Water of Leith – Flowing in the Veins, book review

Book Review:

Water of Leith – Flowing in the Veins

By John P Stewart

In a previous posting I mentioned John’s book. Given the commonalities between the readership of my blog and his website www.oldleither.com I felt it might be appropriate to say a few words about his publication.


The changing face of Leith was what prompted John to start collecting the memories of the people who had lived there in the times when the population was considerably higher and manufacturing industries and dock related occupations flourished in the area.

The book covers a multitude of home, work and community experiences during the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Many contributors (who are now scattered all over the world) talk about their memories of living in particular streets, of the influence of the Salvation Army and Sunday School, the memories of the Leith Academy janitor, a Leith Provident milk boy, the tales of Captain William Lyle Hume, a cinema projectionist, a Navy Cadet, a steam trawlerman and even a shipbuilder’s granddaughter. There are also pictures of the Canadian reunion of Old Leithers which took place in June 2004.


The use of  anecdotes to bring the history of Leith alive, with contributions reflecting every individual’s own style adds appropriate charm to the book. The style also really gives a feeling of being there with the contributors, listening to their stories. There is a remarkable number of old and new photographs of people and places which brings the whole era back to life. Of the pictures of objects we used in every day life which are no longer, or at least in very different forms – well, I am sure mine is not the only household where guests have flicked through the book and exclaimed “we had one of those” and the picture below is a case in point!


This book is a genuine “living history” and shows life in Leith, warts and all. Touching, humorous, informative – as someone said when I mentioned it in my earlier posting – definitely worth reading.

My thanks to John for permission to reproduce the pictures from his book in this post.

Post script

I know that right up to the very last minute extra material was coming in to John, and he tells me that he has another book in the making. So if you have any contributions to make or want to be one of those who get in on his first printing, keep an eye on www.oldleither.com

Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010


About Ruth Macadam

Great Granddaughter of Henry Robb. School teacher.
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7 Responses to Water of Leith – Flowing in the Veins, book review

  1. louis vuitton says:

    Hi, I like your website. This is a nice site and I wanted to post a little note to let you know, great job! Thanks Jessica

  2. Pingback: A Little Treasure – “Build the Ships” (HMSO 1946) | Henry Robb's Shipyard

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  4. Pingback: A New Book from John Stewart – this time it is one of Odes about Leith. | Henry Robb's Shipyard

  5. Kim says:

    Hi Ruth, your site is great and it’s wonderful to know that someone is capturing these fantastic memories. Keep up the good work…
    I would be very interested in getting a copy of John Stewart’s book – could you tell me where I would be likely to pick up a copy?
    Kind regards

    • Thank you for your kind comments Kim. You can find details of the latest of John’s books on his site http://www.oldleither.com/ if you are interested in his previous publications he may have one or two copies still, contact him through the website pages. If you get lost on the way let me know and I will look up his email address elsewhere for you.


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