Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Portobello is a beach resort 3 miles (5 km) to the east of Edinburgh city centre along the coast of the Firth of Forth from Leith. It is now a suburb of Edinburgh with a promenade fronting on to the wide sand beach. For many years it was a popular resort with Glaswegians, particularly when the Glasgow Fair trades holiday signalled the start of the rainy season in the west.
The area was originally known as Figgate Muir and was used as pasture by the monks of Holyrood Abbey. By the 18th century it had become a haunt of seamen and smugglers, and around the middle of that century gained the name Portobello from a cottage built by a seaman who had served in the 1739 campaign at Puerto Bello in Panama. It then developed into a fashionable bathing resort.
By 1801 Portobello Sands were being used for drill practice by The Edinburgh Light horse. Walter Scott was kicked by a horse and, while recovering, he finished “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”. In 1822, the Visit of King George IV to Scotland, organised by Scott, included a review of troops and Highlanders held on the sands, with spectators crowding the sand dunes.
Portobello also became an industrial town manufacturing bottles, bricks, glass, lead, paper, pottery, soap and mustard as well as developing an oyster fishery. In 1833 the town was made a burgh then in 1896 it was incorporated into Edinburgh. Between 1846 and 1964 a railway station provided ready access for visitors to the resort. Facilities developed including a large open air swimming pool and lido (now closed) and a fun-fair.
- Portobello Rugby Club
- The story of Portobello
- Overview of Portobello
- Portobello Community Website
- Portobello Local History
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