A stroll through the ancient town is a must for any historian, who will soon get a feel for Queensferry’s Scottish heritage, which dates back to the 13th century. Meandering along its cobbled streets is a great way to see the coastal town’s many points of interest and soak up its sense of history. The town’s name itself comes from Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore, who reigned as King of Scotland between 1057 and 1093. The Queen often visited Queensferry – using The Binks as a landing point on her way to Edinburgh from the Royal Palace in Dunfermline.
The Tolbooth town hall originated in the 16th century, with its clock tower, which dominates the High Street and ancient burgh, added in 1720 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
Other historic landmarks include Queensferry’s elegant terraces – East, Mid and West – a distinctive group of buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, and Black Castle, the oldest house in the town which was built in the High Street in 1626.
At the foot of The Loan, just off the High Street, there’s a square of buildings known as The Bellstane, which takes its name from the stone where a hand bell was rung to announce the opening of fairs and sales.
The famous 400-year-old Hawes Inn in the east of the town overlooks the Hawes Pier and is where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed in 1886 – inspiring him to write the classic tale ‘Kidnapped’. The year 2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the publication, which tells the tale of David Balfour’s kidnapping and adventure on the high seas as he is smuggled around the coast of Scotland. In the book, Balfour survives a ship-wreck off the isle of Mull and makes his way back overland with Alan Breck-Stewart to Queensferry and on to Edinburgh to claim his rightful fortune.
A group of fundraisers embarked on the Big Sail Walk in 2016 to recreate Balfour’s journey from Queensferry – travelling around Orkney, down the Minch to the island off Erraid, just off Mull, before making their return journey 270 miles on foot – to commemorate the literary work and in the name of Parkinsons UK.
Since its publication, the book has inspired The Stevenson Way, a wilderness walk from Mull to Edinburgh and the Hawes Inn also features in Sir Walter Scott’s The Antiquary.
More history of Queensferry at war can be read here.
53 High Street, South Queensferry