The Peacock Inn

Route Stop #03

Next Stop -#04 Annfield
Overview Penny Weddings Literary Guests
1896 Map of Newhaven

Are your feet wet?  You are now standing in what would once have been the waters of the Forth.  A small sandy beach existed here until the mid-2oth Century, as shown in the map of 1945.  You are looking at what was once Newhaven’s most famous business, known throughout Edinburgh as “The Peacock”.

At one time, in the 18th and early 19th century, this village with a small population boasted (if that’s the correct word!) seventeen pubs, inns and hotels.  Of them all, the building you are now looking at has occupied a special place in the life of Newhaven since 1767.

This was largely due to Newhaven being a popular ferry port for local services to Burntisland, Kirkcaldy and Stirling but also as far afield as London and Lerwick in the Shetlands.  Also, fishermen from numerous east coast ports would land their catch to be sold to the fishwives for resale and then fortify themselves for the return journeys.

5_6035 The roaring fire and the metal peacock wall scuplture immediately told the visitor there was a warm welcome at The Peacock

Newhaveners too, of course, also made their regular contributions to the welfare of the publicans and innkeepers.

Thomas Peacock was a Vintner of Newhaven who petitioned Edinburgh Town Council in 1767 to grant him a Feu of the Links and the houses on them. His petition was successful and The Peacock quickly proved to be a most popular asset to the village.

The building, parts of which are now B listed, was famous throughout Edinburgh for its fish teas. Over the centuries it was known variously as The Peacock Inn, The Peacock Hotel and Ye Olde Peacock Inn. Even today, the locals still refer to it as just ‘The Peacock’.  It’s now an Indian restaurant called Rishi’s

5_6030 Known for a short while as Mrs Clark's Peacock Hotel in the1920s, it was run by a Mrs Main. The fame of Clark's Fish Suppers was well-known throughout Edinburgh. The entrance was at the rear, as seen here.

Centuries before, in 1504, King James IV would ride down from Holyrood to inspect the construction of the Great Michael and would often adjourn to the house of one of his French shipwrights for breakfast, the Frenchman’s wife being known to local fame as a fine cook. King James, therefore, set the seal of royal patronage on the village’s long-standing renown for good fare.

The lure of the freshest of fish brought many to Newhaven’s notable inns, foremost of which is The Peacock.

Very early in its fishing history, Newhaven became the premier port in Scotland for oysters. The Free Fishermen Society of Newhaven states that they fished the oyster beds from 1572 until 1890 when they became scarce through overworking.  During this time great quantities were despatched to London and Holland. The oysters were famed for their size and quality and were popular fare at The Peacock.

For centuries The Peacock Inn stood on the strand with a sandy beach in front. Young bucks would come down to The Peacock from Edinburgh. Fisherlassies would gather on the beach and sing to them to receive coins thrown from the windows in appreciation by the gentlemen by now full of alcohol induced bonhomie.

Gradually land reclamation pushed the sea further and further away.

5_6050 Peacock Inn, post-1980s refurbishment by its new owner, Peter Carnie, was given a new lease of life. Whilst some of its couthieness was now gone, it still boasted the best fresh (not frozen) fish suppers in town.

The entrance to the Inn was from Main Street until in 1979. The owner at that time, Peter Carnie, built a entrance and corridor from the road (Lindsay Road) that was constructed during Newhaven’s redevelopment.  This corridor had an esteemed gallery of Hill and Adamson photographs taken in 1845 made from the original plates. The collection, depicting the Newhaven fishing community, is one of the earliest photographic documentations of people in their natural working conditions.

Following a fire in February 2010, investigations led to the discovery of forgotten stained glass windows from a bygone time. Ageing beams were also unearthed while searches in the attic turned up menus from the 1800s.  Since 2012, the pub/restaurant has changed hands a number of times and the wherabouts of these relics is presently unknown.

5_6036 The Peacock Bow-Tow Photo Gallery. An extensive collection of Hill and Adamson photographs made an impressive entrance into the restaurant.
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