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Leith ( ; ) is a district and former municipal burgh in the north of the city of Edinburghmarker at the mouth of the Water of Leithmarker and is the port of Edinburgh, Scotlandmarker. It lies on the south shore of the Firth of Forthmarker, in the unitary local authority of the City of Edinburghmarker.


Historically Leith was governed by the Town Council of Edinburgh, with separately organised baillies appointed by various bodies without contact with each other. The result became vary unsatisfactory, and half of Leith was provided with no municipal government whatever or any local magistrates. An 1827 Act of Parliament arranged for municipal government and administration of justice in the town, providing watching, paving, cleansing, and lighting, with Edinburgh Council responding to the views of Leith townspeople. In 1833 the Burgh Reform Act made Leith a Parliamentary Burgh, which jointly with Portobellomarker and Musselburghmarker was represented by one member of Parliament. On 1 November 1833, Leith became a separate Municipal Burgh, with its own provost, magistrates, and council, and was no longer run by bailies. Continued growth meant that Leith and Edinburgh formed a contiguous urban area. Leith was merged with Edinburgh in 1920 following a plebiscite in which the people of Leith voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the merger.

Leith has a long and prominent role in Scottish history. As the major port access to Edinburgh, Leith has served as the stage for many of Scottish history's significant events. Mary of Guise ruled Scotland from Leith in 1560 as Regent for her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. At that time the Scottish Court was situated in Leith. The Regency ended in disaster with French Catholic troops being ousted by Scottish forces aided by English Protestant troops. The remains of the battlefield are now a park called the Leith Links: two grassy mounds are the cannon emplacements of 1560. The following year Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Leith to begin her ill-fated six year reign.

About a century later, Leith was both a battleground and ultimately headquarters for Oliver Cromwell forces. An archway of the old Leith Citadel stands as the only remnant of extensive Cromwellian fortifications built in advance of the move north of Cromwell's roundhead army.

The Links was also where the earliest record of golf was found; it was the subject of a ban by King James II in 1457 as it interfered with the more useful sport of archery, confirmed in 1714 by the first competition for The Edinburgh Arrow by the Royal Company of Archers. The links are the site of an early five hole golf course built in the 18th century. Leith bolsters its claim to being "the home of golf" because the official rules of golf, initially formulated at Leith in 1744 by the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, were later adopted by St Andrewsmarker.

During the American war of independence John Paul Jones, a Scotsman who is credited as founder of the US Navy, led a flotilla of three former French vessels against Leith. The heavily armed warships were, reputedly, repulsed by appalling weather. Leith built fortifications after this event to prevent any repeat threat to the port and to Edinburgh. Part of Leith is still known as "The Fort" to this day, although all of the 18th century buildings, save a gatehouse, are long since gone.

There is a long history of worship in Leith which can be dated back to at least the 12th century. After the Scottish Reformation the principal parish kirk for Leith was South Leith Parish Churchmarker, originally constructed in 1483. In June 1811 a statistical population census gave the population of South Leith as 15,938; North Leith 4875. With a procession and ceremony, the foundation stone of the new church for the parish of North Leith was laid on 11 April 1814.

Leith was the port of entry for the visit of King George IV to Scotland, and The Old Ship Hotel and King's Landing was then given its new name to mark the King's arrival by ship's boat at Leith Shore for this event which popularised symbols of Scottish national identity.

Leith Docks became known as the port for Edinburgh and modest shipbuilding and repair facilities grew. On 20 May 1806, there was a procession of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Magistrates (Baillies), and Council, along with a numerous company of ladies and gentleman, for the opening of the first new Wet Dock, the first of its kind in North Britain. The Fifemarker packet called The Buccleuch was the first to enter the dock, with the civic dignitaries on board, amid discharges of artillery from the Fort and His Majesty's warships in the Roads. The foundation stone for the second (middle) wet dock was laid on 14 March 1811, which was completed and opened with due ceremony in 1817 by Lord Provost Arbuthnot. The same year the Trinity House in Kirkgate was erected in Grecian architectural style at an expense of £2500.

The dock at Leith underwent severe decline in the post-Second World War period, with the area gaining a reputation for roughness and prostitution, with an official 'tolerance zone' until 2001. In recent years Leith has undergone significant regeneration and is now a busy port with visits from cruise liners and the home of the Royal Yacht Britanniamarker, Ocean Terminalmarker, and administrative offices for several departments of the Scottish Government. The council and government's 'Leith Project' provided a further economic boost. The shore area of Leith, once seedy, is now a centre for a range of new pubs and restaurants in charming surroundings.


After decades of industrial decline, slum clearance and resultant depopulation in the post-war era, Leith gradually began to enjoy an upturn in fortunes in the late 1980s. Several old industrial sites were developed with modest, affordable housing, while small industrial business units were constructed at Swanfield, Bonnington, Seafield and off Lindsay Road. The Shore developed a clutch of upmarket restaurants, including the first of the groundbreaking chain of Malmaison hotels in a conversion of the former Seamans Mission, while the once industrially-polluted and desolate banks of the Water of Leithmarker were cleaned up and a public walkway opened.

Leith's gradual revival was greatly accelerated, however, by the decision of the Scottish Office (now the Scottish Government) to purchase the disused Old East and Old West Docks, which were filled-in as a low-cost site for one of its civil service offices in the mid 1990s. The influx of well-paid civil service jobs boosted local commerce and fostered Leith's growing reputation as a white-collar, small business location. Further large-scale service and tourist development followed, including the Ocean Terminalmarker complex and the permanently moored Royal Yacht Britanniamarker. From 2011 Ocean Terminal and the Scottish Executive building area will be connected to the new Edinburgh tram network.

Western Harbour
In 2004 the owner of the Docks, Forth Ports, announced plans to eventually close the port and carry out a major redevelopment of the area. The planned development, which was given supplementary planning guidance by the City of Edinburgh Councilmarker in 2004, will be the size of a small town with up to 17,000 new homes. It will include developments on the infilled Western Harbourmarker as well as residential, leisure, retail and commercial development across the rest of the old docks. The urban design of the project will keep it in context with the older developments in Leith and provide a wealth of public and private open space, including two large parks and a number of pedestrian linkages across the docks. The whole project is expected to be completed by about 2020. The plans have not been entirely well received, with concerns being expressed that the scheme does not give enough importance to affordable housing, and that it will only exacerbate the income disparity that already exists in Leith.


Streets in Leith include Constitution Street, Great Junction Streetmarker, Leith Walkmarker and Easter Road, Edinburghmarker.

One of the areas is Timber Bushmarker.

Culture and community

Hibernian Football Club have their stadium at Easter Roadmarker in Leith.

The Utopia pub on Easter Road started a protest campaign against the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling after the 2008 Budget.

Famous people from Leith

See also


External links

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