US navy chief and MTV inspire road names in Leith

Beyonce at the MTV Europe awards held in Leith. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Beyonce at the MTV Europe awards held in Leith. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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HE was the Scots-born US naval commander who launched a brazen attack on the Capital during America’s War of Independence – now residents want to name a street after him.

John Paul Jones has been suggested by locals as a name for one of the streets created as part of a new development replacing the notorious Fort House estate in Leith.

John Paul Jones, the Scot who founded the US navy. Picture: Getty

John Paul Jones, the Scot who founded the US navy. Picture: Getty

The sailor – who was considered a pirate by the British government – very nearly succeeded in invading Edinburgh in August 1779, with the defenceless city saved only when an incoming gale forced Jones’ flotilla of three ships to turn back out to sea.

City leaders were so distressed they erected a nine-cannon coastal battery and, eventually, the foundations of what became the Fort of Leith.

Jones is among a range of possible names which could grace the streets, squares and avenues of a new housing development on the site of Fort House, which was blighted by drug use and antisocial behaviour before its demolition in 2012.

Musical Street – in recognition of Leith’s successful hosting of the 2003 MTV Europe Awards – will also be considered, while the name of Edinburgh-born ice hockey player Anthony Hand could be used in future.

It’s nice to see interesting and quirky street names and not just stuffy ones


Community leaders have welcomed the suggestions – which were submitted during a public consultation early last year – and said it was positive that residents were engaging with urban revamp efforts.

Allan Mackie, secretary at Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council, said: “What’s in a name? I would say we’re pretty agnostic about these suggestions.

“It’s nice to see interesting and quirky street names, and not just stuffy ones. And as far as for names like John Paul Jones, you already have Cromwell Street, and he wasn’t very good to Edinburgh.

“I can’t see any of the suggestions so far giving great offence. They’re unusual and different, and I don’t think this is something that would greatly concern us.

“It’s right that people here have that kind of involvement in their environment – [it will] help improve the sense of community, the sense of ownership and promote a new beginning for the area.”

A formal planning application for the Fort House site has still to be submitted, with city chiefs stressing they would wait until this is received before selecting which street names to use.

A spokeswoman said: “We have received some suggestions for names and where appropriate they have been added to the street naming bank for the area.

“When the developer submits a formal application, a final decision will be taken by councillors in the area on street names. Any suitable suggestions not used will be kept in the street naming bank.”