The History of Leith

May 21, 2012

The harbour of Leith in 1883

The harbour of Leith is formed by the little
estuary of the river into the Firth of Forth, and is
entirely tidal, and was of old, with the exception
of being traversed by the shallow and unimportant
stream which takes its rise at the western base of
the Pentlands, quite dry at low water, and even
yet its depth is trifling. As the Water of Leith
has to make its way seaward, across the very broad
and flat shore called the Sands of Leith, alternately
flooded by the tide and left nearly dry, the
channel, in its natural state, was subject to much
fluctuation, according to the setting in of the tides.
A bar, too—such as is thrown up at the entrance
of almost every river mouth—lies across
its entrance, formed at that point where the antagonistic
currents of the river and tide bring
each other into stagnation or equipoise, and then
deposit whatever silt they contain. Thus, says a
writer, ” the river constantly, and to an important
amount, varies both the depth of the harbour and
the height of the position of the bar, according
to the fluctuations which occur in the volume of its
water or the rapidity of its discharge; for in a
season of drought it leaves everything open to the
invasion of sediments from the tide, at other times
it scours away lodgments made on its bed, drives
seaward and diminishes in bulk the bar, and deepens
the channel towards the side streams of the Firth.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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