Leith celebrates its 100th anniversary of being part of Edinburgh

It has been 100 years since the city of Leith and the surrounding areas were amalgamated into Edinburgh. To celebrate, the council and local institutions are planning a series of events for the people of Leith, and a fund of £100,000 has been allocated.

As well as Leith, the legislation incorporated Corstorphine, Cramond, Colinton and Liberton into the capital. The unifying of cities went ahead despite the people of Leith defiantly voting against the act, with 26,810 votes for no, to 4,340 for yes.

Edinburgh City Council is planning to host several activities to show locals what life in Edinburgh would’ve been like in 1920, with online and in-person exhibitions and special events taking place in 2020.

As well as the council, local visual arts organisation LeithLate, famous for their LeithLate festival and art all around the city, are putting on events for locals to enjoy.

LeithLate Producer Martha Findlay told EN4 News why they are celebrating the anniversary: “I think it’s important for us to mark the centenary because Leith has a very rich maritime heritage, and it’s a very strong close-knit community that is fiercely proud of its independent spirit and strong identity.”

LeithLate has chosen to focus some of their events around a mural inspired by the ‘close-knit community’ of Leith. Findlay said the 1986 mural, by artists Tim Chalk and Paul Grime, was “the result of many many hours of conversation with local Leithers about the way they saw their neighbourhood.”

1986 Leith Mural (Credit: EN4 News)

The events held by LeithLate will run from January 24 under the title ‘Leith100’ and will include:

– Sing-a-long Sunshine on Leith & live music (Ticketed, pay what you can), Fri 24 Jan, 19:30, Leith Theatre

– Mural Tour (Ticketed, pay what you can), Sun 2 Feb, 12.00, Halmyre Street

– Leithers Sunday Matinee (Ticketed, pay what you can), Sun 2 Feb, 14.00, Leith Theatre

– Light-up Leith History Mural (Free), Sat 8 Feb, Ferry Road

– Pop-up Exhibition: The Making of Leith History Mural (Free), 24 Jan-8 Feb, Leith Library

Even the local pubs are getting involved, with Bier Hoose bringing back a quirky tradition in honour of the centurial celebrations. The border between Leith and Edinburgh runs right through the pub and used to be divided by a curtain. Due to different licensing laws, the Leith half of the pub was allowed to stay open 1 hour later than the Edinburgh side, so punters would switch sides when the Edinburgh bar shut.

Bier House Bar- Leith and Edinburgh border (Credit: EN4 News)

Bier Hoose Landlord, Nathan Ross, explained to EN4 News why they decided to bring back the borderline, dividing Leith and Edinburgh. “We didn’t actually have the line previously; it had been taken out. Because of the amount of people that had said to us about the history of the bar, we thought it was just a brilliant feature to put back in, and it’s become a real talking point.”

So, if you’re in the Leith area, make sure to pop along to one of the many events or head down to the Bier Hoose for a local Leith (or Edinburgh) pint. While you’re here, why not have a look at the EN4 News video piece on the 100 years celebrations.

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