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Edinburgh Past and Present


LEITH. "5 very massiveness, adorned in front with a tetrastyle Ionic portico, surmounted by a tower of three stages with columns at the angles,-the first Doric, the second Ionic, and the third Corinthian-with a fluted octangular spire of a light graceful formation, lend it an air of great and solemn impressiveness. Its origin is somewhat interesting. At first merely a chapel, erected by Robert Bellenden, Abbot of Holyrood, in the fifteenth century, endowed with certain revenues and dedicated to St. Ninian, it was erected in the year 1606 into a parish, the inhabitants at the time purchasing the chaplain's house, the tithes, and other pertinents from the then Commendator of Holyrood. The old church still stands in a by-street near the upper drawbridge, but is now converted into the secular use of corn-lofts or grain-stores ; the only thing remaining characteristic of the original fabric being the ancient tower with its slated spire and gilded vane. Such was the humble or unassuming foundation upon which this now stately and imposing edifice has been reared. Of the docks as public buildings not much need be said here. The first, it would seem, was formed in 1718, when a stone pier was built Since then Leith has largely increased her shipping accommodation, the number of her docks, both wet and dry, keeping pace with her requirements. These docks, and especially the latest formed of them, are of the roomiest and most convenient description, having all the most modern and improved appliances for loading and -unloading. There is another, to the east of the Albert Dock, now in the course of erection, which in extent and other marine advantages will greatly outstrip all the others, and which is expected to be opened in a year or two. Leith as a commercial centre is rapidly extending, and the tonnage of her shipping annually increasing. The following statistics, as illustrative of the fact, may be interesting : 4 n the year 1650, three vessels of 271 tons belonged to the port; in 1692, vessels to the extent of 1702 tons; in 1740, 2628 tons; in 1787, 14,150 tons; in 1808, 20,022 tons; in 1849, 22,499 tons; in 1864, 56,215 tons; and in the present year 1876, it may be found that the tonnage will not be much under 80,ooo.' Nor is Leith quite destitute of all literary repute, although in this respect she may not compare favourably with many other towns of much less importance. John Home, the author of ' Douglas, a Tragedy,' was a native of the place. His father was the town-clerk, and lived in a house at the east corner of Quality Street, which was taken down some forty years ago to make room I would here thankfully acknowledge my indebtedness to D. W. Henderson, Esq., corn- These facts tell their own tale. broker, Leith, for these statistics and other informatory helps.
Volume 11 Page 168
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Volume 11 Page 169
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