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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.1 THE CUSTOM-HOUSE 259 EASTWARD of Leith lie those open downs called the Links, once of much greater extent than we find them, and doubtless at one time connected ground to the westward of the pier, when it was blowing fresh, with a heavy sea, and before any assistance could be given she was driven upon the beach, near the citadel, having beaten off her rudder and otherwise considerably damaged herself [sic]. They are employed in taking out the cargo, and if the weather continues moderate, it is expected she will be got off.? The waves of the sea are now distant nearly two thousand feet north from the spot where the wreck took place. Three of the bastions, and two of the gates of the citadel, were standing when the old ?Statistical Account ? was published, in 1793. Before quitting this quarter of North Leith we may quote the following rather melancholy account given of the latter in 1779, in a work entitled ?The Modem British Traveller,? folio, and now probably out of print. About a mile from the city is Leith, which may be called the warehouse of Edinburgh. It is divided into two parts by a small rivulet, over which is a neat bridge of three arches. That part called South Leith is both large and populous ; it has an exceeding handsome church, a jail, a custom-house [the old one in the Tolbooth Wynd], but the streets are irregular, nor do any of the buildings merit particular attention. It was formerly fortified, but the works were destroyed by the English in 1559 [?I, and not any remains are now to be seen. That part called North Leith is a very poor place, without any publick building, except an old Gothic church ; there is a small dock, but it is only capable of admitting ships of a hundred and fifty tons. The harbour is generally crowded with vessels from different parts; and from here to Kinghorn, in Fifeshire, the passage-boat crosses every tide, except on Sundays. . . . Great numbers of the citizens of Edin- ?burgh resort to Leith on parties of pleasure, and to regale themselves with the sea air and oysters, which are caught here in great abundance. . . . with the wide, open, and sandy waste that extended beyond the Figgate Burn to Magdalene Bridge, The town is under the jurisdiction of a bailiff CT], but it may be called a part of, and is subject to the jurisdiction of, Edinburgh, in virtue of a charter granted by King Robert the Eruce.? The Manners? Church, a rather handsome building, with two smail spires facing the east, is built upon a portion of the site of the citadel, and schools are attached to it. The church was designed by John Henderson of Edinburgh, and was erected in 1840. In this quarter Sand Port Street, which led to the then beach, with a few old houses neax the citadel, and the old church of St. Ninian, comprised the. whole of North Leith at the time of the Union. There the oldest graving-dock was constructed in 1720, and it yet remains, behind a house not far from the bridge, dated-according to Parker Lawson-162 2. The present custom-house of Leith was built in 1812, on the site where H.M. ship Fu~y was built in I 780 ; and an old native of Leith, who saw her launched, had the circumstance impressed upon his memory, as he related to Robertson (whose ?Antiquities ? were published in 185 I), ?by a carpenter having been killed by the falling of the shores.? The edifice cost A12,617, is handsome, and in the Grecian style, adorned in front with pillars and pediment It stands at the North Leith end of the lower drawbridge. The officials here consist of a collector, twb chief clerks, three first and seven second-class clerks, with one extra ; eight writers, two surveyors, eighteen examining officers, and a principal coast officer for Fisherrow. The long room is handsome, and very different from its predecessor in the Tolbooth Wynd, which was simply divided by long poles, through which entries were passed. In May, 1882, the building at Dock Place (in this quarter) known as the Sailors? Home, was converted into the Mercantile Marine Department and Government Navigation School. C H A P T E R XXIX. LEITH -THE LINKS.
Volume 6 Page 259
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