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Edinburgh Past and Present


LEITH. 109 character, the residences of the more opulent and influential classes of the community. North and South Leith are now connected by a broad, commodious thoroughfare, named Great Junction Street. It conducts from the foot of Leith Walk westward, crossing the river by a strongly built stone bridge, with railing balustrade of very graceful manufacture. Besides this there are other four bridges across the stream further down; three of them draw, and the last and most remote a swing-bridge, with a span of 222 feet, and erected at a cost of &30,000, which are raised or swung round, as occasion requires, for the ingress or egress of vessels. North Leith, into which these ways lead, and connect with the adjoining parish, has within the last half century undergone great improvements. The citadel of Cromwellian fame, and many of the humbler and lower-class dwellings that clustered around it, have been removed, and new streets, running both south and west, have been formed, with houses of a higher and much more respectable kind. Indeed, both parishes of late have been expanding in all directions, and have grown, particularly within the last ten or fifteen years, so rapidly that it is difficult to find accommodation for their annually increasing thousands, notwithstanding all the energy and success with which building operations are being carried on. What but a few years ago was only a waste, or green fields, or a nursery, is now covered with houses filled with an industrious and well-to-do tenancy, while in other parts again-as along and off the Ferry Road on the north, and up and in from Lochend and Easter Roads on the south-a great amount of excellent and highly finished house property has been constructed, all, or nearly so, occupied by the successful traders and more enterprising merchants of the town. Leith, being a place of considerable antiquity, founded somewhere about the year 1300, and holding such a conspicuous position in many of the more important events in our national history, should naturally be expected to contain not a few remains of much antiquarian interest. The town however, as a great commercial centre, has undergone so material and radical changes, that the most of the relics of an antique or old-world charact'er have been quite . obliterated. All that is left of the once famous citadel, for example, is, as wt? have already mentioned, but an old Saxon bridge and a little bit of the wall; in like manner the residence of Mary of Guise, a structure of some repute in its day, cannot now be identified even as to its site, although a recent erection, as business premises, in Water Lane claims the distinction ; while all traces of the dwellings of those who then formed her court, and were her
Volume 11 Page 162
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