shallow water, Leith's shipbuilding started to fade as vessels increased in size. Latterly Leith built specialised ship types: tugs, hotel ships, cable-layers etc. Whilst the most notable large shipyard
Henry Robb Henry Robb, Limited, known colloquially as Robbs, was a Scottish shipbuilding company A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where ships are Shipbuilding, built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or oth ...
's, closed in 1983 this was technically outlived by a very small shipbuilder on Sheriff Brae (run by the Scottish Co-operative Society) which closed around 1988. The most notable ships built in Leith are the
SS Sirius
SS Sirius
, one of the first steamships to cross the Atlantic, and SS Copenhagen one of the largest rigged ships ever built. Robb's yard also made a great contribution to the RN and MN during the Second World War, building forty-two vessels for the Royal Navy, fourteen merchant ships and refitted and repaired nearly 3,000 ships of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy. This means that one new ship was launched on an average every six weeks and a ship repaired every day of this long and bloody conflict. The RN list included Flower and Castle Class Corvettes and River, Loch and Bay Class Frigates (se
Leith built ships 1939–45
. * Lead – Scotland's largest leadworks stood on the corner of Mitchell Street and Constitution Street. Founded around 1760 the operational part worked until the 1970s and the empty buildings stood until the late 1980s. The offices, on
Constitution Street Constitution Street is a thoroughfare in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. It runs north from the junction of Leith Walk, Great Junction Street and Duke Street, Edinburgh, Duke Street to Leith docks. The street takes its name from Constitution Hill, ...
, still survive. The company specialised in lead pipes for water supply and lead drainpipes. They also produced lead sheet for roofing and lead shot for weapons. * Whaling – originally focussed on local, and Icelandic waters (the last whale in the
Firth of Forth The Firth of Forth ( gd, Linne Foirthe) is the estuary (firth) of several Scotland, Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. Name ''Firth'' is a cognate of ''fjord ...

Firth of Forth
was caught in 1834); by the mid 19th century ships were travelling to the
Antarctic The Antarctic (US English or , UK English or and or ) is a around 's , opposite the region around the . The Antarctic comprises the continent of , the and other located on the or south of the . The Antarctic region includes the , wa ...

Antarctic
. In the early 1900s, the
Christian Salvesen Christian Salvesen was a Scottish whaling, transport and logistics company with a long and varied history, employing 13,000 staff and operating in seven countries in western Europe. In December 2007, it was acquired by France, French listed tra ...

Christian Salvesen
company developed significant interests in whaling, initially in the Arctic, and then in the Antarctic. Among their many whaling stations in the South Atlantic, they established and operated from a base on the island of South Georgia, south east of the Falkland Islands at
Leith Harbour Leith Harbour (), also known as Port Leith, was a whaling station on the northeast coast of South Georgia Island, South Georgia, established and operated by Christian Salvesen, Christian Salvesen Ltd, Edinburgh. The station was in operation fr ...
(named for their base in Scotland). South Georgia later came to fame at the beginning of the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
). The company moved from Leith to the Fettes area of Edinburgh around 1980 and then left Edinburgh altogether in the mid-1990s. The founder,
Christian Salvesen Christian Salvesen was a Scottish whaling, transport and logistics company with a long and varied history, employing 13,000 staff and operating in seven countries in western Europe. In December 2007, it was acquired by France, French listed tra ...

Christian Salvesen
is buried in Rosebank Cemetery. Whaling ships from Leith brought the very first penguins to Edinburgh Zoo around 1900. * Fishing - During the 19th century Leith became an important entrepôt for the Scottish herring trade, with exports peaking at 388,899 barrels in 1907.


Geography

After decades of industrial decline, deindustrialisation,
slum clearance Slum clearance, slum eviction or slum removal is an urban renewal Urban renewal (also called urban regeneration in the United Kingdom and urban redevelopment in the United States) is a program of land redevelopment often used to address urban ...
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 chain of Malmaison hotels in a conversion of a seamen's mission, whilst 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 also helped by the decision of the then
Scottish Office The Scottish Office was a department of the United Kingdom Government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingd ...
to site their new offices in Leith Docks (just north of the old infilled East Dock). The site was chosen as part of a design-and-build competition against other sites at Haymarket and Marionville. It was completed in 1994. The hoped for influx of well-paid civil service jobs failed to have much local impact as most commute to the office, and only a small percentage venture beyond the confines of the office during lunchtimes. It did further foster Leith's growing reputation as a white-collar, small business location. Further large-scale service and tourist development followed, including Ocean Terminal and the permanently moored Royal Yacht Britannia. An extension to the new Edinburgh Tramway system, connecting Ocean Terminal and the Scottish Executive building area by the new
Edinburgh Trams Edinburgh Trams is a tramway in Edinburgh, Scotland, operated by Edinburgh Trams Ltd. it is a line between York Place in the New Town, Edinburgh, New Town and Edinburgh Airport, with 16 tram stops, stops. Construction began in June 2008, a ...
by the ''Port of Leith'' is now being constructed (2021) with completion due in early 2023. This will connect with Newhaven and eventually form a loop back to central Edinburgh. This new direct link to the city centre will provide a rapid and convenient route which it is hoped will be used by tourists as well as regular commuters. 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. The planned development, which was given supplementary planning guidance by
The City of Edinburgh Council The City of Edinburgh Council is the Local government in Scotland, local government authority for the Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh. It was created in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, with the boundaries of the post-1975 ...
in 2004, was a small town with up to 17,000 new homes.


Area

Streets in Leith include
Constitution Street Constitution Street is a thoroughfare in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. It runs north from the junction of Leith Walk, Great Junction Street and Duke Street, Edinburgh, Duke Street to Leith docks. The street takes its name from Constitution Hill, ...
, Great Junction Street, Henderson Street,
Bernard Street Bernard Street is a thoroughfare in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. It runs west north westerly from the junction of Constitution Street and Baltic Street to meet the Water of Leith at The Shore. It forms the northern boundary of what was known in th ...
,
Leith Walk Leith Walk is one of the longest streets in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the main road connecting the port area of Leith to the centre of the city. Forming the majority of the A900 road, it slopes upward from 'the Foot of the Walk' at the north-e ...

Leith Walk
and Easter Road, Edinburgh, Easter Road. One of the areas is Timber Bush. Until it's amalgamation with Edinburgh in 1920, the southern-most town border was the middle of Pilrig Street. The area of Newhaven, Edinburgh, Newhaven, once a fishing village, borders Leith to the west while Seafield and Restalrig border to the east. Following the development of Edinburgh's New Town, Edinburgh, New Town, an area to the west of Leith, flanking Ferry Road, was developed at the end of the 18th century. Building was sporadic with only certain sections following the original feuing. Many streets are named after events or people of the time: *Pitt Street, after William Pitt the Younger the then Prime Minister *Trafalgar Street, after the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) *Prince Regent Street, after the then George IV of the United Kingdom, Prince George *Portland Place, Portland Terrace and Portland Street (Albany Street until 1966), after the William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, Duke of Portland Leith Fort and battery was built in 1780. This was demolished in 1955 having continued to serve a military function until that time. A housing scheme was then built on its site by Edinburgh Corporation, the main part being named Fort House. Two 22-storey blocks, Cairngorm House and Grampian House on the north edge of the development were removed in the mid-1990s while the main block was demolished late in 2012. Some equivalent, less structured Georgian development happened on the east side of Leith, again their date evidenced in street names: *Wellington Place, after the Duke of Wellington *Queen Charlotte Street, after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Charlotte, the consort of George III of the United Kingdom, George III. *Elbe Street, after Leith's trading links.


Religion

Leith has several notable historic churches, including North Leith Parish Church and South Leith Parish Church (both of the Church of Scotland), and the Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic St Mary's Star of the Sea Church, Leith, St Mary's Star of the Sea. The area has Sikhism, Sikh and Hinduism, Hindu temples, a Shia Islam, Shia imambargah, a Sunni Islam, Sunni mosque and community centre, a Pentecostal centre and a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. It also has a former Norwegian Church Abroad, Norwegian church, which is home now to the Leith School of Art.


Transport

A regular stage coach service ran between Bernard Street and Edinburgh's Old Town from the mid-18th century. By 1863 this had become a horse-drawn omnibus running every 5 minutes from 9am to 10pm. This was put on tracks sometime around 1880 effectively then becoming a horse-drawn tram. Leith was the first town in Scotland to electrify its tram system (1905). Leith Corporation Tramways were merged into Edinburgh Corporation Tramways as part of the 1920 merger of the two burgh councils. Tram services ran until 1956 and were then replaced by buses due to the contemporary perception of their greater flexibility. In the mid-nineteenth century the railways came. Leith had one horse-drawn line pre-dating steam-trains, bringing coal from Dalkeith to a station at the north end of Constitution Street, to serve the glassworks there. This dated from the late 18th century. Steam trains arrived in the 1840s, being some of the earliest lines in Britain. When the railways were at their height, Leith had four passenger stations and many goods stations. However, in the 1960s, the Beeching cuts, Beeching report recommended the closure of almost all of Leith's railway infrastructure. Today, only one freight line that connects to the dock remains in use. Although there are no longer any passenger rail services serving Leith, two station buildings partially remain: *Leith Central railway station, Leith Central, on the corner of Leith Walk and Duke Street. The station clock, offices and public house (Central Bar) remain. *Leith Citadel railway station, Leith Citadel, on Commercial Street. The building is now a youth centre. The SS Sirius (1837), SS ''Sirius'' (built in Leith) beat the SS Great Western, SS ''Great Western'' by one day in being the first steamship to cross the Atlantic but, as a much smaller ship, was eclipsed by the press coverage given to the larger ship. Leith offered ferry services to many European ports, including Hamburg and Oslo. Today, Leith is served by various bus services provided by Lothian Buses. A tram service was due to serve Leith in 2011 by
Edinburgh Trams Edinburgh Trams is a tramway in Edinburgh, Scotland, operated by Edinburgh Trams Ltd. it is a line between York Place in the New Town, Edinburgh, New Town and Edinburgh Airport, with 16 tram stops, stops. Construction began in June 2008, a ...
. However, due to construction and funding issues, the section of the line towards Leith was cancelled. In 2021, construction work began to extend the trams to Leith which has been widely condemned by the public due to a large amount of perceived disruption in the area.


Culture and community

Leith has a long history of pioneering social advances, some of which were the first of their kind in Scotland: All boys were educated for free from 1555 onwards. This was paid for by the local trade guilds. All girls were educated from 1820, a long time after the boys, but a very early example of free education for females (only required by law from 1876). A free hospital service was provided from 1777, paid for by a local 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 flowed into the Water of Leith. The iron seal over the end of the sewer is still visible next to Bernard Street bridge. The sewage is now pumped in the opposite direction (it was laid to fall westwards) to Seafield. Leith was formerly a port linked to the trade of the Hanseatic League. Today it is a multicultural community with sizeable British African-Caribbean community, African-Caribbean, British Asian, Asian and Eastern European participation. Other historic incomers have included 19th century Irish, Italian immigrants (See Henderson Street) and various refugee groups from the world wars and upheavals of the early 20th century. Leith is also home to The Queen's former floating Royal residence, the Royal Yacht Britannia, now a five-star visitor attraction and evening events venue permanently berthed at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, built on reclaimed dockland.


Educational establishments

Leith is home to Leith Academy, one of the oldest schools in Scotland, and to the Leith School of Art, which along with Glasgow School of Art is one of only two independent art schools in Scotland.


Media and art

Festivals occur throughout the year, including Leith Festival, Leith Late festival, PLU Parents Like Us and the Edinburgh Mela on Leith Links, part of the Edinburgh Festival since 2010. The Leith Gala, now known as Leith Festival Gala Day is an annual event that has taken place since 1907; it was originally a charity event to raise sponsorship for local hospital beds before the National Health came into place. It has developed into the community-based Leith Festival. Leith houses a notable number of cultural arts studios and small independent businesses, including the Leith Theatre on Ferry Road, Leith School of Art in North Junction Street, WASP Studios by The Shore and Out of the Blue in the former Dalmeny Street drill hall. Leith FM (later renamed Castle FM) started as a week-long RSL station during the late 1990s, linked to Leith Festival. A few years of annual 28-day broadcasts later, the station bid for and won a permanent community radio licence and broadcast for several years on 98.8 FM and online. In December 2013, Leith Dockers Club locked the station out of its rented premises, due to the "substantial" debt it was owed by the station, and the future of the station is currently in doubt.


In popular culture

The 2002 open-world videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City features a golf course named "Leaf Links" in possible reference to the Leith Links park where golf was partially invented. The game was developed by Rockstar North who were at the time based on Leith Street in Edinburgh New Town, Edinburgh's New Town. Irvine Welsh had his Channel 4 drama ''Wedding Belles'' (2007) filmed in Henderson Street. Welsh's novel ''Trainspotting (novel), Trainspotting'' and its prequel, ''Skagboys'' concern a group of drug users living in the Leith area in the 1980s and numerous local landmarks are referenced. Trainspotting Tours take place during the Leith Festival. The BBC drama ''Guilt (British TV series), Guilt'' is set in Leith, with filming locations including the Eastern Cemetery. The show is written by Neil Forsyth, a former Leith resident and stars Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives both of whom attended Leith Academy.


Ethnicity


Sport

Leith is the home of Hibernian F. C., Hibernian Football Club which is a member of the Scottish Premiership. Leith Athletic F.C., Leith Athletic Football Club have been part of Leith's sporting culture since their foundation in 1887 until closure in 1955. Reformed in 1996 they amalgamated with Edinburgh Athletic in 2008 and achieved promotion to the East of Scotland Premier Division in 2011. They host home games at Peffermill 3G. Leith Links have been used a sports and recreation area over many centuries. Leith is significant in the historical development of the Rules of golf#History, rules of golf, as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers played there before moving to Musselburgh Links and later Muirfield. The official rules of golf, initially formulated at Leith in 1744, were later adopted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. The only difference introduced with those rules (which remain the rules of golf) was the omission of one rule to do with hazards such as trenches. From at least 1600 until 1816, Leith Races were held on Leith Sands, an area immediately north of the present Links and now built over. They were long regarded as one of Scotland's most important horse race meetings before racing moved to Musselburgh permanently from 1816 onwards. Leith Links also have one of the longest established cricket pitches in Scotland, from 1820.


Former Provosts

Source: * Adam White (1760–1843), served 1833–1839 * James Reoch (1768–1845), served 1839–1845 * Thomas Hutchison (1796–1852), served 1845–1848 * George Adiston McLaren (1801–1881), served 1848–1851 * Robert Philip (d.1887), served 1851–1855 * James Taylor (1800–1890), served 1855–1860 * William Lindsay (shipowner), William Lindsay FRSE (1819–1884), served 1860–1866 * James Watt (1806–1881), served 1866–1875 * Dr John Henderson (1818–1901), served 1875–1881, instigated the Leith Improvement Plan * James Pringle (Provost), James Pringle FRSE (1822–1886), served 1881–1886 * Dr John Henderson (1818–1901), served second term 1886–1887 following Pringle's death in office * Thomas Aitken (1833–1912), served 1887–1893 * John Bennet (1820–1902), served 1893–1899 * Sir Richard Mackie (1851–1923), served 1899–1908 * Malcolm Smith (Scottish politician), Malcolm Smith (1856–1935), served 1908–1917 * John Allan Lindsay (1865–1942), served 1917–1920, the final Provost of Leith


Famous residents


See also

* Mercantilism * Cleanse the Causeway


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * *


External links


The Leither Magazine
a free-community centric magazine covering news, culture, reviews and blogs ''from the edges of Edinburgh''
Leith Festival
a community based festival * {{Authority control Leith, Irish diaspora in Scotland History of Edinburgh Royal burghs Ports and harbours of Scotland Port cities and towns of the North Sea Red-light districts in Scotland