34 Facts About Leith


Leith is a port area in the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, founded at the mouth of the Water of Leith.

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Leith is located on the southern coast of the Firth of Forth and lies within the City of Edinburgh Council area; since 2007 it has formed one of 17 multi-member wards of the city.

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Leith has played a long and prominent role in Scottish history.

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In 1650, Leith was a prospective battleground when the Army of the Covenant, led by General David Leslie, threw up an earthen rampart between Calton Hill and Leith to defend the northern approach to Edinburgh against Oliver Cromwell's forces.

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Historically Leith was governed by the Town Council of Edinburgh, with separately organised baillies appointed by various bodies without contact with each other.

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The result became very unsatisfactory, and half of Leith was provided with no municipal government whatever or any local magistrates.

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On 1 November 1833, Leith became a separate Municipal Burgh, with its own provost, magistrates, and council, and was no longer run by bailies.

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Historically the Lord Provost of Edinburgh was virtue officii Admiral of the Firth of Forth, the Provost of Leith was Admiral of the port, and his four bailies were admirals-depute.

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Leith was the scene of the Dockers strike in 1913 recounted in the book Red Scotland.

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Leith was merged with Edinburgh on 1 November 1920 despite a plebiscite in which the people of Leith voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the merger.

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Docks 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.

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In recent years, Leith has undergone significant regeneration and is a busy port with visits from cruise liners and the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, and administrative offices for several departments of the Scottish Government.

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The shore area of Leith, once unattractive, is a centre for a range of new pubs and restaurants in charming surroundings.

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On 6 November 2003, Leith was the location for the MTV Europe Music Awards, with a temporary venue being built next to Ocean Terminal.

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Leith was Scotland's leader in several industries for many centuries.

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An extension to the new Edinburgh Tramway system, connecting Ocean Terminal and the Scottish Executive building area by the new Edinburgh Trams by the Port of Leith is being constructed with completion due in early 2023.

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Historically, due its Catholic connections, Leith was one of the last towns to have Catholic sympathies pre-Reformation.

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Leith was the first town in Scotland to electrify its tram system.

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Leith had one horse-drawn line pre-dating steam-trains, bringing coal from Dalkeith to a station at the north end of Constitution Street, to serve the glassworks there.

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Leith offered ferry services to many European ports, including Hamburg and Oslo.

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Today, Leith is served by various bus services provided by Lothian Buses.

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Leith has a long history of pioneering social advances, some of which were the first of their kind in Scotland:.

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Leith had electric street lighting from 1890 and electric trams from 1905.

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Leith was formerly a port linked to the trade of the Hanseatic League.

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Leith is home to The Queen's former floating Royal residence, the Royal Yacht Britannia, now a five-star visitor attraction and evening events venue permanently berthed at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.

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Leith was named as the fourth 'coolest neighbourhood in the world' by Time Out in 2021.

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The Leith Gala, now known as Leith Festival Gala Day is an annual event that has taken place since 1907; it was originally a charity event to raise sponsorship for local hospital beds before the National Health came into place.

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Leith FM started as a week-long RSL station during the late 1990s, linked to Leith Festival.

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BBC drama Guilt is set in Leith, with filming locations including the Eastern Cemetery.

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Leith is the home of Hibernian Football Club which is a member of the Scottish Premiership.

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Leith Links have been used a sports and recreation area over many centuries.

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Leith is significant in the historical development of the rules of golf, as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers played there before moving to Musselburgh Links and later Muirfield.

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From at least 1600 until 1816, Leith Races were held on Leith Sands, an area immediately north of the present Links and now built over.

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Leith Links have one of the longest established cricket pitches in Scotland, from 1820.

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