City of Edinburgh

Bottle Kilns: remnants of A.W. Buchan & Co., Pottery Factory, Portobello
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Bottle Kilns: remnants of A.W. Buchan & Co., Pottery Factory, Portobello

Located 3 miles (5 km) east of Edinburgh's centre, this seaside town on the Firth of Forth originated from a single thatched cottage in the mid 18th Century held by a veteran of Admiral Vernon's 1739 campaign at Puerto Bello in Panama. By the end of the century it had become a fashionable bathing resort for Edinburgh's well-to-do. It was also a working town and former industries produced bottles, bricks, glass, lead, paper, pottery, soap and mustard; an oyster bed was exploited after its discovery in 1839. The town was made a burgh in 1833 and was incorporated into Edinburgh in 1896. Notable buildings include the Old Parish Church (1809), the multi-spired St. John's Church (1909) and the villas along Regent Street (early 19th century). The Tower on Beach Lane was built c. 1786 as a summer house using Mediaeval carved stones. A railway station operated here between 1846 and 1964. The site was redeveloped as a Freightliner Terminal (next to Sir Harry Lauder Road) which operated until the 1980s, although the facility remains intact and the East Coast Main Line railway still passes.

Nearby is Joppa which was created in the early 19th century from a plan by Robert Brown. The village once had two railway stations, one at Milton Road (1847-59), the other at Brunstane Road (1859 - 1964). Portobello now serves as a popular residential suburb for Edinburgh.

Noted residents of the town were geologist Hugh Miller (1802-56), who shot himself at his home on Portobello High Street, physicist Sir David Brewster (1781 - 1868), Antarctic explorer William Speirs Bruce (1867 - 1921) and a young Sir William Russell Flint (1880 - 1969). Music hall artist Sir Harry Lauder was born here in 1870, as was pianist and composer Helen Hopekirk in 1856. Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) visited the home of son-in-law and biographer John Gibson Lockhart (1794 -1854) in Bellfield Street.

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