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Gilmerton, Edinburghshire

Historical Description

GILMERTON, for a time a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Liberton, county of Edinburgh; containing 942 inhabitants, of whom 548 are in the village of Gilmerton, 4 miles (S. E. by S.) from Edinburgh. This district comprises about 1100 acres of land, the whole in tillage or pasture, with the exception of some small plantations around the seats of the principal heritors. It contains several coal-mines, of which those of Gilmerton, Drum, and Somerside, are the principal: the Gilmerton mine ceased to be wrought in 1838, but was subsequently brought again into operation. Iron-ore is known to exist in considerable quantity, some of it of the best black-band kind; and the lime-works here are perhaps among the oldest in the kingdom. In 1843 Sir David Baird, Bart., the proprietor, erected a steam-engine to take the water off the lime rock, and to draw the stone to the surface on an inclined plane: also, a draw-kiln was built for burning the limestone. Drum House, a fine mansion, was erected in 1698 by Lord James Somerville, but has since passed through the hands of various families: Gilmerton House, the property of Sir David Baird, Bart., is also an ancient structure; and an elegant residence in the Elizabethan style has lately been built at Fernieside. The village is situated on the road from Edinburgh to Carlisle, and colliers and carters form a large part of its population. In the district are the two smaller villages of Edgehead and Todhills. Ecclesiastically the place is within the bounds of the presbytery of Edinburgh, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; it is now a preaching-station, and the stipend of the preacher is £80 per annum, which is raised by subscriptions, and collections in the parish church of Liberton. Gilmerton church, opened for divine service in April 1837, is a neat structure seated for 300 persons, built at a cost of about £600, by subscription aided by a grant from the General Assembly. The members of the Free Church also have a place of worship. There is a school, the teacher of which has a salary contributed by Sir David Baird and others, and a house and garden. To the teacher of another school David Anderson, Esq., of Moredun, pays a salary of £10; and a sewing-school is supported by the Misses Anderson. A small library was founded by the late Rev. James Grant, minister of Liberton. The poor in the village and district, amongst whom are a great number consisting of the residue of the operatives of the late extensive coal and lime works, have their sufferings much alleviated by the kind liberality of Mr. Anderson and his family, who, besides their donations to the schools, and other private charities, distribute oatmeal and coal to the amount of upwards of £50 annually. Gilmerton Cave, or, as it is usually termed, "the Cove", is a curious and extensive subterraneous passage, consisting of several apartments, dug out of the solid rock, with forms and tables, similarly wrought, for the convenience of visiters. It was the result of five years' hard labour of an eccentric individual, a blacksmith, named Paterson, by whom it was completed in 1724; and it has since continued to attract the attention of all strangers. In the cave is also a well.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis