If there’s one question that is guaranteed to annoy your Edinburgh tour guide to no end, it’s the question, “What time does the 1 O’clock Gun Go Off?” It might seem like an obvious answer, but if the Edinburgh Tour Guides have a pound for every time they’ve heard this question, they may just be millionaires. We share with you the history of the Edinburgh gun to help you plan ahead for your Edinburgh City Breaks.
So, why does the gun go off at 1pm?
Funnily enough, 1pm on the dot! The gun fires every day apart from Sundays. Now, an accurate way for Edinburgh citizens to check their watches and phones are running to time, the gun hasn’t always been used for punctual time keeping.
The original purpose of the gun, back in 1861 was to allow ships sailing the Firth of Forth to check and adjust their chronometers, long before the convenience of iPhone syncing. In fact, just behind Parliament House Hotel, on Calton Hill, a time ball was implemented at Nelson Tower by Captain Wauchope of the Royal Navy in 1861, which would drop to help those at Leith Harbour ascertain the time.
It was found on foggy days it was near impossible for the ball to be seen, so the Astronomer Royal, Charles Piazza Smyth invented a device to trigger the gun at Edinburgh Castle when the ball dropped via a 4000ft long steel cable.
There were a few teething issues to get the gun into place, however, after three attempts the gun fired. A similar system was implemented in Glasgow, Greenock and Newcastle however Edinburgh’s gun is the only survivor of the times.
Edinburgh City Breaks with Parliament House Hotel
Despite its original purpose, the Edinburgh Gun has become a popular tourist attraction in Edinburgh. If you’re thinking of visiting our Scottish capital, why not book our Discover Edinburgh package and find out all there is to know about “Auld Reekie.” Book today and don’t miss out with our brilliant Edinburgh city breaks today!Book Now