South Queensferry

From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
South Queensferry
West Lothian
Black Castle Queensferry.jpg
Main Street and the Black Castle
Grid reference: NT129783
Location: 55°59’21"N, 3°23’46"W
Population: 9,370  (2001)
Post town: South Queensferry
Postcode: EH30
Dialling code: 0131
Local Government
Council: Edinburgh
Edinburgh West

South Queensferry also known as just Queensferry or "The Ferry", is a town and Royal Burgh in West Lothian, on the shore of the Firth of Forth between the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. It is known as 'South' Queensferry in order to distinguish it from North Queensferry across the Forth. It has a population of around 12,000.

Ferries still sail from Queensferry, but not that which gave the town its name: the ferry across the Forth ceased 1964 when the Forth Road Bridge was opened. Ferry services continue to run from the harbour to the islands within the Firth of Forth, including Inchcolm.


The name Queensferry is from Saint Margaret of Scotland, who King was Malcolm III's queen; sister to Edgar the Ætheling, heir to the English throne but for the Norman Conquest. Queen Margaret is believed to have established a ferry at this point for pilgrims on their way north to St Andrews. She died in 1093 and made her final journey by ferry to Dunfermline Abbey. Her son, King David I, awarded the ferry rights to the abbey.

Local traditions

The Ferry Fair

A local fair dates from the 12th century. The modern fair, dating from the 1930s, takes place each August and includes the crowning of a local school-girl as the Ferry Fair Queen, a procession of floats, pipe bands, and competitive events such as the Boundary Race. The Fair also has a dedicated radio station, Jubilee1, which in May 2007 was awarded a licence to evolve into a full Public Service Community Station for North and South Queensferry.

The Burry Man

The Burry Man takes a rest supported by his two attendants

A strange annual procession through Queensferry during the Ferry Fair is that of the Burry Man. This unique cultural event is over three hundred years old, but its true origins are unknown. The name "Burry Man" almost certainly derives from the hooked fruits of the Burdock plant - burrs - which serve as the central feature of his dress, although some have suggested that it is a corruption of "Burgh Man", since the town was formerly a royal burgh.

A local man is covered from head-to-toe in sticky burrs which adhere to undergarments covering his entire body, leaving only the shoes, hands and two eye holes exposed. On top of this layer he wears a sash, flowers and a floral hat and he grasps two staves. His ability to bend his arms or sit down is very restricted during the long day and his progress is a slow walk with frequent pauses. Two attendants in ordinary clothes assist him throughout the ordeal, helping him hold the staves, guiding his route, and fortifying him with whisky sipped through a straw, whilst enthusiastic children go from door-to-door collecting money on his behalf. The key landmarks on the tour are the Provost's office and each pub in the village.

The Loony Dook

The name "Loony dook" is a recently instituted event whereby people dive into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth on New Year's Day, often in fancy dress. In the name, "dook" is a Scots term meaning "dip" or "bathe".

In recent years the event has attracted people from all over the world, including many people visiting Edinburgh to celebrate Hogmanay. A proposal to charge people to participate in this event was recently announced, the proceeds of which will benefit RNLI Queensferry.[1]

Brass band

Queensferry has a community brass band that evolved from being a school brass band to a youth band and finally to its present status as a competing adult band. In addition to competing I prestigious competitions, it takes part in many community events including the Ferry Fair.

In addition to this there is a school brass band.

Places of interest

St Mary's Episcopal Church, formerly a Carmelite monastery, dates from the 1450s


St Mary's Episcopal Church, also known as the Priory Church is the town's oldest building, built for the Carmelite Order of friars in the 1450s. It is the only mediæval Carmelite church still in use in the British Isles, and is a category A listed building.[2] After the Reformation of 1560 it served as the parish church until 1635. In 1890 it was reconsecrated for the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Old Parish Church on The Vennel dates from 1633 and has an interesting early graveyard. The church became known as the South Church in 1929, and served the Church of Scotland congregation until 1956, when it united with St Andrew's Church. The old South Church building was sold in 1970 and is now a house.

The building which now houses Queensferry Parish Church, located in The Loan, was originally built as South Queensferry United Free Church. Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929, the UF Church became known as St Andrew's Church and the old Church of Scotland congregation as the South Church. The two congregations were united in 1956, becoming Queensferry Parish Church. The Reverend John Carrie was minister from 1971 until his untimely death in 2008. In 1972 he started an annual sponsored walk across the Forth Road Bridge for Christian Aid, so far raising over £1,000,000. In 2009 the Rev. David Cameron transferred from Newton Mearns to Queensferry Parish Church.

St Margaret's Roman Catholic church is also located on The Loan.

Stately homes

  • Hopetoun House - Two miles to the west, a splendid Georgian stately home designed by the architects Sir William Bruce and William Adam and situated in 150 acres of parkland. Home to the Earls of Hopetoun since 1699.
  • Dalmeny House - Two miles to the east, Dalmeny House was built by the architect William Wilkins in 1817 and is the home of the Earls of Roseberry. It houses the Roseberry and some of the Rothschild collections.
  • Dundas Estate - One mile to the south. A 9-hole golf course has been established in its parkland since 1957.
Jublilee Clock, the town's clock tower, built in 1887.

Other significant buildings

Black Castle is a house on the High Street built in 1626. When the original owner, a sea-captain, was lost at sea, his maid was accused of paying a beggar-woman to cast a spell. Both women were burned for witchcraft. Plewlands House is a 17th-century mansion in the centre of the village. It was restored in the 1950s as flats, and is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland. The Tolbooth, on the High Street, dates from the 17th century, with a clock-tower built in 1720.

The Hawes Inn, dating from the 17th century, lies east of Queensferry, almost under the Forth Bridge on its south side. It features in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped. Opposite the Hawes Inn is the pier which served the car ferry until the opening of the Forth Road Bridge. The pier is now used by tourist boats including the ferry to Inchcolm.

The cemetery on Ferrymuir Lane at the south end of the town is unremarkable other than the very large number of war graves, all for casualties of the Battle of Jutland (1916) who were brought here for burial.

Opened in March 2007 by Dakota Hotels, the striking 'black box' seen from the A90 is an award-winning hotel, Bar & Grill.[3]

Outside links