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Portobello Edinburgh

Places to visit historic site famous people and the Beach.

Portobello Edinburgh

The name Portobello comes from Portobello Hut, which was a hut built by a sailor called George Hamilton in 1742. He named it after a battle he fought in  Panama in 1739, the Battle of Puerto Bello. The Portobello Hut was used as a stop for travellers on the coaches between Edinburgh and London, as it was the only building in the area The image below shows Portobello and the Beach under the Balmoral Tower Clock Walter Scott Monument looking East to West. 

Portobello Beach and Princes Street Edinburgh Edinburgh


Portobello was created as a burgh by Act of Parliament in 1833, and became a part of Edinburgh in 1896.

It is a beach resort located three miles (5 km) to the east of the city centre of Edinburgh, with a promenade that stretches from Seafield on the outskirts of Leith to Joppa just outside Musselburgh. Portobello was at its peak as a resort in the late 19th century. Now Portobello Sailing and Rowing Club use the area for sailing kayaking and surfing. On the good summer days the beach is crowded with sun lovers and people out for a stroll along the promenade.

Portobello grew from a small coastal village called Figgate

(The estuary to the Figgate Burn still flows into the Forth) where smugglers and highwaymen would hideout.

The name Portobello has been recorded in manuscripts as far back as 1739.

Portobello Beach Edinburgh
Figgate Burn and  Where Old Harbour stood.JPG
Figgate Burn Estuary.


A pottery factory has stood near the Figgate Burn in Portobello since 1770. These are the only surviving kilns of their kind in Scotland from a once thriving industry that goes back over 200 years. The pottery closed in 1972 and moved to a new factory in Crieff Perthshire.

Portobello Pottery Kilns Portobello EdinburghO

Hugh Miller Portobello High Street Edinburgh

Hugh Miller born in 1802 became a stone mason but known as a geologist and palaeontologist and writer (The Old Red Sandstone and My Schools and Schoolmasters two of his publications) spent his last years in his house in Tower Street Portobello where he shot himself in 1856. His funeral was one of the largest Edinburgh had witnessed. He was the editor of a religious newspaper and a leading figure which led to the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. A great man and a true Scot. Plaque in High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh and Portobello High Street. There is a bust of Hugh Miller in the Hall of Heroes in the Wallace Monument, Stirling.

Hugh Miller Portobello High Street. Port


Harry Lauder was born in the cottage 3 Bridge Street Portobello in 1870. Sir Harry Lauder was a world wide musical entertainer and three of his most famous songs were Roamin in the Gloamin, I Love a Lassie and Keep right on to the end of the road. Sir Harry Lauder was the highest paid entertainer of his time and the first UK artist to sell one million records.

Harry Lauder's place of Birth Portobello Edinburgh
Harry Lauder Birthplace plaque Edinburgh


The pillars were originally in the garden of Argyle House Hope Lane Portobello. They are constructed from moulded blocks of Coade stone named after Eleanor Coade the inventor of the artificial stone which she called Litho di pyra (which is an ancient Greek word for stone twice fired). Her work can be seen all over the world and is on some of the most prominent buildings in the UK including Buckingham Palace. She died at the age of 98. Coade Stone is no longer used as Portland Cement was invented and the factory ceased trading in 1833. The Pillars can be seen in a garden of Portobello Promenade at the foot of John Street.

Code Pillars Portobello Beach Edinburgh



        William Barnie known as Ned was the first Scotsman to swim the English Channel. At the age of 54 Ned was also the oldest person to swim the English Channel a record he held for 28 years. He was also the first to swim the English Channel in both directions (on the 28 July 1951 from England to France and on the 16 August 1951 from France to England) within the same year. The house where he lived has a plaque in his honour and can be found in Straiton Place, Portobello.

 SCIENCE TEACHER  1898 - 1983

William Ned Barnie Portobello Edinburgh.
Ned Barnie Channel Swimmer Lived Here Portobello Edinburgh


Joppa was a major supplier of salt from the 1600s to 1953 when the last salter closed for business.

Salt was extracted from the sea by evaporation on large metal pans heating the salt water which evaporated to leave the salt. The oldest House in the area Rock Cottage which was used by the

salt workers. It was originally a lodge owned by a wealth landowner in the 1500s.  

Rock Cottage Oldest House Portobello Edinburgh
Rock Cottage Plaque Oldest House Portobello Edinburgh


The Tower at Portobello was built in 1785 by Mr James Cunningham from stones window sills and lintels from properties that were knocked down to allow the South Bridge in Edinburgh to be built.

The Tower Portobello Edinburgh
The Tower Plaque Portobello Built c 1785

Sir William Russell Flint | Portobello Edinburgh

Sir William Russell Flint died in December 1969, aged 89. He was born in Edinburgh on 4th April 1880 and went to school at Daniel Stewart’s College Edinburgh. He lived in Portobello with his parents for 14 years and became a worldwide known name and highly rated watercolourist. He also was the president of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours and was Knighted in 1947.

William Russell Flint Plaque.JPG
William Russel Flint House. Portobello E

Dr Hugh Dewar

Memorial Fountain

Abercorn Park

Portobello Edinburgh

Dr Hugh Dewar’s patient Jane Anderson, died the day after Dr Hugh Dewar made a house call to deliver Jane’s first child in February 1914. Dr Dewar while trying to remove the placenta and umbilical cord noticed a ‘cord’ which he proceeded to pull. It was found that he had in fact removed the mucous membrane lining of the large intestine. No one can understand how a medically qualified person could make such a mistake but he did and Jane Anderson died in agony aged 25 the next day. Dr Dewar was arrested but on the day before his trial for culpable homicide, he took his own life. The inscription on the fountain reads; “This fountain has been erected in remembrance of Dr Hugh Dewar, Portobello, by his grateful patients and numerous friends, who deplore the loss in the prime of manhood of a kind friend and skilful and beloved physician. His quiet charity was known to the needy. 1866-1914”

Dr Hugh Dewar Memorial Fountain Portobel
Dr Hugh Dewar Memorial Plaque Portobello Edinburgh

John Gibson Lockhart Bellfield Street Portobello

John Gibson Lockhart (1794 – 1854) Son in Law of Sir Walter Scott and author of Sir Walter Scott’s Biography. John Lockhart was a writer and editor.  He lived in the house at 37 Bellfield Street Portobello in 1827 for a short time and was regularly visited by Sir Walter Scott.

John Gibson Lockhart Sir Walter Scott's Biographer Lived Here Portobello Edinburgh
Sir Walter Scott Portobello Edinburgh

Helen Hopekirk

Portobello Edinburgh
Helen Hopekirk was born on 20 May 1856, Portobello High Street. Helen Hopekirk attended the Edinburgh Institution for the Education of Young Ladies at 23 Charlotte Square. Helen Hopekirk was best known as a pianist and teacher during her lifetime.

Hopekirk Portobello Edinburgh

Old Town Hall Portobello Edinburgh

Portobello was a separate burgh from Edinburgh until in 1896 it was incorporated into Edinburgh by Act of Parliament. The first town hall was built in 1863, and is presently a Baptist Church 187 Portobello High Street, The second town hall opened in 1878 on Portobello High Street, which is now the Police Station. A new town hall opened in 1914 which is still in use.

Portobello Town Hall No.1 Plaque Portobello Edinburgh
Portobello Town Hall Portobello Edinburgh
Portobello Town Hall Portobello Edinburgh
Portobello Town Hall Plaque Portobello E


The Figgate Burn is where the original name of the area now known as Portobello was named.

The history books show a place called Figgate Muir a moor land with a beach front, with a burn (The Figgate Burn)

 running from the Duddingston Loch. 

Figgate was first mentioned in 1296 William Wallace met with troops on the Figgate Whins.

The Figgate Burn
Figgate Burn Figgate Park Portobello Edinburgh
Figgate Pond and Park
Arthur Seat from Figgate Park Portobello

Figgate Pond and Picnic Park

The Figgate park has a pond with a walkway over part of it and it is a great way to see the wild life that is in the park. There are also carved sculptures that can be found. A place for a day out, with plenty of space for the children and with picnic tables provided, bring your lunch and have a picnic.

Wooden Carving in Figgate Park
Figgate Park Wild Life Portobello Edinburgh
Figgate Park Wild Life Portobello Edinburgh
Figgate Park Wild Life Portobello Edinburgh
Figgate Park Wild Life Portobello Edinburgh

Things to see around the Figgate Park, Wildlife, flowers and carvings 

Walkway over Figgate Pond
Wild Flowers in Figgate Park
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