The History of Leith

October 17, 2011

The first pier of Leith

The first pier constructed at Leith was of wood. But was destroyed in 1544, at the time of the invasion in that year, and we have no means of indicating its precise site. During the earlier years
of the seventeenth century another wooden pier was erected, and for two hundred and forty years its massive pillars and beams, embedded in a compact mass of whinstone and clay, withstood the rough contacts of shipping and the long upcoming rollers from the stormy Firth, and the last traces of it only disappeared about the year 1850. Between the years 1720 and 1730, a stone pier,in continuation of this ancient wooden one, which only to a slight extent assisted the somewhat meagre natural facilities of tlr£ harbour, was carried seaward for a hundred yards, constructed partly of
massive squared stones from a curious old coal-pit at Culross; and for a time this, to some degree, remedied the difficulty and hazard of the inward navigation, but still left the harbour mouth encumbered with its unlucky bar of unsafe and shifting sand. The old pier figures in more than one Scottish song, and perhaps the oldest is that fragment preserved by Cromek, in his ” Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song ” :—
” Were ye at the Pier o’ Leith ?
Or cam ye in by Bennochie ?
Crossed ye at the boat o’ Craig ?—
Saw ye the lad wha courted me ?
Short hose and belted plaidie,
Garters tied below his knee :
Oh, he was a bonnie lad,
The blythe lad wha courted me.”

source-Old and New edinburgh

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