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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.] TRADE OF THE PORT. 289 Even in times of undoubted depression the docks at Leith have always retained an appearance of bustle and business, through the many large sailing ships laden with guano and West Indian sugar lying at the quays; but guano having been partly superseded by chemical manures, and West Indian by Continental sugar, the comparatively few vessels that now arrive are discharged with the greatest expedition. In the close of 1881 one came to port with the largest cargo of sugar ever delivered at Leith, the whole of which was for the Bonnington Refinery. As a source of revenue to the Dock Commission, steamers which can make ten voyages for one performed by a sailing vessel are, of course, very much preferred ; and, as showing the extent of the Continental sugar trade, it may be mentioned that quite recently 184,233 bags were imported in a single month. Most of this sugar is taken direct from the docks to the refiners at Greenock. A very important element in the trade of Leith is the importation of esparto grass, both by sailing vessels and steamers. This grass is closely pressed by steam power into huge square bales, and these are discharged with such celerity by the use of donkey-engines and other appliances, that it is a common thing to unload 150 tons in a single day. The facilities for discharging vessels at Leith with extreme rapidity are so admirable that few ports can match it-the meters, the weighers, and the stevedore firms who manage the matter, having every interest in getting the work performed with the utmost expedition. As a wine port Leith ranks second in the British Isles, and it possesses a very extensive timber trade; and though not immediately connected with ship ping, the wool trade is an important branch of industry there, the establishments of Messrs. Macgregor and Pringle, and of Messrs. Adams, Sons, and Co., being among the most extensive in Scotland. The largest fleet of Continental trading steamers sailing from Leith is that of Messrs. James Cume and Co. In 18Sr this firm had twenty-two steamers, with a capacity of 17,000 tons. Messrs. Gibson and Co. have many fine steamers, which are. constantly engaged, while the Baltic is open and free of ice, in making trading voyages to Riga, Cronstadt, and other Russian ports A trade with Iceland has of late years been rapidly developed, the importation consisting of ponies, sheep, wild fowl, and dried fish ; while in the home trade, the London and Edinburgh Ship ping Company do a very active and lucrative business, having usually two, and sometimes three large steamers plying per week between Leith and Loo- 133 don ; and in 1880, important additions were mad& to tht lines .of trading steamers by several large vessels owned by the Arrow Line being put on the berth, to ply between Leith and New York ; while the North of Scotland Steam Shipping Company transferred their business to the port from Granton. So steadily has the trade with New York developed itself, that from three to four steamers per month now arrive at Leith, bringing cargoes of grain, butter, oilcakes, linseed meal, tinned meats, grass seeds, etc. Over 200,ooo sacks of flour Came to Leith in one year from New York, and in one month alone 33,312 sacks were imported. Some of the Leith steamers sail direct to NewYork with mixed cargoes; others load with coal, and proceed there, vid the Mediterranean, after exchanging their cargo for fruit. Then Messrs. Blaik and Co., of Constitution Street, have large steamers of 3,650 tons burden each, built specially for this trade. The passage from New York, ?north about,? i.e., through the Pentland Firth, usually occupied sixteen days, but now it is being reduced to twelve Prior to the opening of the Edinburgh Dock a difficulty was found in berthing some of the great ocean-going steamers, and many that used to bring live stock from New York had to land them on the Thames or Tyne, the regulations of the Privy Council flot permitting these animals to be landed at Leith. ?( Permission was first asked by the Commission,? says a local print in 1881, ?to enable the animals to be taken to the Leith slaughter-house, which is on the south side of the new docks, and only a few yards from one of the entrances. The Privy Council having refused this request, the Dock Commission, with a desire to foster the trade, then made arrangements with the Leith Town Council, by which they could build a slaughter-house within the docks. Asite was proposed and plans prepared; but being objected to again by the Privy Council, the subject was allowed to lie over.? We have mentioned the transference of the North of Scotland steamers from Granton to Leith, and this change has proved monetarily advantageous, not only to the Cornmission, but to the majority of the shippers and passengers, and a special berth was assigned at the entrance of the Prince of M?ales?s Dock for the Aberdeen steamers, so that they sail even after high water. Besides the usual consignments of sheep, cattle, and ponies, vast quantities of herrings, in barrel, are brought to Leith, generally for re-shipment to the Continent of Europe.
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2YO OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [ Inchkeith. CHAPTER XXXIV. INCHKJZITH. The Defences of Leith-Inchkeith Forts-St. Serf-The Pest-stricken in 1497-E~perirnent of Jam- 1V.-The Old Fort-Johnson and Boswell-The New Channel-Colonel Moggridge?s Pkns--The Three New Forts-Magazines and B a n a c b T h e Lighthouse. THE long piers of Leith are now seaward of the Martello tower, and the battery at the fort is no longer on the seashore, but-owing to the reclamation of land, the erection of the goods and passenger stations of the Caledonian Railway, and the formation beyond these of a marine parade to Anchorfield- is ?now literal!y far inland and useless. This circumstance, coupled with the vast progress made of late years in the science of gunnery and projectiles, led to the construction of the Jnchkeith forts for the protection of Leith and of the river ; and to them we have already referred as the chief or only defences of the seaport. This island stands nearly midway between ?Leith and Kinghorn, four miles distant from the Martello tower, and is said to take its name from the valiant Scot named Robert, who slew the Danish general at the battle of Camustone or Bame in Angus, and obtained from Malcolm II., in 1010, the barony of Keith in Lothian, with the office of Marischal of Scotland. It has, however, claims to higher antiquity, and is supposed to be the caer pi& of the venerable Bede, and to have been fortified in his time. Among the anecdotes of St Serf, extracted by Pinkerton from the Chronicles of Winton, a Canon Regular of St. Andrews who lived in the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century, mention is made of some matters that are evidently fabulous-that the saint left Rome, and embarking for Britain, in the sixth century, with a hundred men, landed on this island, where he was visited by St. Adamnan, with whom he went to Fife. Inchkeith is half a mile in length and about the eighth or a mile in breadth. Throughout its surface is very irregular aiid rocky, but in many places it produces the richest herbage, well suited for the pasturage of cattle and horses ; yet there are no animals on it, except grey rabbits, and worwegian rats brought thither by the Leith shipping. Near the middle of the island, but rather towards its northern end, it rises gradually to the height of 180 feet above the level of the river, and thereon the well-known lighthouse is erected. The island possesses abundance of springs; the water is excellent, and is collected into a cistern near the harbour, from which the shipping in the Roads is supplied. In Maitland?s ? History of Edinburgh ? there is mentioned an order from the Privy Council, in the year 1497, addressed to the magistrates of Edinburgh, directing ?that all manner of persons within the freedom of this burgh who are infected with the contagious plague called the grand-gore, devoid, rid, and pass forth of this town, and compeer on the sands of Leith, at ten hours before noon ; and these shall have and find boats ready in the harbour, ordered them by the officers of this burgh, ready with victuals, to row them to the Inch (Inchkeith), and there to remain till God provide for their health.? There, no doubt, many of these unfortunate creatures found tneir last home, or in the wave6 around it. It was long in possession of the Keith family, and undoubtedly received its name from them. When their connection with it ceased there are no means of knowing now, but it afterwards belonged to the Crown, and was included with the grant of Kinghorn to Lord Glamis, wih whose family, according to Lamont?s ? Chronicles of Fife,? it remained till 1649, when it was bought, together with the Mill of Kinghorn and some acres of land, by the eccentric and sarcastic Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit, Director of the Chancery, for zo,ooo merks. It afterwards became the property of the Buccleuch family, and formed part of the barony of Royston, near Granton. Regarding this island Lindesay of Pitscottie records a curious experiment undertaken by the gallant James IV., for the purpose of discovering the primitive language of mankind. ? He caused tak ane dumb woman,? says that picturesque old chronicler, ?and pat hir in Inchkeith and gave hir two bairnes with hir, and gart furnish hir with all necessares thingis perteaning to theiar nourischment, desiring heirby to know what language they had when they cam to the aige of perfyte speach. Same say they spak guid Hebrew; but I know not by authoris rehearse.? Balfour records in his ?? Annales,? that in 1548 the English Navy, of twenty-five ships of war, amved in the Firth, and fortified Inchkeith, leaving five companies of soldiers to defend it. Hayward says this fleet was commanded by Admiral Seymour, and after burning the shipping in Burntis- ,
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