Council bid secures Leith Custom House

Posted on 16/07/2014 by


The Council’s bid to purchase the Custom House building has been accepted – new Heritage Centre for Leith?

Customs_House_Commercial_Street_Leith_from_the_west__2__JADU_1The city council placed a bid to purchase the Custom House building in Leith – currently owned and used by National Museums Scotland – last month. That bid was accepted earlier today, and the council will now look at ways of how it might work with partners to develop the building into a hub for the Leith community – which would include the housing of a museum to tell the story of Leith’s history.

Culture and Sport Convener Councillor Richard Lewis, said: “I am delighted that the Council has been able to step forward to acquire the building. This is excellent news for the Leith community who have campaigned for more than six years to save the historic Custom House building.

“The building and the surrounding area share a rich history, with Custom House once acting as the main site of imports in Leith. Our offer should secure the future of the building for public use, as a hub for the local community.

“Now that the Council’s bid has been accepted by National Museums Scotland, we are determined to take the project forward and identify how and when we can help open the doors to a heritage centre for Leith.

“We are currently undertaking due diligence procedures and a report will be put to the full Council on how to take plans forward.”

Leith Custom House was built between 1810-1812 and is a large Georgian building of neo-classical design, by the architect Robert Reid. It comprises two tall storeys and a formidable portico entrance.

The Custom House was the venue for the collection of duty payable on goods imported through Leith, and it was built on North Leith’s Sandport area, a site close to the quayside which had formerly been used for boat-building.

National Museums of Scotland have been using the building for storage and it has been closed to the public, but it now seems certain that – two hundred years on – the grand old building will soon be bustling once again.