Leith Area Edinburgh

Leith area Edinburgh or originally inverlet ‘the mouth of the Water of Leith’ which was two villages one on each side of the river estuary North and South Leith which were first joined by a bridge in 1493 and the oldest building that remains is St Ninian’s at the shore. Leith was chartered to Edinburgh by Robert the Bruce in 1329 giving the powers of Edinburgh control of Leith. In 1920 Leith became a part of Edinburgh.

Coat of Arms Leith from Mercat Cross Edinburgh

Porters’ Stone Tolbooth Wynd Leith area Edinburgh 

The Porters Stone or Stingmans Plaque was originally in Tolbooth Wynd before it was moved to Sugarhouse Close Leith, then was put for safekeeping in the National Museum Edinburgh, the copy in Henderson street of the original carving 1670 gives a picture of how wines and spirits were transported from Leith. Leith was the main supplier of Wine to Edinburgh with circa 250,000 p.a. The Stingmen were the workers at the warehouse that moved the barrels of wine. 

 Porters' Stone Henderson Street Leith Copy   Porters' Stone Leith in National Museum of Scotland

Leith Vaults Leith area Edinburgh 

Leith’s oldest warehouse and cellar for wine is the Vaults in Leith previously known as the Black Vouts. The oldest part of the Vaults now is 1682, but were on this site much earlier possibly circa 1540.

The Vaults Leith Wine Warehouse 1670

Mount Falcon Battery Site Leith area Edinburgh 

This is said to be where Officer Falcon had an artillery battery in the siege of leith in 1560.

Mount Falcon Battery Plaque Leith

Leith Improvement Scheme Memorial Stone and First Artisan’s Dwellings

Henderson Street was built as part of the Leith Improvement Scheme, a Bill which became an Act of Parliament known as the Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Act, Henderson Street was named after Dr John Henderson the lord Provost of Leith from 1875 to 1881 The area Henderson street was built on was previously over a dozen close’s which had terrible living conditions.

 Coat of Arms Leith from Mercat Cross Edinburgh  Leith Improvement Scheme Memorial Stone  

Leith Provident Buildings Leith

The Leith Provident Co-operative Society built their first department store in 1911 on Great Junction Street Leith. 

 Leith Provident Plaque Leith 1911  Leith Provident Plaque Leith 1911


Leith Links Home of Golf

Leith Links is where the first rules of golf where written in 1744 for a golf tournament, 13 rules in all. There had only been 5 rules players had played to before. The oldest golf course to be mentioned in history is in fact Bruntsfield Links with the oldest golf club house the Golf Tavern. Which is where the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers were first based as were the oldest golfing society the Burghers (Royal Burgess Golfing Society incorporated in 1735. Leith Links course has the honour of the first official tournament to rules.  

 Leith Links Home of Golf Plaque The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers Plaque Layout of Leith Golf Course Leith Links 1744

 Leith Links Golf Course Stone

Giants’ Brae Leith Links

The are two small hills on Leith Links which both have names, the one pictured is “Giant’s Brae” and the other is “Lady Fyfe’s Brae”, these were said to be constructed as artillery mounds dated from 1560 when the siege of Leith took place.

Giant's Brae Leith Links

West Bowling Green Street Bridge

William Beatson was the engineer that built the bridge in west bowling Green Street in 1886. It is a Single span bridge with a single cobbled road which spans the Water of Leith. The road is now pedestrian only and can be accessed from The Quilts or west Bowling Green Street. 

Leith Assembly Rooms and Exchange Building Leith

The exchange buildings were built by subscription as a meeting place for merchants, which included the Assembly Rooms that opened in 1785 and an extension in 1810 which was the Leith Exchange. This was where everything from commerce to entertainment was centred.


Corn Exchange Leith

The Corn Exchange building was built in 1861 marketing hall to deal with the sale and purchase of agricultural goods. The building has a frieze which runs down the Constitution Street side of the building which depicts cherubs at work in the agricultural services. The frieze was sculpted by John Rhind.


Lamb’s House Leith

Lamb’s House was built in 1610, was one of the finest merchant’s houses in Scotland. It was built by a merchant called Andrew Lamb a member of the lamb family who lived in the Leith area for circa 200 years. As the date of May Queen of Scots landing was prior to this it is unlikely to be the same house. It is more likely to be the King’s Wark that she waited as this was for the upper class and royalty.


St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church

St Mary Star of the Sea was built mainly due to the emigration of Irish families due to the potato famine between 1845 and 1849. Many Irish Catholics families came to Leith and there was a lack of Catholic churches to satisfy the large congregations. The Church of St Mary Star of the Sea was Completed in 1854 and is within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.


The Citadel Leith

The Citadel Archway is the only remains of Leith Citadel built by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1656. Located next to what was St Ninian’s Church. When the Citadel was first built it stood alone next to the beach. Leith was fought over by the English and French and eventually a treaty was signed. The Citadel was a fortification where retreating troops would go when the main walls of the city defences were breached. Leith Citadel was one of the largest as its location to Edinburgh made it an important site to control. The other Citadels that were built were in Perth Inverness, Ayr and (Inverlochy) now Fort William. In 1827 Leith became an independent Parliamentary Burgh which lasted less than 100 years as in 1920 it became a part of Edinburgh. The first recorded mention of Leith was in 1143. Leith was so important that even the American Navy under John Paul Jones tried to capture the port of Leith.


Kinloch Anderson Heritage Room Museum

Kinloch Anderson was started in 1868 by William Anderson and his two sons in Edinburgh’s George Street. It has Royal warrants of appointment and is a global name in tailoring. The Museum tells the story of the Kinloch Anderson Family business from its start in 1868.  

Kinloch Anderson Museum

 Leith Town Hall Leith area Edinburgh 

The Town Hall on the corner of Constitution Street and Queens Charlotte Street was built in 1828. A new Town Hall was open in 1929 after leith joined Edinburgh but was nearly destroyed by bombings in 1941 during the 2nd World War.


North Leith Parish Church

North Leith Parish Church opened in 1816 and remains as it was built to this day. It was required due to the overcrowding of the nearby St Ninian’s.(pictured below right). The building was designed by William Burn a highly talented architect of Edinburgh.


Leith Fort Leith area Edinburgh 

Leith fort was designed by James Craig of Edinburgh and the Fort was constructed in 1780. The Royal Artillery occupied the fort in 1793. The Fort was increased in size during the Napoleonic War to accommodate French prisoners. Leith Fort saw no action and was man with a battalion until 1957. A that remains of the fort is part of the walls and the two gate houses. There are also a number of canon still on site.



Leith Bank Building Leith

Leith Bank was established in 1792 and printed Leith bank notes and was trading from its premises in Bernard Street from 1806. It was common place for towns in Scotland to print their own money. The funding would come from local wealth merchants.  Leith Bank did not stay open long as it closed due to lack of funds in 1842.

leith bank Bernard Street leith Edinburgh

Robert Burns Statue Leith

Robert Burns died at the age of 37. He was known as the Ploughman poet. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. Burns was born two miles south of Ayr, in Alloway South Ayrshire, Scotland. Robert Burns was the eldest of seven children.  He travelled the world and had many love interests and had 9 children. Robert Burns is buried in St. Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries, Scotland. Robert Burns’ brother Gilbert Burns (1760 – 1827) and mother, Agnes Broun 17 March 1732 – 14 January 1820 (and later his sister Annabella) moved to Bolton East Lothian from Ayrshire. Gilbert oversaw the building of the new Bolton parish church which was completed in 1809. The cottage at Grant’s Brae is no longer there, the house was demolished and a roadside monument stands in its place. No more than one hundred yards northeast lies the drinking well used by the Burns family. It was lovingly restored in 1932 and dedicated to Agnes Broun. The dedication states: “Drink of the pure crystals and not only be ye succoured but also refreshed in the mind. To the mortal and immortal memory and in noble tribute to her, who not only gave a son to Scotland but to the whole world and whose own doctrines he preached to humanity that we might learn?  

Robert Burns Leith

Trinity House Museum Leith

The original mariner’s house built in 1555 on this site was an Almshouse for the retired and poor that wished to stay within the seafaring community.  The present building replacing the original Almshouse was built in 1816. Explore Trinity house and see the treasures the mariners returned home with from their travels. There are old marine maps, navigation equipment and ships models. There are also paintings and manuscripts that tell the stories of the sailors of the 14th century to this day.


Stone Plaques Maritime Street Leith


                                               1893       Javance (Uncover)                  Spe vires augentur. (Our powers are augmented by hope.)

Queen Victoria Statue Kirkgate Leith

This Statue was to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria and her visit to Leith in 1842. She died in 1901. It is also a war memorial to the memory of the Scots Guards from the area that died in the Boar War. It was unveiled by Lord Rosebery who was the Liberal Prime Minister 1894-5 and the ceremony was watched by a crowd of over 20,000 people. Leith became a part of Edinburgh in 1920. The meaning of Leith is broad river.


South Leith Parish Church Leith Area Edinburgh

The first mention of Leith in history was when David I gave the lands to the monks of Holyrood in the middle of the 12th century. The first church built was St Mary’s in 1483, over the centuries famous people have used the church such as Mary of Guise and Oliver Cromwell. The church has been used as a prison and the General Assembly was held here. Many parts of the church have been replaced since first built, with the ceiling being replace during the renovations of 1847, a Hammer beam ceiling was installed which is still present and will take your breath away.


Gurdwara Nanak Leith area Edinburgh 

The first Sikh families to arrive in Edinburgh were in 1958 from the Punjab. The Sikh place of worship is a Gurdwara and the first Gurdwara was a house in Leith in 1964. In 1976 the present Gurdwara was opened at 1 Sheriff Brae Edinburgh. Previous to the Gurdwara it was St Thomas’s Church which was built in 1843. The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak, he was born in 1469 A.D. It is believed that the Sikh religion was first preached in 1496 in the Punjab by Guru Nanak.

Leith area Edinburgh Gurdwara

Pilrig House Leith Area Edinburgh 

The original Pilrig House was owned by Sir Patrick Monypenny and he sold the land to Gilbert Kirkwood in 1623 who rebuilt the house in 1638. The Balfour family purchased the house in 1718   James Balfour’s great-grandson was Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson, Robert’s father married a member of the Balfour family and his great grandfather was born in Pilrig house in 1777. The Balfour family remained in Pilrig House till 1941. In 1971 a fire destroyed the house but luckily the history of the house and owners were seen to be important enough for the house to be rebuilt and restored to its original look in 1982 when the work started and is now complete.


 Leith area Edinburgh Pilrig House    Leith area Edinburgh Pilrig House

Hibernian Football Stadium Leith

Hibernian football team was founded by Irish football enthusiasts in 1875 and the name came from the Roman for Ireland (Hibernian). The East Meadows hosted the first Edinburgh Derby with Heart of Midlothian on Christmas day 1875. The present home of Hibernian opened in 1893. In 1955 Hibernian were the first British side to play in European competition. Hibernian won the Scottish Cup in 1902. The Celtic football Club was also formed as a west of Scotland Hibernian but the name was changed as to stop any confusion when playing against each other. 

Leith area Edinburgh Hibernian Football Stadium

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