Welcome to the Dean Village – it is hard to imagine that this was once Edinburgh’s industrial slum, home to 8 grain mills, a brewery, distillery, chemical works and skin factory. You passed the damhead weir a short way upstream from here. The impressive vertical weir powered all the mills on the north side of the river.
We are standing at the location of the original ford crossing, used by all travellers wishing to head north from the city centre. The area was known as the Village of the Water of Leith and it became the centre for flour milling under the Baxters, who owned all the mills and granaries. They supplied Edinburgh with all its flour until steam milling came to Leith in the 19th Century. We are next to the Well Court development. This social housing complex was commissioned in 1884 by the philanthropist J R Finlay, proprietor of the The Scotsman newspaper. The impressive red brick building has a clock tower and a community hall, and was recently renovated by the Edinburgh World heritage trust.
You can use either bank on the river to continue your walk, this side is easier with bikes and buggies. The route across the footbridge takes you past the hawthorn cottages built in 1895. There is a wonderful mix of housing and architecture in the Dean Village so take your time to look around. The next audio point is a short distance downstream on the old stone bridge in the Village.
Video created by Stewart Emm, Edinburgh U3A Movie Makers Group