Old Chain Pier

Photograph from Edinburgh Calotype Album  -  Volume 2, Page 95  -  Chain Pier


Please also click here to read Recollections of the Old Chain Pier



Old Chain Pier Bar


Early History    from 1821
2. Old Chain Pier Bar   from 1940s


Fire and Restoration   from 2004


Closed Again   from 2011


To Open Again   from 2012



Early History


The Old Chain Pier, between Granton and Newhaven harbours was formerly known as Newhaven Chain Pier.  It was used by steamers giving pleasure trips in the Firth of Forth, but was destroyed in a storm in the 19th century.

The pier with its three spans extended 700 ft into the Firth of Forth.  It was built in 1821 and was used by steamers giving pleasure trips in the Firth of Forth.


After the steamers had stopped using the pier, it became a centre for sea bathing.  Some railway advertisements referred to early morning trains to Trinity for sea bathing. 

Swimming competitions were held from the pier and the building at the end was used a s a gymnasium  [Gutrhrie Hutton: 'Old Leith' published by Richard Stenlake]]


The pier was badly damaged in a storm that lasted for four days, beginning on 15 October 1898.  When the storm abated only the central support, bathing station at the end of the pier and the booking office were left standing.

Damage was estimated at 500.  The pier was never rebuilt.

Old Chain Bar

The Old Chain Pier booking office is still standing.  It is now the 'Old Chain Pier' bar, situated in Trinity Crescent, overlooking the Firth of Forth.  It has a restaurant conservatory attached  -  but see below!

Acknowledgement:  Thank you to Gutrhrie Hutton for comments on the swimming competitions and the storm that damaged the pier.  These comments are taken from his book 'Old Leith' published by Richard Stenlake, 1995.



Old Chain Pier Bar

The Pub

Postcard  -  Looking along Starbank Road towards Trinity Crescent

The original Booking Office, built in 1821, was converted into a pub after the Second World War.  The building is immediately behind the large telegraph pole in the postcard above.  The Firth of Forth is just over the wall on the right of the picture

The Evening News reports that the pub

"... gained notoriety due to the eccentric behaviour of former publican, Betty Moss, who wore bamboo framed spectacles and reputedly called time by firing a starting pistol and brandishing a sword. 

She festooned the pub with mementoes, including shrunken heads, and it became one of the most atmospheric in Scotland."

Edinburgh Evening News, 29 April 2004, p.5

More recently, a conservatory has been added to the pub.  Both the original building and the conservatory overlook the Firth of Forth.



Fire and Restoration

 Fire - 2004

     The Old Chain Pier with its roof removed following a fire  - wide angle view from the west, June 2004

I was shocked to discover that the Old Chain Pier Bar was gutted by fire yesterday morning.  The fire is believed to have been started by an electrical fault.

The roof of the old building (the original ticket office, built for the pier in 1821) has been destroyed and the inside of the building has been blackened with the loss of many old pictures.

The new conservatory beside the pub has survived, but it is not clear yet what will be the fate of the original building.

Restoration - 2004

     The Old Chain Pier with new roof following a fire  - view from the east, July 2004

Work began on restoration of the Old Chain Pier bar during summer 2004.  The photograph above was taken on 9 July 2004.  The pier, with a new roof and newly refurbished interior re-opened in mid-November 2004.


Closed Again

September 2011

I was surprised to receive a message from Edith Johnston, Edinburgh, on September 8, 2011, telling me that the Old Chain Pier had closed again.

After reading Edith's message, I drove past the Old Chain Pier again on September 9 and it looked a sorry site.  All the windows in the pub and its conservatory had been boarded up, and there was a sign on the door advertising for a new Manager to run the pub.

Peter Stubbs:  September 14, 2011


To Open Again

May 2012

I'm pleased to say that The Old Chain Pier appears to have found a new owner.  I've seen activity both outside and inside the building over the past month.  It now has a new coat of paint and smart signs and appears to be being refurbished inside, so we may see it open again soon.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  May 1 2012


May 2012

I visited the Old Chain Pier today to see how the refurbishment was progressing, and was told that they hope to re-open next Monday, 7 May Wednesday or Thursday 9 or 10 May, 2012

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  May 3 2012


Old Chain Pier