Friday
May112012

20 - Victoria Bridge

The Victoria Bridge, the last of Leith's opening bridges, was restored in 2000 and marks the end of the Water of Leith walkway. It also marks the end of the rivers 24 mile journey from the Pentland Hill, through our capital. We are at the beginning of Leith docks, originally the area simply contained piers but in the mid 19th century a complex of docks were created including the Victoria Dock in 1851, The Albert in 1869, followed by Edinburgh Dock in 1881 and finally the Imperial Dock in 1903.

The docks were famous for shipbuilding since 1700s and in the early 19th century they worked at full stretch to support the Napoleonic War. However, as steel fabrication overtook timber the harbour was not deep enough, and so the industry declined with the last shipbuilding yard closing in 1980.

There are many interesting buildings on this final leg to the end of the river including the circular Signal Tower. One of the oldest buildings in the area, dating from 1685, was originally a wind powered mill for rape seed. In the Napoleonic wars it was converted to a signal tower. Development is springing up all over the area and there are grand plans for the re-development of the docks.

So why not explore the many bars, restaurants and shops which have made Leith a popular destination. If you want to spot the final Gormley Statue, take this road towards Ocean Terminal and follow round the estuary side of the shopping centre and you will see him standing out on one of the old dock piers.

We hope you have enjoyed your journey down the Water of Leith and have found this commentary interesting and useful. To find out more about the river or to help with its protection please contact the Water of Leith Conservation Trust at www.waterofleith.org.uk