Granton Harbour

The 5th Duke of Buccleuch, who owned land in the area (and much elsewhere as well), saw the opportunity to build a new harbour on part of the estate he owned, which included Caroline Park House


The harbour  dates from the 1830s at a time when, Leith, a couple of miles downstream, was not developed( but later became the main port for Edinburgh).


The Duke was advised about the design of the harbour by Robert Stevenson, better known as a lighthouse engineer - and the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, the author.  Robert Stevenson oversaw construction which began in 1836 but was not completed until 1863, although part of the harbour was open by 1838.


The illustration on the right is of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch discussing the plans for Granton Harbour as depicted on the bronze relief of the Duke's statue in Parliament Square, Edinburgh.



Granton Harbour in the 1860's

buccleuch5_edin_granton_harbour_planning_x0467v granton_castle-wikvi

Granton has a long history and there was a castle documented there in 1479, owned by John Melville of Carnbee, Fife. That castle stood to the north-west of the current mansion, Caroline Park. The building fell derelict by the 18th century.


As can be seen from this graphic the stones from the castle were eventually used as a quarry for later buildings in the 19th century.

granton_harbour_fishing madelvic-car

The new harbour at Granton was used for import and export of goods. It became a successful port for the export of coal, and import of esparto grass for making paper. The fishing fleet also grew considerably, leading to the development of an ice house in the late 19th century, to the west of the harbour.


The first example of the fossil crustacean Waterstonella was found in the Granton shrimp beds by the keeper of geology at the Royal Scottish Museum. The foreshore area between Granton and Newhaven is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) aimed at encouraging and preserving the resource of fossils in the area.

From 3 February 1850, the world's first ferry-train began operating between Granton and Burntisland, Fife,  across the Forth estuary.  A paddle-steamer "Leviathan" carried the trains, which formed the main link across the Forth until completion of the Forth Rail Bridge in 1890. Passenger and car ferry services continued into the 1960s.



The oldest surviving car factory building in Britain is located in Granton. The Madelvic Motor Carriage Company works were built in 1898 for the manufacture of electric cars. Like the gasometers in Granton, the factory is also a listed building (although removal has been authorised).


Granton Gasworks were formerly one of Edinburgh waterfront's most prominent landmarks, comprising three blue gasometers which were clearly visible from Fife and the centre of Edinburgh. Two of the structures, built in the 1930s and 1970s, have now been demolished. The third structure remains, and is listed as an example of Victorian industrial architecture.


The Duke of Buccleuch did not perform the opening ceremony for the harbour as he was in London for the Coronation of Queen Victoria. His younger brother John did the honours, arriving in his yacht the Lufra. There is still a street nearby called Lufra Bank, which has a good view over the harbour.