North Queensferry


North Queensferry
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

North Queensferry

A picturesque former ferry port on the River Forth, opposite South Queensferry, now located at the northern ends of the Forth Rail and Road Bridges, with the Queensferry Crossing behind the latter.

The ferry crossing is said to take its name from Queen Margaret, who regularly crossed the river here from Edinburgh Castle to Dunfermline Palace. On her death in 1093 the Queen made her last crossing on the royal ferry to her final resting place at Dunfermline Abbey, which was subsequently given the ferry rights by her son King David I (1084 - 1153). The route became popular with pilgrims after King Malcolm IV (1141-65) granted free passage to visit the shrines of St. Andrew and St. Margaret.

Between 1867 and 1893, the ferry crossing was controlled by the North British Railway, which built the Forth Railway Bridge (1890). Car ferries continued to operate between North and South Queensferry until 1964, when the Forth Road Bridge was opened to traffic. Its Town Pier was built by John Rennie in 1810-18 and extended for steamships by John Telfer in 1828. The Railway Pier, dating from 1877, was later used by car ferries. At the Pierhead is the Light Tower, with its hexagonal copper-domed lantern (1817).

Designated a conservation area in 1984, North Queensferry is now largely a dormitory village. It benefits from a B-listed primary school and three hotels. Its chief tourist attractions are the three bridges and the Deep-Sea World marine aquarium and Port Laing, the site of a Naval Air Station during the First World War that is now noted for its beach, accessible along the Fife Coastal Path.

Within the village are the remains of St. James' Chapel, dating from the 14th C. This was gifted to Dunfermline Abbey by Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329) and is today a scheduled ancient monument. Houses in the village date back to the 17th C. North Queensferry Railway Station opened in 1890 and lies high above the village on the approach to the Forth Bridge. The station buildings were restored by North Queensferry Heritage Trust as the Forth Bridge Heritage Centre.

One of two Briggers Memorials is located here - the other is in South Queensferry. Unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond in 2012, these commemorate the men who died building the Forth Bridge. Notable residents included Prime Minister Gordon Brown (b.1951) and author Iain Banks (1954 - 2013).

Quarrying has been an important industry, the largest being Cruicks Quarry located behind the village on the Ferry Hills peninsula. Operational since the early 19th C., these quarries exploited whinstone to make cobble-stones and more-recently road metal. This stone was also used to construct the dry dock at the nearby Rosyth Naval Dockyard.

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