Thursday, 19 July 2012

Persevere - Leith's Coat of Arms returns after 90 Years

Ninety two years after Leith was merged with Edinburgh the proud burgh is set to officially regain its historic coat of arms.

At a bestowal ceremony tomorrow at Leith Library the 'Armorial Bearings' of Leith will be presented to the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership following a campaign to reclaim this iconic part of Leith's history.

The picture above shows the recently erected flag pole on Leith Library (itself celebrating it's 80th birthday this week) which tomorrow will see a flag bearing the burgh's armorial bearings raised to officially conclude the first part of the campaign to see this symbol of Leith used more widely and correctly in the community.

The idea of reclaiming the coat of arms has been kicking about for a number of years. The guerilla action of erecting a 'Welcome to Leith' sign which bears a version of the coat of arms was a part of that. More recently when Leith Academy (which has it's own coat of arms) celebrated its 450th Anniversary two years ago pupils raised a petition calling on steps to be taken to return the coat of arms of Leith to the community. The petition was presented to me when I held the posts of Deputy Lord Provost of Edinburgh and Leith Councillor. Support was sought from the City of Edinburgh Council and the Lord Lyon (who's job it is to care for and oversee the use of all things heraldic in Scotland) was approached. When Leith had been absorbed the City Council had not taken over the arms and they had therefore come into the care of the Lord Lyon. In order to reclaim them a petition would have to be raised to the Court of the Lord Lyon. 

After discussion it was decided that the appropriate body to apply for the return of the arms would be Leith Neighbourhood Partnership which covers the Leith & Leith Walk Council wards and involves the three Leith Community Councils in its work. As it happens members of the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership had been underwhelmed by the bland logo they had and the ability to use the historic coat of arms was one that was compelling. 

So to conclude tomorrow will mark the end of that chapter - the regaining of the coat of arms. It will no doubt see that start of a new chapter as with the introduction of the flag it is hoped that other buildings will soon be able to fly the flag and proudly display the historic symbol of Leith. 

Rob Munn was Deputy Lord Provost of Edinburgh 2007-2012, Councillor for Leith ward 2007-2012 and Councillor for Leith Harbour ward 1996-2003.