Newhaven Harbour

An old and picturesque haven on the south side of the Firth of Forth, Newhaven Harbour lies 1½ miles (2.5 km) north of the centre of Edinburgh. The harbour was built from 1504 as a Royal Dockyard by King James IV (1473 - 1513).

The most famous ship built at Newhaven was the Great Michael, the biggest of its time, which was launched in 1511 following six years of work. It was 73m (240 feet) in length, 11m (36 feet) in width and had a hull of oak some 3m (10 feet) thick. With a crew of 420, the ship was also capable of carrying 1000 troops. It is said its construction laid waste to all the woods in Fife but the ship proved costly to maintain and was sold to the French shortly after James' death.

The harbour became the principal oyster port of Scotland from 1572 until around 1890, when they became scarce due to overworking. Herring was the main-stay from the late 18th Century. The sea wall was built in 1837 by Thomas Grainger (1794 - 1852) and John Miller (1805-83), around the same time as they were building the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway, which never actually came to the harbour. The breakwater was the work in 1864 of David and Thomas Stevenson (1815-86 and 1818-87), while the harbour was enlarged in 1876. The distinctive white cast-iron Newhaven Lighthouse was built at this time.

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