Edinburgh’s Leith Docks 1970-80 (The Transition Years) by Malcolm Fife is essentially a “Who’s Who” of the various vessels that used Leith Docks during the 1970s.
This book gives us an introductory overview to the history of Leith docks, and it is a long and illustrious history dating back over 500 years. Mary, Queen of Scots landed at Leith Docks from France to claim her Scottish throne in 1561, a warship from the American War of Independence even sailed into Leith and fired three salvos before departing. The relationship between the town of Leith and its neighbouring Edinburgh has at times been a very uneasy one (the two did not formally merge together until 1920). Edinburgh is one of the few major cities in the world not built around a river or a natural harbour, and greatly depended upon the supply of goods brought into neighbouring Leith and its docks. This book also touches lightly on some of the many specialist storage buildings that were developed around the docks to store and handle the commodities brought ashore.
Leith Docks has always primarily been a working docks, and throughout history the importation of wines, foods, grains and pretty much every other commodity possible made the merchants of Leith very wealthy. In the 1970s, fully now part of Edinburgh, this trade in commodities was supplied by a wide variety of vessels, plus visits from the occasional cruise ship and at times Royal Navy vessels.
Much of this book is dedicated to those vessels with many colour illustrations and basic information on them. This book is neatly separated into the different classes of vessels that used Leith Docks in the 1970s, and if you have an interest in maritime vessels of this type then this is a book for you. The subject matter here is very specific and obviously how interesting you will find this book greatly depends on your own personal tastes…for those not that interested in the many photographs of the vessels and their data, there are still many interesting facts in the general text.
Edinburgh’s Leith Docks 1970-80 is published by Amberley Publishing £14.99
Review by Lisa Sibbald