Dean Village Edinburgh (Water of Leith Village)
The Dean Village Edinburgh with the Water of Leith flowing through, grew as a community in the 1100s from the mills that were built on the river banks. The most impressive building is of Well Court, built in 1886 by the then owner of the Scotsman newspaper Sir John Findlay. The court had its own hall for socialising with a clock tower a communal court yard and a number of tenements for local workers. You will see many stones carved with crossed paddles of the bakers, as this area supplied all the bakers of Edinburgh with there flour. The old Tolbooth was a Granary built in 1675. The stone carving shows the sign of the bakers crossed paddles. At the side of the bridge is Bell’s Brae House a merchant’s house built in the mid-1600s. On the pathway towards Leith under the Dean Bridge is an area called Miller’s Row where you can see three mill stones resting against each other previously used in the Granaries in the 1600s. 70 meters west of the bridge is a waterfall and there is a great variety of wild life. A resident near the waterfall is the Grey Heron and with luck you could spot wild otters.
Bell’s Brae Bridge / Water of Leith Bridge
In the centre of the Dean village is the Bells Brae Bridge (pictured right) the original crossing point of the Water of Leith. The Bells Brae Bridge is where the original crossing to Edinburgh was in the 5th century a single arch bridge wide enough for a carriage with horses. This was the only way across the Water of Leith and the main link on the route from Edinburgh to the Queens Ferry before the Belford Bridge and Dean Bridges were built diverting flow of traffic away from the Dean Village. This stands below the Belford Bridge which was built in 1887 to carry Belford Road, part of the old road from Edinburgh to Queensferry. Dean Village was a small village outside Edinburgh and was famous as a grain milling area for over 800 years, the name Dean (Dene) meaning Deep Gorge, as you can see the village has steep hills on all sides. It is now a popular residential area with the benefits of it’s proximity to the city centre.
Belford Bridge Dean Village Edinburgh
A single-arch stone bridge near to the same spot was built for ease of crossing at the foot of Bell’s Brae in the Dean Village previously of wooden construction. The river is the Water of Leith which flows from the Pentland Hills to the Port of Leith where it joins the Firth of Forth before joining the North Sea. There is a walk way at the side of the river with a visitors centre in Lanark Road that can give you detailed information on the best routes. The Water of Leith walkway extends from the Shore at Leith to Balerno a village suburb of Edinburgh over 19 km from the shore. The pathway is suitable for walking or cycling.
Inscription carved in the stone on the Belford Bridge is: BELFORD BRIDGE | ERECTED BY THE MAGISTRATES | AND TOWN COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF EDINBURGH | WITH THE AID OF THE LOCAL SUBSCRIPTIONS | OBTAINED BY THE BELFORD BRIDGE ASSOCIATION | OPENED BY | THE RT HON SIR THOMAS CLARK (BART) LORD PROVOST | JULY 1887
The Dean Bridge Edinburgh
The Dean Bridge was designed by Thomas Telford, took 3 years to build, was completed in 1831 and opened in 1832. The Dean Bridge was Thomas Telford’s last project before he died at the age of 77. Thomas Telford was born in Eskdale Scotland. The Dean Bridge is 447 feet long (136m) and 39 feet wide (12m) and built on four arches rising 106 feet (32m) above the river. Prior to the building of the Dean Bridge the only way across the river in to Edinburgh was by a ford in the river, which had been crossed since medieval times (5th to 15th centuries). A bridge, of wooden structure across the water of Leith was built in the 5th century.
Dean Bridge House
The house on the corner of the bridge was once a Tavern and Bakers, the square panel on the wall shows a sun with two arms below one holding scales and the other a wheat sheaf with two baker’s paddles crossed.
The inscription below reads: IN THE SWEAT OF THY FACE SHALT THOU | EAT BREAD GEN 3 VERSE 19 | ANNO DOM 1619
Whisky from the Dean Village Edinburgh
The Water of Leith around the area of the Dean Village Edinburgh was the site of a number of Distilleries which are now closed. The Sunbury and Dean Distillers both closed many years ago but you can still get the taste of the Dean Whisky as it is now made at the Loch Lomond Distillery to the same traditional recipe as it was made in the Dean Distillery from 1818 to 1922.