The History of Leith

June 1, 2011

The Church and Drink

In 1836 the joint Sessions of North Leith, South Leith and St John’s tried to stop the opening of Public Houses on Sundays. However this failed unfortunately. The problem was that heavy drinking in Leith was causing serious problems leading to debt, disease and early death and fathers were spending all their money on drink leaving their families to go hungry (quite apart from the fact the day concerned was the Sabbath however that wasn’t the main reason). The Church can be portrayed at times as being kill joys but in this they were absolutely right and far ahead in their social thinking and the Council were wrong. What the council didn’t realise was the gross overcrowding in Leith was causing people to drink more then what was good for them. If you look at the 1852 ordinance survey map of Leith there is a Public House on every street corner drink was cheap and made people forget their dank overcrowded living conditions, poor working conditions and long working hours.

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