The History of Leith

April 17, 2012

The Bourse

The old chapel in Queen Street adjoined a
building which, in the days when Maitland wrote,
had its lower storey in the form of an open piazza,
which modern alterations have completely concealed
or obliterated. This was the exchange, or
meeting-place of the Leith merchants and traders
for the transaction of business, and was known as
the Bourse till a very recent period, being adopted
at a time when the old alliance with France was
an institution in the land, and the intimate relations
between that country and Scotland introduced
many phrases, customs, and words which still
linger in the latter.
The name of the Bourse still remains in Leith
under the corrupted title of the Timber Bush,
occasionally called the Howf, at some distance
north of Queen Street. It occupied more than
the piazzas referred to—a large piece of ground
originally enclosed by a wooden fence, and devoted
to the sale of timber, but having been probably
reclaimed from the sea, it was subject to inundations
during spring tides. Thus Calderwood records
“that on the i6th of September, 1616, “there arose
such a swelling in the sea at Leith, that the like
was not seen for a hundred years, for the water came
in with violence in a place called the Timber Holf
where the timber lay, and carried away some of the
timber, and manie lasts of herrings lying there,
to the sea; brak into sundrie low houses and
cellars, and filled them with water.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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