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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Volume 6 Page 285
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286 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. embankment, 3,480 feet in length, The engineers fixed upon this site because these sands afforded a larger area near the level of half-tide than could be got on the west side of the harbour above low water, and were capable of being more cheaply reclaimed, and of giving the most ample accommodation for quays and stores. Mr. William Scott, of Kilmamock, contracted for the work of excavation, embanking, masonry, and other appliances, for the sum of A189,285. The cranes and sheds were separately estimated for; but the total costamounted to Azz4,500. This dock, which is perhaps one of the most complete of its kind-its quays being fitted up with all the most improved and newest appliances for loading and unloading-was opened on the 21st of August, 1869, and was named the Albert Dock; and the hydraulic cranes, made at the works of Sir William Armstrong, were introduced into Scotland for the first time. Provost Watt performed the opening ceremony, the vessel used on the occasion being the screw steamer FZorence, belonging to Messrs. Currie and Co. The gentlemen on board numbered two hundred, including the Dock Commissioners and certain representative men of Edinburgh and Leith. After steaming round Inchkeith, the tassel proceeded into the dock, breaking a ribbon on her way, while a band played ?? Rule Britannia,? and a salute was fired by a battery of the Royal Artillery. At a subsequent d2ieuner in the Assembly Rooms, Mr. D. R Macgregor, M.P. for the Leith Burghs, refemng to the advantages under which the Dock Commission laboured, said they had now ?no Act of Parliament to fight for; they had the privilege of succeeding to the great advantages enjoyed at one time by the city of Edinburgh, of having the whole of the foreshore, from Wardie Point to the Figgate Whins; they had been able to reclaim land to build on, and had more to the eastward to build a dozen docks of similar extent? This statement is borne out by the fact that the Albert Dock at Hull, which was opened about the same time, and has the same amount of water surface, though not so great an extent of land surface, cost upwards of a million of money, the promoters having been compelled to get an Act of Parliament, at great expense, to purchase a site. The Albert Dock is nearly double the size of any of the threeolder principal docks, the water area being ten and three-quarter acres ; and the newer dock (to be yet described) is longer still, with a jetty giving double the berthage accommodation. ?These docks are reached through a tidal harbour, formed by two noble piers, a mile each in length,? says the Scofsmaa in 1869 ; ?the first of these are on the west, and the Albert and new dock on the east side, east and west being connected by a massive hydraulic bridge, equal to the heaviest traffic, and spanning the harbour to the south of the dockgates.? This is called the Victoria Swing Bridge. We must not omit to remark more particularly the small, but valuable, addition that was made to the dry dock accommodation of Leith by the Prince of Wales?s Graving Dock, in thesame quarter, which was opened in 1858, and is 370 feet long, and sixty at the entrance in width. Several steamers of large size have been repaired in this dock, which was built by Mr. Alexander Wilson. Mr. Rendell, C.E., was the engineer, and it is considered a very splendid work of the kind. The Edinburgh Dock, as it is now named, is one of the most important of all the late measures taken for the improved accommodation of shipping at Leith. The first part of the undertaking was the formation of a formidable sea-wall, stretching from the east end of the Albert Dock to a point near Seafield Toll; and though several severe storms were encountered during the time it was in progress, when the long waves of the Firth came inland with a force and fury to which the German Sea gave an impetus, the wall was completed without accident. Only once did the sea excite any anxiety, and even on that occasion the cost of repairing the damage did not exceed A500 ; and that for contingencies, which in a work of such magnitude are always provided for, may be regarded as a v e v trifling sum. There has been reclaimed from the sea here a territory of one hundred and eight acres, thus giving to the Dock Commissioners ample space for sheds and depijts, and to two railway companies every facility for ensuring the most prompt transition of goods The chief embankment by which the reclamation was effected consists of a massive dry rubble wall, thirty feet broad at the base and ten feet six inches at the top. It is covered on its surface with fine ashlar two feet deep, and partly with Portland cement concrete two feet six inches thick The seaward slope is adapted to resist the pressure of the heaviest waves, and the wall is backed with puddled clay, averaging five feet six inches thick, and the space behind is filled in with rough packing or quarry shivers. A rubble scarcement (or species of berme), twelve feet wide and two feet deep, is built on the outside, to protect the foot of the embankment from the perpetual wash of the sea.
Volume 6 Page 286
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