Post by Lynn and Paul Henni
Towards, Around and About Leith in images.
Our exhibition in Leith has made us think about the area and its relationship to Edinburgh; they may be joined now but once Leith was separated from the city and was the major port serving Edinburgh and beyond, whether it was shipping goods in and out or people. It was briefly the centre of power while Marie of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, ruled the country from Leith before being forced to retreat to Edinburgh Castle by Scottish Protestant nobles supported by English troops who docked in Leith. When Mary returned from France to the land of her birth, she arrived at Leith port and was distinctly underwhelmed at the lack of a reception.
Leith has a strong industrial and trade heritage with glass, soap, whisky, lead, whaling and, of course, ship building all featuring. It was also well known for its bonded warehouses for whisky, wine and port – many of these have now been converted into flats or offices.
Finally, it has a personal link as Paul’s parents married in the old Norwegian Seaman’s church which is now the Leith School of Art.
The first photos are from Leith Street, at the very top of Leith Walk. Although not actually in Leith itself, this was and remains the main route to Leith from central Edinburgh. A huge development is underway to remove the hideous brutalist St James’ Centre and New St Andrew’s House so currently, it is very congested.
This image was shot from the ‘twisty walkway’ that goes over the street and into the soon to vanish St James Shopping centre, taken before sunrise (yes, Paul was so excited by the snow that he got up before dawn…at the weekend…!) back in January this year with falling snow.
This is the ‘twisty walkway’ which is being removed as part of the redevelopment. Hopefully, it can be used elsewhere.
Heading down Leith Walk which is divided by the boundary between Edinburgh and Leith (the famous Boundary Bar marks the line) until recently, there was a fantastic mural by Guido van Helten to celebrate the Edinburgh Festival of the 1960s.
This disappeared in the last year or so with the opening of the new restaurant, Origano below.
Continuing down to the bottom, there is the Foot Of the Walk pub which serves breakfast. Several Leith pubs are open very early in the morning traditionally for dock workers coming off a night shift and sometimes city centre clubbers end up down in Leith to keep the party going!
Leith is not so short of pubs, they need pointing out.
Beyond the end of Leith Walk, you move into Constitution Street which is near the so called banana flats which featured in the film, Trainspotting , and some fine old buildings harking back to when well-to-do ship owners and traders set up home and work nearby.
Further on in the port area, the Water of Leith meets the sea providing great opportunities for reflective shots.
There is a wonderful old swing bridge which used to take traffic before redevelopment and building of Victoria Quay, the Scottish Government office. Now, it makes a great spot for looking back across the shore.
Leith is currently hosting the art installation, the Dazzle Ship, which was co-commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival and 14-18 NOW. It arrived as a plain, blue ship and artist, Ciara Phillips, designed and worked with others to create the artwork, ’ Every Woman’.
Leith is also an active port, with ships docking and loading or unloading on a daily basis. Here is the AKOFS Aker Wayfarer, an offshore construction vessel.
It also has a fine old customs house which featured in the recent BBC series, Secret Agent; also home to many pigeons!
‘Urban Noir’ Exhibition is on display at The Image Collective, an excellent and eclectic gallery space on the top floor, opposite the Britannia, where our images are all available to buy; we have framed, mounted and rolled prints. We also have two hand printed etchings available framed or mounted. If there are any other images you are interesting in buying prints of that are not in the exhibition let us know.