History of Leith, Edinburgh

October 31, 2007

Some views of old Leith

Leith over the past thousand years has changed so much that it is difficult to keep track of what buildings we have lost and to have some idea what Leith looked like not only sixty years ago but a hundred or two hundred years ago.

To show you what I mean please see a selection of views of buildings and sights from the past many of course still exist but some are lost for ever.

Alexander Wood Map Leith 1777

Alexander Wood was a LeithMathematician and a teacher of Navagation and was employed by the Incorporations of Leithto produce the above map

South Leith 1820

James Skene was a famous Edinburgh painter of the early 19th century producing many pictures of buildings and views of Edinburgh now lost for ever. His pictures are a great source of information for the historian. He died in Greece.

Leith Bank 1806

The LeithBank was one of the first commercial banks in Leithand produced LeithCoins and pound notes. It later merged with the Edinburgh Savings Bank.

The Leith Tolbooth 18th century

The LeithTolbooth was errected on the orders of Mary, Queen of Scots and demolished in 1822 and was used as a prison and Court House.

Bernard St Leith early 19th century

This is a view of Bernard Street Leithnamed after Bernard Lyndsay Chamberlain to James VI of Scotland and First of England in the early part of the 19th century.

Hammerbeam Roof South Leith Parish Church

The Hammerbeam Roof of South LeithParish Church, designed by Thomas Hamilton in 1848 is one of the most famous roofs in Scotland and is composed of Solid and skilfully carved Oak. The shields bear the words of “Glory to God” etc.

The Charles Combe Pulpit at South LeithParish Church made from Italian Marble is the finest example of its Kind in Scotland

Dr Bells School, Great Junction St Leith, founded in 1839 by Dr Bell to teach what he called the Madras Method of Education. He is buried at Westminister Abbey London.

Lambs close, Leith

Lambs Close, Giles Street,LeithC 1850 Now demolished

The Building of the Session Room at South Leith 1902

The Elders vestry was built onto South LeithChurch in 1902 and the church had electricity introduced. This picture was stage managed for the camera.

This is a view of the Coal Hill Leithin the late 18th early 19th century

This is a drawing showing the corner of Bernard St and the Shore and gives an idea of the Port of Leithin the late 18th and early 19th centuries

Unknown Close in Leithc late 19th century

Old Sugarhouse Close Leith1953

The Kirkgate Leith1910

The Coal Hill Leith1880

The Leithboatmens Association Float forLeith Hospital Pagent 1921

The Bernard Street Drawbridge demolished in 1897

Taken from Tolbooth Wynd looking into Candlemakers Close 1950. The Porters stone seen over the entrance can now be seen at the “Vaults Leith ”.

LeithAcademy about 1900. The school was built in 1898 replacing an earlier building

Albany Street, Leithnow Portland Place about 1900

Lochend School,Leith

The Observatory on the Giants Brae LeithLinks about 1900

The Lodging House at Parliament Street c 1920

The Pawnbrokers at 67-69 Shore LeithThe Equitable Loan Compny c 1920

Kate McGourtys Pawnbroker

Barefoot Children in Leithc 1920

Rag and Bone man Leith1962/63’s

St James Episcopal School Leithtaken in the late 1920’s or the early 1930’s however it was demolished in the early 1960’s

Henry Robb Shipyard LeithJoiner Shop 1937

LeithDocks 1921

LeithRoperie 1930’s

Women at Work at the Roperie about 1900

The Kirkgate in the 18th century showing the Cant Ordinary which was demolished in 1883

Parliament Square in Leithas our unknown author would have seen it c 1820

Parliament Square from the Water of Leithc 1820

The Sheriff Brae Leith. Showing St Thomas’s Church c 1850

Queen Street as seen by our unknown author c 1820

Grants Square, Leithit was completely demolished prior to 1880. This is how it looked in 1851 and was part of the Parliament building which is reputed to have been the Council Chamber of the Regents of Scotland after Mary,Queen of Scot’s fled to England.

Advertising in Leithin the 1920’s, this is for dyeing

LeithHigh School about 1850

LeithCustom House 1850

The Citadel Port, 1850, North Leith

The Carpenter Stone from Coburg Street Leth. The Stone would have been over the Meeting house door of the Incorporation of Carpenters.

Coburg Street Churchyard 1850. Also called St Ninians Churchyard

South LeithParish Church 1836

The Seal of the Preceptory of St Anthony

The Mansion of the Logan Family in the Sheriff Brae Leith

Water’s Close Leith. The home of the Lamb family for centuries.

The Rotten Row or Water St 1880

The Old Black Swan and Hart’s Land. The haunt of LeithPirates

Newhaven Fishwife in Traditional dress about 1900

The Custom House Leith

The Rev Dr Fairbairn minister of Newhaven for fifty nine years

A close up of the Carters Stone. South LeithParish Church

The Great East Window. South LeithParish Church

Water Close, Leith1879

Yardheads, Leithabout 1880

William Inglis 1782. Captain of the “Honourable Company of Golfers” on LeithLinks. This was was the first Golf Club in the World.

Lady Anne MacIntosh buried at Coburg St Churchyard, Leith. She was the only woman in Scotland to raise a Clan in 1745 for Charles Edward Stuart “Bonnie Prince Charlie”

South LeithChurch in the 18th century from Constitution Street

LeithFiremen about 1880

Candlemakers Close also known as Sugarhouse Close c1950’s. Now demolished

Ancient Chapel in the Kirkgate

Balmerino House now demolished and was on the site of what is now St Marys Star of the Sea


The Porters Stone now at the “Vaults” Leithoriginally at the Old Sugar House Close, Tolbooth Wynd.


A LeithPound Note


Bonnington Toll about 1880


Cromwell House which stood in the Citadel was removed in the 19th century

Showing Leithin the 18th century. Looking from Abbey Hill
looking down what is now Easter Road


Pilrig House Leith


Cable’s Wynd showing “The Ark” now removed


16th century doorway from the Shore Leithnow removed


The Pier at Newhaven showing the slip for the ferry sloops and the pier for steamboats taken about 1920.


Old Burgess Closs


Sculptured stone at Trinity House


The Bernard St Corner of the Shore showing the King’s Wark


Restalrig Church (now St Margarets) showing St Triduana’s Chapel


South LeithChurch 1674


Interior of St Triduana’s Chapel


Abbot Ballantynes Bridge Leithbuilt 1492 demolished 1788


Ship Carpenters Meeting House in Sandport St now removed

St Ninians Churchyard Coburg St 1920


The Vaults LeithGiles Street


The deanery is supposed to have sood within the great gateway on the extreme left. Earlier stood Habb’s castle a supposed corruption of Abbot’s Castle

Thought originally to have been the home of Andrew Lamb and where Mary, Queen of Scot’s stayed on her arrival in Scotland in 1561. However it is a 17th century merchant house now modernised and protected

“Little London” now Bernard St Leith


Sculptured stone from Newhaven marking the Great Aramada of 1588

meeting house green and the Old soap work (now demolished) 1920)


Coat of Arms Mary of Guise wife of James V and mother of Mary Queen of Scots. This Coat of Arns is from the St Magdelene Chapel in the Cowgate. However South LeithChurch has her Coat of Arms in the West Porch which appeared over St Anthony Port during the Siege of Leithin 1560.

View of LeithWalk from Calton Hill 1793 from Robert Barkers panorama


Thomas Hamilton Architect of South LeithChurches restoration in 1848. From a portrait in the Royal Scottish Academy


Main Gateway into Cromwell’s Citadel. The house over the Gateway has now been removed. Picture c1920


LeithMills now demolished was the site of the Logan Mills mentioned in a number of LeithCharters c1920


Crawford’s Shop and Dovecot Gable. The Shore Leith1920 now removed


Monuments from South LeithChurch

The Rev John White Memorial and the “For the Craigend Beam” the Craigend was the Old name for Calton Hill


The Hammerbeam roof of South LeithChurch

St Anthony Place Leith. Now demolished


Chidren queuing for the penny matinee at the Picturedrome Easter Road,1923


Christie’s Clay Pipe Factory in St Anthony Lane, Leith1908

The King James VI Hospital Leith by Skene 1819. The Hospital which was in the Churchyard at South Leith Church was demolished in 1822


Greig and Douglas biscuit manufacturers, float at the 1929 Leith Hospital Pageant

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Storries Alley

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The Kirkgate

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The Carters of Leith

The pictures on this site are under copyright however permission to use them can be obtained from the webmaster

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