Age of Sail in Everything: North Queensferry


I can’t seem to help finding Waterloo or Trafalgar monuments – among other things – wherever I go. Heading back onto the Fife Coastal Path at North Queensferry, after nearly a year away from it, I knew I would find a Waterloo Well, built by local sailors to celebrate the victory.

Waterloo Well

The well is decorated with a carving of an old sail ferry – the main reason for the existence of the village in those days.

Old ferry

I knew that the well was dated 1816, but it took me quite a bit of hunting to work out where.

Waterloo Well date

The Victorian Lion’s Head well just behind, with a proper pump, is decorated with an image apparently of a sailor and a fishwife fighting over the water!

Lion’s Head Well

Apart from that, North Queensferry is not a particularly Georgian place – like most of Fife, it tends to little old houses, and much newer ones. But it has all the right things for a Scottish sea port – a pier built by Rennie in 1810 and extended by Telford in 1828, and a little light tower built by one of the Stevensons in 1817.

Town Pier
North Queensferry light tower

The grounds of the little medieval chapel, destroyed by Cromwell’s troops in 1651, was walled in 1752 by the local seamen to form their graveyard, and they made sure to leave their mark on it.

Graveyard wall

The gates were locked, but apparently one of the stones has an inscription that would do for Jack Aubrey:

Now here we lay at anchor
With many in our fleet
In hopes to weigh at the last day
Our Admiral Christ to meet

Inverkeithing, a couple of miles up the road, produced an even better story – one house on the main street there, now a pub, was the birthplace of Samuel Greig, who started off as a local seaman and ended up – via the Royal Navy – as an Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy.

Samuel Greig

(According to the information boards, he was born in what became the Royal Hotel – but half of the Royal Hotel seems to have closed down, and the other half has become the Half Crown pub – a play on words which amused me!)

Half Crown

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