The History of Leith

March 10, 2005


I received the article below from a Mr Thomson which I am happy to share with everybody. If history is about anything it is not only about great events but the small things that make up all our lives.

Just prior to the WW2 Iwas a pupil at Trinity Academy, my father John Thomson along with Geordie Grosset and Willie Proudfoot were respnsible for LNER Rail freight movements within Albert Dock and Commercial Docks.I was easy for me as atreat every Friday to take the train from Newhaven to Leith after School for a walk through the Docks (weather permitting)
to join my father for his return home via the Tram from Portland Place.

At this time I was interested in the general happenings around the Docks watching ship construction at Henry Robb’s and Menzies, also the “North Boat” berth when my father would take me to see live stock being offloaded into
waiting rail cattle trucks I was often invited to the bridge on the St Clair as Capt Sinclair stayed only doors away from my home in Trinity and his son Donald was in my Class at Trinity.
Another highlight was the berting of the Dutch “fruit boat” the Westland ,again my father would be awaiting a transhipmemt Manifest for Rail, While i was entertaned to a trip round the ship with the bosun and the ship’s Mascot
“Barney” a cocker spaniel whih knew it was’nt allowed down the gangplank at Leith.I believe this ship fell victim to a Luftwaffe Raid on its home port of Amsterdam at the beginning of WW2.Such great memories,going to the top of the Grain elevator and seeing the Docks from the highest point. After the oubreak of War I was able to witness the arrival of HMS Cossack with the Altmark prisoners and also see the terrible damage inflicted on merchant
ships brought in for repairs at Robbs after torpedo attacks in the North Sea.
At the end of the War I had the bonus of visiting a U boat and also Hitler’s yacht “Grille” which were put on display visits at Leith.

Ed Thomson
Glamis Angus.
(reproduced with thanks)

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