“You’ve heard o’ Paul Jones, have you not, have you not?
And you’ve heard o’ Paul Jones, have you not?
How he came to Leith Pier, and fill’d the folks wi’ fear,
And he fill’d the folks wi’ fear, did he not, did he not?
And he fill’d the folks wi’ fear, did he not?”
Born in 1747 on the Solway coast, John Paul, who added the Jones later to avoid arrest and trial, had a colourful career in the British and later American Revolutionary navies. Because of his success in capturing British vessels he was hailed as a hero by the French and sailed out of Brest round the north of Scotland to attack the east coast as a distraction whilst French and Spanish fleets prepared to invade the south coast of Britain. Leith and other Scottish ports were vulnerable as post Culloden their armaments had been confiscated. Luckily a fierce gale blew his ships away from Leith and soon after he engaged and overpowered HMS Serapis, captured The Countess of Scarborough and sailed both into Holland to a hero’s welcome. Louis XVI gave him a gold hilted sword and made him a Chevalier of France.
Leith employed James Craig to design a fort. He was not a military architect, the building would not have withstood attack but was used to house French prisoners during the Napoleonic wars. It was decommissioned in 1955. The listed parts remain in John Paul Jones View, where the rest of the building was demolished to make way for the Fort estate, since also demolished.
Details can be found at this link.
This is the end of the Leith EuroWalk. We hope you enjoyed it.
To get back to the start of this walk by turn right on John Paul Jones View and walk 8o metres down Canon Wynd to where there is a parking lot for the houses. Turn right onto Lindsay Street and walk for 190 metres (it curves left) to the end and then turn right on Lindsay Road. Turn right and follow Lindsay Road and then Commercial Street until you reach the Custom House again.
There are also bus stops on Lindsay Road and Commercial Street served by several bus lines.
Picture credits: Bill Rodger/Edinburgh4Europe