A-Z of Leith by Lisa Sibbald - A Preview
A-Z of Leith with text and photography by Edinburgh author Lisa Sibbald is published by Amberley on 15th November 2018 and is the follow up to her earlier book from the same publisher, A-Z of Edinburgh.
Leith and Edinburgh have long and inter-woven histories, and although Leith formally became part of Edinburgh in 1920, the matter was at the time highly controversial, and Leith has always retained its own very distinctive cultural identity. Few, if any people, born in Leith would ever say that they came from Edinburgh, but they would still proudly tell you that they were “Leithers”.
This A-Z of Leith is, over 96 pages, the author’s own look at the history, people and places of Leith, and the early formative years of Leith as an independent town and port are well covered here. Leith has a rich history and was once a thriving port that imported and exported goods and commodities to many parts of the world, and this resulted in much wealth for many living there. The wealth of course was, as always, never evenly distributed and a wide social divide between rich and poor was created. Leith has for centuries been a port, and alongside that the obvious professions that build up around any port are also evident here and touched upon in this book.
Few locations in Scotland have seen as much social and economic change as Leith has over the centuries and the slow erosion of traditional industries like shipbuilding and bonded warehousing took a heavy toll on Leith over the years and particularly into the latter half of the 20th century. In recent decades though, Leith has seen enormous regeneration as new investment development has reclaimed many of the abandoned warehouses and dock areas. So much demand in fact has been generated for new space in Leith that much of this development is taking place on re-claimed land.
This is not though just a book about the history of Leith; the community of Leith is always thriving and adapting to new social climates, and as it has done for centuries, Leith is home to many people from different countries and cultures.
Leith has also over the years been home to many artists and writers. The Scottish Colourist J D Fergusson was born In Leith and today artists such as Leith born singer and songwriter Dean Owens continue to keep the creative spark of Leith alive and well.
Throughout this book, the author does a fine job of looking at Leith’s people and history of yesterday, but also at the same time keeping clearly focused on the fact that Leith is not just a reference in history books but is still a living community of people, businesses and enterprises.
Preview by Tom King
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