SEVERAL of Leiths former industries have passed out of existence in the Port.Thus, for instance, although Leith does an enormous business in the rectifying, blending, bonding, and exporting of spirits, yet there are nowadays no distilleries within the bounds of the Port. Enormous quantities of ale are exported from Leith to nearly every country in the world, but none of it is brewed in Leith itself.The chief wines coming into Leith are claret and burgundy from Bordeaux, champagne from Bordeaux and Dunkirk, sherry from Cadiz, port from Oporto, and burgundy from Australia.
It has five shipyards in which vessels up to four hundred feet can be built and engined, but now most work is done in the branch of ship repairing.
It has six public and two private dry docks, all thoroughly equipped for cleaning and repairing ships.
One record shows us that in 1777 there were almost sixteen thousand hundredweights of bottles made in Leith.
The remains of one of the old cones or furnaces may still be seen at Salamander Street, which owes its arresting name to what was once its chief industry.
Sime and Rankins, which built several warships in the days of the old "wooden walls." Their yard, now built on, was opposite the Custom House, but their dry dock, dating from 1720, and the oldest in Leith still remains, between the Shore and Sandport Street, and now forms the repairing dock of Messrs. The Sirius ran out of coal, and had to keep her furnaces going with timber and resin.
The picture of the launch of the Royal Mail steamship Forth, of one thousand nine hundred and forty tons, from the yard of Messrs. Since the war a principal feature of the work of all the firms we have named has been the altering and equipping of the vessels surrendered by the Germans. Cran and Somerville alone dealt with over thirty surrendered merchant ships.
It then takes on its bouquet or aroma, as it would not do if allowed to remain in the cask.
In many parts of Leith there are huge cellars in which are stored, bin after bin, a huge array of wine bottles, each on its side. It was they who raised the Vaults to their present height. Thomsons time, as is shown by the richly decorated walls and ceiling of the original office, small in size compared with the present counting-house.
Menzies in 1841a painting greatly prized by the firmshows that the launching of a vessel in Leith in those times, like the annual departure of the whaling fleet on its perilous voyage, was a notable eventthe day being quite a gala day. The Port has also had a large share in refitting for their ordinary commercial service those merchant ships which the Admiralty had called into its service, and which had done splendid duty in patrolling, mine-sweeping, or mariners of Leith brought wine from abroad for the use of the Abbot and Canons of Holyrood. In the days of Mary Queen of Scots, when there was so much coming and going between Scotland and France, claret from France was the chief wine imported into Leith.