The History of Leith

May 21, 2012

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 hundifcd 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 the 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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