1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Musselburgh

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MUSSELBURGH, a municipal and police burgh of Midlothian, Scotland, 51/2 m. E. of Edinburgh by the North British railway. Pop. (1901), 11,711. The burgh, which stretches for a mile along the south shore of the Firth of Forth, is intersected by the Esk and embraces the village of Fisherrow on the left bank of the river. Its original name is said to have been Eskmouth, its present one being derived from a bed of mussels at the mouth of the river. While preserving most of the ancient features of its High Street, the town has tended to become a suburb of the capital, its fine beach and golf course hastening this development. The public buildings include the town-hall (dating from 1762 and altered in 1876), the tolbooth (1590), and the grammar school. Loretto School, one of the foremost public schools in Scotland, occupies the site of the chapel of Our Lady of Loretto, which was founded in 1534 by Thomas Duthie, a hermit from Mt Sinai. This was the favourite shrine of Mary of Guise, who betook herself hither at momentous crises in her history. The 1st earl of Hertford destroyed it in 1544, and after it was rebuilt the Reformers demolished it again, some of its stones being used in erecting the tolbooth. In the west end of the town is Pinkie House, formerly a seat of the abbot of Dunfermline, but transformed in 1613 by Lord Seton. It is a fine example of a Jacobean mansion, with a beautiful fountain in the middle of the court-yard. The painted gallery, with an elaborate ceiling, 100 ft. long, was utilized as a hospital after the battle of Pinkie in 1547. Prince Charles Edward slept in it the night following the fight at Prestonpans (1745). Near the tolbooth stands the market cross, a stone column with a unicorn on the top supporting the burgh arms. At the west end of High Street is a statue of David Macbeth Moir (“Delta,” 1798–1851), Musselburgh’s most famous son. The antiquity of the town is placed beyond doubt by the Roman bridge across the Esk and the Roman remains found in its vicinity. The chief bridge, which carries the high road from Edinburgh to Berwick, was built by John Rennie in 1807. The principal industries include paper-making, brewing, the making of nets and twine, bricks, tiles and pottery, tanning and oil-refining, besides saltworks and seed-crushing works. The fishery is confined to Fisherrow, where there is a good harbour. The Links are the scene every year of the Edinburgh race meetings and of those of the Royal Caledonian Hunt which are held every third year. Archery contests also take place at intervals under the auspices of the Royal Company of Archers. Most of the charitable institutions—for instance, the convalescent home, fever hospital, home for girls and Red House home—are situated at Inveresk, about 11/2 m. up the Esk. About 1 m. south-east is the site of the battle of Pinkie, and 21/2 m. south-east, on the verge of Haddingtonshire, is Carberry Hill, where Mary surrendered to the, lords of the. Congregation in 1567, the spot being still known as. Queen Mary’s Mount. Musselburgh joins with Leith and Portobello (the Leith Burghs) in returning one member to parliament.