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Leith Eurowalk

Point H - The Norwegian Church

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Location: 25 North Junction Street

At the height of maritime trade between Scotland and Scandinavia, in the 1860s, 3,500 sailors crossed the North Sea to Leith each year.

In 1864 the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission was set up to look after their welfare.

Local Norwegians including Christian Salvesen, founder of the shipping company, raised funds to build the Scandinavian Lutheran Church at 25 Junction Street. It opened in 1868 and was the first in Scotland.

Norwegian Church in Leith

The distinctive plans by Johan Schroder of Copenhagen were adapted by Scottish architect James Simpson. Surviving Norwegian features are the tall slender spire and its fish scale tiles.

A reading room was added in 1885, providing books and educational lectures.

During World War II the church was an important meeting place for exiled Norwegian service personnel and families. It was visited by King Haakon of Norway in 1940 and by his successor King Olav V in 1962.

The post war Scandinavian community in Edinburgh continued to worship and celebrate weddings, christenings and the 100th Anniversary of the Mission until 1973 when the Mission ceased work in Leith and the church closed.

Twelve years later the building was sold and in 1988 became home to the Leith School of Art.

Click here for a detailed and fully illustrated account of the church.

Come out of the front of the Norwegian Church, turn left and continue walking along North Junction Street for 120 metres. Turn left along Prince Regent Street. Walk for 210 metres and turn right on to Madeira Street in front of the Leith Parish Church. Walk 80 metres along Madeira Street and the turn left on Portland Street. Walk 80 metres along Portland Street and turn right on John Paul Jones View. Walk 90 metres along John Paul Jones View and the John Paul Jones buildings are on your left.

Picture Credits: Friederike Brezing/Edinburgh4Europe 2021