For several months now, 40 year-old artist Tom Ewing from Prestonpans has been painting a magnificent mural of the port and town of Leith. Officially launched today by son of Leith, the writer Irvine Welsh, it provides a superb allegorical overview from the entrance wall of the Leith Dockers Club off Academy Street.
The images depicted are instantly recognisable to all Leithers, young and old, featuring a trip down memory lane and showing how Leith used to be and those buildings which remain to this day. Among the guests at today’s event were Leith Dockers Club officials Billy Skivington; Jimmy Dalgleish and Rab Mitchell; singer Dean Owens with his brother Keith and their father George Owens; Tim Bell of Leith Walks; Councillor Deidre Brock, Deputy Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh; Councillor Angela Blacklock, Mark Lazarowicz MP, and Mary Moriarty, former landlady of the Port O’ Leith.
The Leith Dockers Club was established in 1946 in a Leith manor house which had formerly belonged to a wine merchant. The building was later purchased with financial assistance from the Forth Ports Authority and in 2006, the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.
With its comfortable furnished premises, large bar, small lounge, function suites, and a legal heated and covered outdoor smoking area, it continues to provide a haven of retreat for its largely Leith-based core membereship. Among club activities are golf, darts, dominoes and green bowling. In addition, it hosts a programme of charity boxing patches, and dances with live music and performers.
It would be difficult to find another social establishment in the city where those who have emigrated to the other side of the world can return twenty to thirty years later and still encounter a familiar face.
Although only a handful of Leith Dockers remain, those that do still play a critical role in club’s management, with assistance from Docker minded people aware of the club’s historical basis and significance.
All of this is reflected in Tom’s powerful mural, a thought-provoking reminder of the Port of Leith in times past and as such, heralding its ambitions for the future.
Submitted by Roddy Martine