The History of Leith

January 20, 2012

The great fire of 1824

IN describing the closes and wynds which diverge from the great central street of the old city on the south we must resume at the point where the great fire of 1824 ceased, a conflagration witnessed by Sir Walter Scott, who says of it:—
” I can conceive no sight more grand or terrible
than to see those lofty buildings on fire from top to
bottom, vomiting out flames like a volcano from
every aperture, and finally crashing down-one after
another into an abyss of fire, which resembled
nothing but hell; for there were vaults of wine and
spirits, which sent up huge jets of flames wherever
they were called into activity by the fall of these
massive fragments!:”
” The Salamander Land,” an enormous black tenement, so named from its having survived or escaped the fires that raged eastward and westward of it, and named also from that curious propensity,
which is so peculiarly Scottish, for inventive and appropriate sobriquets, was removed to make way for the Police Chambers and the Courant office, in the latter of which James Hannay, the author of ” Satire and Satirists ” and several other works, and Joseph Robertson, the “wellknown Scottish antiquary, conducted the editorial duties of that paper, the first editor of which was Daniel Defoe. ” We have been told,” says Wilson, writing of the-old tenement in question, ” that this land was said to have been the residence of Daniel Defoe while in Edinburgh ; the tradition, however, is entirely unsupported by other testimony.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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