Hidden from sight in Leith Police Station

Leith Police Station is within the old Leith Town Hall which was built in 1827/28 as the Leith Sheriff and Police Court at a cost of £3260. Converted to Police and Burgh Offices in 1868 (as Leith was a separate town to Edinburgh) with the addition of the Police cells in 1878 and further refurbishment in 1891/2.

Three storied terrace addition to the Burgh Office in 1868

Entrance to the grand ceremonial stairs leading to the Leith Council Chambers

Leith Coat of Arms

The interior of the building has been much altered, mainly in connection with its present use as a Police Station. But it is the first floor that has been somewhat hidden from the public since 1920. This is a very important date as a plebiscite was held in that year in which the people of Leith voted 26,810 to 4,340 against the proposed merger of Leith into Edinburgh. This result of rejection was ignored and Edinburgh and Leith did indeed amalgamate, making the Burgh Council surplus to requirements and the Leith Council Chambers and Sheriff Court were closed.

But the Council Chambers still exist as if they were still in use. A bit of a time capsule which is open to the public on one or two days a year, normally Doors Open Day and possibly Leith Festival.

The Landing of His Majesty George IVth at Leith, 15th August 1822 by Alexander Carse

As the Town Hall was completed in 1828 a painting of the arrival in Leith of King George IVth painted by Alexander Carse was gifted to the town and placed on the wall of the Council Chambers, where it remains to this day. (Prof. Alice Roberts of Channel 4’s Historic Towns filmed here in September 2020 and it may be included in the programme on 12/12/2020 on Georgian Edinburgh).

The King arrived at Leith in 1822, the first monarch to come to Scotland since Charles II’s coronation in 1651 so this was very special. Greeted by the great and good of the day, including Sir Walter Scott on the quayside at the Shore, Leith the King entered his carriage and heading into Edinburgh. (Not all great and good though, can you see the pickpocket – dressed in red – in the bottom right of the painting?)

Paintings of former Provosts of Leith

The walls also have on display paintings of former Leith Provosts and the ceiling is intricately painted.

Beautifully painted ceiling of Leith Council Chambers (apologies re glare)

My favourite item in the room however is the whistling voice pipe. Maybe for ordering more tea? Lift off the top – a whistle within – and blow down the pipe to the whistle at the other end to pass on your message. Replace the top so that your request can be replied to, with a whistle…….

Whistling Blow Pipe. An early telephone…..

Sadly the court room furniture and fittings were removed and this is now just an office space. But through an adjacent door where miscreants would be led away on conviction, there still exist the Victorian Police and Court cells.

Doorway leading from Leith Sheriff Court to the Victorian Cells complex

The cells have not been in use for about 20 years but the scratches and scrapings on the walls and doors are part of a great, though somewhat unfortunate social history.

As an aside,  let’s not forget that this is still a working Police Station. The name is famous worldwide due to the the tongue twister – The Leith Police Dismisseth Us.

The tongue twister on a piece of street furniture outside Leith Police Station

Reputedly used by Police the world over before the invention of breathalysers to judge the sobriety of drivers, the whole of the tongue twister goes like this;

 

The Leith Police dismisseth us, they thought we sought to stay

The Leith Police dismisseth us, they thought we’d stay all day

The Leith Police dismisseth us, we both sighed sighs apiece

And the sighs that we sighed as we said goodbye, were the size of the Leith Police.

 

Try it.

 

 

The exterior of Leith Police Station and the Leith Council Chambers are part of a walk conducted by Edinburgh Walks. Get in touch at contact@edinburghwalks.com if you wish to know more.

 

Edinburgh Walks return on 15th July 2020

 

Where we go when the storms are coming……

We have just experienced Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis here in Edinburgh over the last week or so. Added to that we have strong winter squalls on a regular basis so – on occasion – it is nice to get away from our winter weather.

A short time ago we at Edinburgh Walks headed away to the north of the Greek island of Crete, to the quieter western side and the town of Chania.

Old Town Chania, Crete.

Amongst others, Romans, Venetians and the Ottomans were in charge here and the back streets of the Old Town by the Harbour are lovely.

A view across the rooftops, Chania, Crete.

A few days is probably enough to visit the museums and catch up on the sights. Thereafter, we headed for the bus station to take the 2+ hour journey south to the small town of Paleochora on the coast of the Libyan Sea. Skirting the western edge of the Lefka Ori mountain range, Paleochora is an excellent base for exploring the South West of Crete on foot. Having walked part of the E4 Trans-European walking route in Eastern Crete before – around the Pefki Gorge area – it was nice to see the E4 route also comes through Paleochora.

After some advice from locals, one of the suggestions was a walk to the village of Anidri and a walk/scramble/slide down the Anidri Gorge, then join the E4 trail for the last 4kms back into town.. The walk from Paleochora leaves the town to the south east along the near empty beaches there. The temperature was very pleasant 24 degrees celsius (75+ degrees Fahrenheit) when we set out so with a bottle of water in the rucksack it was a lovely 6km walk on a winding road

Anidri village, Crete.

being careful to keep in to the side when traffic approached…. there were no pavements here.

Anidri is a very small village and it seems to centre around a café Kafeneio Sto Scholeio and the local Church of Saint George Agios Georgios. As the name suggests the café is a former school and the walls still show the class photographs of many years ago and pictures of the school itself.

Kafeneio Sto Scholeio, Anidri, Crete

This café has a great reputation for very fresh food, most of the fruit and vegetables coming from their own garden.  We were told to try the freshly baked cakes with our coffee on our stop. This advice was not wrong. Café Frappé and freshly out of the oven chocolate cake……

View of Anidri Gorge & Libyan Sea from Kafeneio Sto Scholeio, Anidri, Crete.

from the terrace, overlooking the Libyan Sea was great.

After our coffee break, we went to the adjacent Church of St. George which is dedicated to both St.George and St. Nicholas, therefore the two small aisles and two doors.

Church of Agios Georgios, Anidri, Crete.

It is quite acceptable to enter churches as long as there are no services on and you are respectfully dressed. As there was a key in the door in we went.

Inside Church of Agios Georgios, Anidri, Crete.

It was very atmospheric, with beautifully painted icons to the saints on display.

Frescoes within Church of Agios Georgios, Anidri, Crete.

There were frescoes which appeared to be of Saint George on the walls which were painted by Ioannis Pagomenos around 1323 and have darkened with age and smoke from the candles.

Leaving the church, we headed down the path towards the top of the Anidri Gorge.

View down Anidri Gorge to the Libyan Sea, Anidri, Crete.

The Gorge itself is around 5 km long and the top is generally easy to navigate. It would appear a different story in the spring, when the snow of the Lefki Ori melts and the water comes tumbling down all the gorges. There are some very large rocks to clamber over and then there is this problem…..

Rope ladder , Anidri Gorge, Crete.

A rope ladder had been placed against the face of a waterfall to ‘assist’ your descent. It was a 12ft drop and the lowest two rungs of the ladders were… well see for yourself.

Broken ropeladder, Anidri Gorge, Crete.

The rock around the rope ladder were very slippery due to being part of a waterfall for much of the year so this little part wasn’t much fun, but made you concentrate. From here on down it was a beautiful walk. At the bottom of the Gorge we were advised to seek out the Cantina on Gialiskari Beach where we would get a cold beer as reward for the descent.

Beer at the Cantina, Gialiskari Beach, Crete.

This is where we joined the E4 Trans-European Trail for the few kilometres back along beside the beach and into Paleochora.

And then for a sun downer.

Sun going down over Libyan Sea, Paleochora, Crete.

There are many walks around this part of Crete which are easy to organise by yourself using the very good bus service and a good map, though the first bus does leave at an early hour. However there are a few walking companies based in Paleochora who can organise personal trips for one day or longer and have their own vehicles to transport you to the beginning and bring you back from the end of your walk.

Paleochora has many restaurants, kafenion and bars to keep you occupied and with the exception of the height of summer, there always appears to be good accommodation choices available.

If you wish any more information about this trip by Edinburgh Walks, then please don’t hesitate us on contact@edinburghwalks.com

 

Now, back in Edinburgh. Where’s my rain jacket………