Leith – An Extension of Edinburgh
Over time Leith has undergone various transformations. This town has changed from municipal burgh to independent harbor town, to harbor and port of the ever-expanding city of Edinburgh. The character of the town has also altered since in its early history it was no doubt home to rich and wealthy merchants and well-to-do sailors as well as the more rough-necked crew members. By 1993 when Irvine Walsh (born and raised in Leith) of “Trainspotting” fame wrote and published his acclaimed but unconventional novel, Leith had become a somewhat unsavory place. And yet today the face of Leith has taken a turn for the better after a lot of effort. Instead of ramshackle buildings and drug addicts you will find up-market flats, restaurants, shops and offices.
Situated at the mouth of the Water of Leith, this little town is located on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Though Leith and Edinburgh were separate burghs in the past, the immense growth of both burghs has resulted in both now falling under one continuous urban area commonly known as the ‘City of Edinburgh’. The merger unofficially took place in 1920 and was inevitable. As the closest seaport to Edinburgh, Leith has long enjoyed a prominent role in the history of Scotland. During the 16th century it served as the location for the Scottish Court and in the 17th century it served as the headquarters for Oliver Cromwell’s forces. It is interesting to note that the earliest record of golf was been linked to Leith as King James II banned the sport in 1457 claiming that it interfered with the sport of archery. Nevertheless golf became a popular past time and by the 1700s Leith became home to the first official rules of golf as well as a number of early five-hole golf courses.
Today you will find that Leith is a picture-perfect destination. Graceful old buildings are well maintained and the shore, dock and water further beautify the area. Certain parts of the town are old and feature a number of interesting buildings. You might want to visit the impressively wide and old Bernard Street or the South Leith Parish Church. Andrew Lamb’s House is also a great place to stop by. However, not everything in Leith is old and you will just as easily discover modern and up-market harbor-side flats and other modern buildings.