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Trinity House

Unfortunately and incongruously located within the banal 1960s Newkirkgate Shopping Centre at the foot of Leith Walk, is Trinity House, the headquarters of the Incorporation of Masters and Mariners of Leith. The current Neo-Classical edifice was built in 1816, although the Incorporation has had premises on this site since at least 1555, known then as Trinity Hospital, with vaulted cellars from that time still accessible beneath the current structure. The Incorporation was established in 1380 to provide relief to poor, sick or aged mariners. It was funded by a tax levied on cargo passing through the Port of Leith and grew into a role central to the running of the town.

The building includes fine interiors, decorated with numerous scenes of the sea and the seafarer, including notable ceilings and chimney-pieces. A fine stained glass window on the main stair acts as a memorial to those from the Port of Leith who lost their lives during the First World War (1914-8). The window was a gift from Mrs Colina Grant, the only female member in the history of Trinity House. Paintings include a portrait of Admiral Duncan of Camperdown (1731 - 1804) by Henry Raeburn (1756 - 1823). Trinity House also includes numerous memorabilia from the sea; models of ships, navigation instruments, together with the regalia of the Provost of Leith, before merger with Edinburgh. Also on display is a chest which held the records of the Incorporation at Stirling Castle after the members had been evicted from their premises when Oliver Cromwell captured Leith (1650-4).

With the number of Masters declining as the port declined through the 20th C., management of Trinity House, and its important collection of artefacts, has been taken on by Historic Environment Scotland (2001), with the intention of opening it to the public.


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