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Dean Village

(Water of Leith Village)
City of Edinburgh

A picturesque settlement lying on the Water of Leith in the valley deep below Dean Bridge, Dean Village was once the largest of the mill villages around Edinburgh. Originally known as the Water of Leith Village, it took on its current name after the original Dean Village, which lay close to the gates of Dean Cemetery, disappeared in the late 19th century. Today, although surrounded by the city, its geographical location imbues it with a degree of peaceful isolation. Water-powered flour and weaving mills had been located here since at least the 12th Century, when King David I awarded the profits of the mills here to Holyrood Abbey. The only remaining mill is the West Mill (1805), which was restored to provide housing in 1973. The construction of the Dean Bridge in 1830 took through traffic out of the village, although it continued to flourish until the mid-19th Century when the much larger flour mills which had been built in Leith brought the decline of industrial activity in Dean. The weaving mills also closed by c.1880.

What remains is an interesting melange of 17th, 18th and early 19th century industrial buildings, with Victorian and modern structures largely built for residential use. The oldest is on Bell's Brae, a granary built for the Baxters' (Bakers') Incorporation in 1675, which was adapted c.1900 by Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929) for the Cathedral Mission and converted to flats in 1976. Examples of Victorian housing include the half-timbered Hawthorn Buildings (1895) and Well Court (1884), built as an experiment in model housing by John Ritchie Findlay (1824-98) owner of the Scotsman newspaper.


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