Beside the Water of Leith

The Shore, Leith

'The King's Wark'  -  1997

The King's Wark, beside the Water of Leith, The Shore, Leith

   Eric Gold, East End, London, England




Eric Gold

East End, London, England

Beside the Water of Leith

This photograph looks to the east towards:

-  The Shore, that runs along the side of the Water of Leith, and

-   Bernard Street, the road that leads straight ahead beyond the bridge

The blue building on the corner is The King's Wark. 

Thank you to Eric Gold, known to many as Eric McKenzie, now living in the East End, London, for providing this photograph.

 Eric wrote:

The Jungle

"Here is a photo of the famous 'Jungle' (King's Wark Pub) beside the Water of Leith at Bernard Street.  I took the photo on my last visit to Edinburgh in July 1997.

The 'Jungle' is, I believe, the oldest pub in Leith and the women were hard as nails (ha ha ha).   I believe it's now a posh restaurant.

The lady who ran the pub, along with Stewart's Dance Hall next to the Regent Cinema in Abbeyhill (now demolished) was called Peggy Cook and her husband was called Arthur.  They also had Piries Hotel in Coates Gardens near Haymarket. They were good friends of our family and my cousin done a stint behind the bar at the Jungle."

Eric Gold, East End, London:  August 5, 2007


 Eric added:


"The Jungle was a good place and I had many a laugh there.  Opposite the jungle there was a pub called Fairleys, then renamed the Merrymaker (ha ha ha ha).  What a dive!

The governor had a huge Puma cat in a cage which hissed and spat at you (ha ha ha). I liked drinking in Leith as it had character, like the Whitehoose, Rutherford's and Stewart's pubs."

Eric Gold, East End, London:  August 8, 2007



Over the past few years, others have also sent me their memories of the wild cat or puma that used to be at Fairleys.  I've added their stories to this page on the EdinPhoto web site:

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  February 10 2014


The King's Wark

Here are some brief comments about the history of this site:

"The King's Wark is one of four buildings built on the site of Leith's earliest business enterprises.

King James I built the original King's Wark (1438) to stimulate trade in the port.  It had merchants' accommodation, warehouses, shipbuilders' workshops and taverns.

I their time the buildings have been used as Scotland's principal arsenal, housed convalescing Plague victims, and even contained a tennis court!"

The comments above are taken from a notice board at the Shore erected by the City of Edinburgh District Council, Forth Ports Authority and the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.



Keith Torrie

Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland

Thank you to Keith Torrie who saw Eric Gold's photo above and wrote: 


'Wee Jackie'

"As a small kid in the early 1960s my dad used to take me to 'Wee Jackie's' barbershop on the corner, directly across the road from the King's Wark.

I see the doorway is still there, with the barber's poles left carved into the stonework but the old red & white stripes are obviously long gone in this photo."

My memories include the smell of the hair-oil that Wee Jackie used and the special reward of a US Superman comic if I sat still in the chair.

From what I remember, he had a revolving wire stand in the middle of the shop stocked with all manner of exotic publications. The Superman comic was likely to be the only one suitable for my age!"


"I wonder if anyone remembers when Wee Jackie's shut down."

Keith Torrie, Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland: September 14, 2010

Reply to Keith

If you'd like to send a reply to Keith, please email me, then I'll pass it on to him.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: September 14, 2010



David Legge


Thank you to David Legge who wrote:


'Wee Jackie'

"The owner of the barber's shop at The King's Wark was a former amateur snooker (or billiards?) champion who stood about 4' 6" high.

He stood on a box to cut your hair and gave you a shave with a cut-throat razor.  The shop closed in the 1970s."

David Legge, Edinburgh:  July 5, 2011



Frank Ferri

Newhaven, Edinburgh

Thank you to Frank Ferri who replied


'Wee Jackie'

"Wee Jackie, who stood on a box to play, was Jackie Gillon, he moved from his shop to the right of the Kings Wark where he had been since the early 1940s to premises on the other corner, Bernard St / Shore, probably in the 1960s when redevelopment in the area took place

He was a successful member of the snooker/billiards team at premises above the old Palace cinema Leith now the 'Fit o the Walk' pub/restaurant."

Frank Ferri, Newhaven, Edinburgh:  July6, 2011



George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George Smith who replied


   The King's Wark, beside the Water of Leith  -  The Shore, Leith

"Close examination of this photo jolted my memory, way back to January 1949. My first job was in the Custom House just across the bridge from The Shore.

I went, for the first and last time, to the barbers on the corer.  My only recollection is that I acquired a skin infection which caused a scaly rash on my neck.  It must have cleared up quickly with Germolene, as I lost it before I left for London in late February.

My father diagnosed the rash as 'Barber's Rash' so it must have been a quite common experience, perhaps due to the use of a razor to trim up my  tender teenage neck."

George T Smith, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada



David Legge


David Legge added:


'Wee Jackie'

"Further to my last reply (3 above) the shop was John Gillon, Hairdresser at 35 Shore, Leith.  He was known as 'Wee Jackie', an amateur Champion Snooker player.  He bought his cut throat razors from the barber's supply shop on Elm Row, beside Gayfield Square."

David Legge, Edinburgh:  July 11, 2011



Keith Thomson


Keith Thomson wrote:

The King's Wark

"I have come across an old pub sign which has a painting of a King on it with the heading 'The King's Wark' with a corner bracket which obviously fixed it to a street corner.

Do you know if this pub in Leith had this sign?"

Keith Thomson, August 24, 2011


It seems fairly certain to me that this sign would have come the King's Wark on The Shore, Leith. 

I don't know of any other pub by that name, and have not found any other using Google searches.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh, August 31, 2011



Lewis Wood

Lewis Wood wrote:


"I was sent by my mum for a haircut to Jackie the barber every 2 weeks!!  His name was Jackie Gillan and he was a good billiard player playing in competitions at Infirmary Street.

I remember once when he cut one sideburn shorter than the other.  When I complained he said he has cut them correctly, but that it was my ears that we're out of alignment - wonderful!!

He had an assistant, Bob.

This was around 1960, but I don't know when his barber's shop shut.  It's now a cafeI had a coffee there, but the proprietors didn't know of this little piece of recent history."

Lewis Wood, September 23, 2012


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