The History of Leith

February 21, 2008

Campaigning for a Leith Museum

The responses to the consultation carried out by the Petitions Committee clearly indicate that there is considerable support for the idea of a Leith Museum. I highlight the following comments made in the responses received:

1. The Scottish Museums Council supports the principle of a Leith Museum

2. City of Edinburgh Council states: The importance of Leith and its role in Scottish history deserves to be told in a dedicated museum….[and] Custom House..remains the most appropriate venue for a museum of Leith

3. Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian “has recognised the need to jointly create an international world-class Waterfront [which includes Leith]”
Our campaign for a Leith Museum continues to garner widespread community support, and we have now constituted our group as the Leith Museum Group. We are likely to apply for charitable status shortly.

As a group, we have given considerable thought to the best way forward for the initiative. We have decided to seek funding for a number of short term activities to promote the history of Leith, including an oral history project and also a mobile exhibition. These initiatives are valid in themselves, but would also keep the momentum behind our wish to establish a permanent museum for Leith, in which the material produced by such initiatives could also find a home.

Our ultimate objective, therefore, is to see the establishment of a permanent museum for Leith – a museum which would also be a museum for Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland given Leith’s special place in Scotland’s history. It is clear from the responses from both official bodies and from the community that the ideal venue for such a museum would be Leith Custom House.

This is currently used by the National Museums of Scotland for storage, but we understand they hope to dispose of that building in the not too distant future to fund their plans for new storage facilities elsewhere.

Our group has had some discussions with the National Museums regarding Leith Custom House. We would hope that the Petitions Committee would recommend to the relevant Minister that the National Museums be encouraged to enter into a positive dialogue with our group to allow us to develop and bring forward a proposal for a Leith Museum Trust to acquire Leith Custom House as a home for a future museum of Leith.

Mark Lazarowicz, Chair Leith Museum Group
MP for Edinburgh North & Leith
6 February 2008

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