The History of Leith

July 13, 2011

The Humane Society.Water’s Close c1880

The Humane Society of Leith, which was first instituted in 1788 for the recovery of persons apparently drowned or suffocated, had its rooms first in the Burgess Close and Bernard Street. Water’s Close, which adjoins, has several attractive features in a picturesque sense, arid repulsive ones
in its modern squalor. Tenements of stone and timber, and of great antiquity, are mingled together in singular disorder ; and one venerable tenement of hewn ashlar exhibits a broad projecting turnpike, with various corbellings, a half-circular turret, crowstepped gables, and massive chimneys, with ” every variety of convenient aberration from the perpendicular or horizontal which the taste or whim of its constructor could devise, and is one of the most singular edifices that the artist could select as a subject for his pencil.” Five low and square-headed doorways of great
breadth show that the whole of the lower storey had been constructed as a warehouse. This edifice, with its vaults, is advertised as for sale in The Edinburgh Advertiser of 1789, and is described as being in “Willie Water’s Close, Leith.” Its vaults are stated to be of stone, and ” the whole length and breadth of the subject completely catacombed.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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