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Granton

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Granton, a seaport and post-town in the parishes of Cramond and St Cuthbert's, Edinburghshire, 51/8 miles S by E of Burntisland, 2¼ W by N of Leith, and 2¾ NW by N of Edinburgh Post Office. Historically it is notable as the point where English troops landed in 1544 under the Earl of Hertford before they ravaged Leith. The real importance of the place dates from 1835, when the Duke of Buccleuch began the extensive harbour works. Hitherto the want of a deep-sea harbour in the Firth of Forth had been much felt, and the Duke, who is superior of the place, applied part of his large revenues to a purpose which has proved greatly to the public benefit as well as a most remunerative investment of capital. A beginning was made in Nov. 1835, and the harbour was partly opened on 28 June 1838, memorable as the coronation day of Queen Victoria. On account of this coincidence one of the jetties is called Victoria Jetty; and on 1 Sept. 1842 the Queen and Prince Albert landed here, and were met by the Duke of Buccleuch, Sir Robert Peel, and others. The pier was completed in 1845 at a cost of £80,000; and the two magnificent E and W breakwaters, 3170 and 3100 feet long, were constructed at a later period, at a cost, with accessory works, of £150,000. The pier itself is 1700 feet long, and from 80 to 160 broad. There are four pairs of jetties, each 90 feet long, and two slips, 325 feet in length, for the landing of goods at all stages of the tide. A strong wall runs down the middle of the pier; and it is well furnished with railway lines, goods' sheds, cranes, and other necessary appliances. Since 1848 the E side of the pier has been the starting point of the North British railway steamers for Burntisland, and a station is provided there for the use of passengers. The most interesting feature of the ferry is the arrangement by which loaded trucks are shipped upon large steamers and conveyed across, thus saving the loading, unloading, and reloading of the goods. The ingenious but simple system by which this is managed at all states of tide by means of movable stages and powerful stationary engines was the invention of the late Sir Thomas Bouch, C.E. In addition to being thus an important part of the North British trunk line to the north, Granton is connected with the Caledonian railway by a branch used only for goods traffic. At the W end of the harbour is an extensive patent slip for vessels of 1400 tons; but actual shipbuilding is a thing of the past, no vessels having been launched here since 1875. From the central pier eastward to Trinity a substantial sea-wall was erected in connection with the harbour; and along the top of this the railway from Edinburgh approaches the pier. The depth of water at the entrance to the harbour is nearly 30 feet at spring tides, and it is accessible at most times to vessels of considerable burden, affording one of the safest and easiest anchorages on the E coast of Scotland. The port is the headquarters of several lines of steamers trading to Aberdeen and other northern Scottish ports, London, Christiania, Gothenburg, etc., as well as of the fishery protection and preventive vessels of the district. At first Granton ranked as a sub-port to Leith, but in 1860 the customs authorities constituted it a head port. The following table gives the tonnage of vessels that entered and cleared from and to foreign countries and coastwise with cargoes and in ballast:—

Entered Cleared
  British. Foreign. Total. British. Foreign. Total.
1870,. 152,235 96,701 248,936 148,546 80,766 229,312
1875,. 194,832 86,361 281,193 195,341 87,265 282,606
1881,. 146,950 89,221 236,171 146,670 88,819 235,489

Of the total, 755 vessels of 236,171 tons, that entered in 1881, 345 of 173, 004 tons were steamers, 454 of 132,960 tons were in ballast, and 479 of 142,078 tons were coasters; whilst the total, 754 of 235,489 tons, of those that cleared, included 344 steamers of 172, 537 tons, 150 ships in ballast of19,736 tons, and 411 coasters of 117,715 tons. The total tonnage of vessels registered as belonging to the port was 1348 (648 steam) in 1869, 1792 (271 steam) in 1873, and 2561 on 31 Dec. 1881, viz., 3 sailing ships of 228 and 18 steamers of 2333 tons. The total value of foreign and colonial imports was £323,657 in 1876, £156,143 in 1879, and £204,530 in 1881; of customs revenue £63, 615 in 1875, £112,744 in 1878, and £111, 704 in 1881; of exports £225,084 in 1875, £122,788 in 1879, and £166,328 in 1881. The trade is in coal, grain, timber, iron, tobacco, etc.; and Granton has one of the finest tobacco bonding warehouses in the country, with an area of 14,000 feet, besides a saw-mill, a foundry, and the chemical works of Caroline Park.

In comparison with the importance of the port the town of Granton is most insignificant. Facing the shore end of the pier is a square or rather place, one side of which is entirely occupied by a commodious hotel, another consists of substantial stone dwelling-houses, while the third remains unbuilt. The rest of the town is almost all composed of temporary brick houses, as an extension of the railway and harbour works is anticipated. This expectation it is that gives rise to restrictions as to building which have hitherto limited the increase of the town. Granton Established mission church, close to the hotel, is an elegant edifice of 1879, founded by the Duke of Buccleuch; while Granton and Wardie Free church, 1 mile SSE, was erected in 1880-81, and is adorned with several stained-glass windows. There are a county police station, a public school, a branch of the Royal Bank, and a reading-room (1881) of a literary association in Granton, which is provided with a filtered water supply brought from Corstorphine Hill. To the W is a small six gun battery used for the practice of the City of Edinburgh Artillery Volunteers, and still further in the same direction is Granton Quarry, from which the stone for the pier and breakwaters was excavated, and which was suddenly submerged by the sea one night about twenty years ago. The quarry is now used by an Edinburgh fishmonger as a lobster nursery. Pop. (1861) 661, (1871) 976, (1881) 927.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32, 1857.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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