Nostalgia: Edinburgh’s rail history

Queues at Waverley Station in 1957.

Queues at Waverley Station in 1957.

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RAIL Campaigners are once again pushing plans to re-open Portobello railway station, 50 years after it was first closed.

Work on the Borders Rail project will see the Portobello Junction remodelled to cope with a greater frequency of trains, and it is hoped the work will pave the way to the station once again becoming a hub for commuters.

Workmen use cutting equipment during the demolition of part of  Caledonian railway station (Caley Station) in Edinburgh, March 1970

Workmen use cutting equipment during the demolition of part of Caledonian railway station (Caley Station) in Edinburgh, March 1970

If the plans are successful it would add another chapter to the Capital’s long rail history, with city stations old and new having been a part of life in Edinburgh for decades.

In 1986, Commonwealth Games hostesses Gina MacRae and Linda Cronan were on hand to greet former Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, as he stepped down from a mechanical digger after cutting the first sod at the newly created 
Meadowbank station to be used for a shuttle service during the games.

Waverley station has always been the heart of rail travel in the Capital, and in July 1957 it was busier than usual with thousands queuing for trains due to a nationwide bus strike which lasted for eight days.

Trains often brought the great and the good to Edinburgh, and commuters at the Caledonian railway station would have been thrilled to see comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy arriving in April 1954.

Soldiers from the Black Watch board the train at Mid Calder railway station, leaving for their tour of duty in Northern Ireland in August 1970.

Soldiers from the Black Watch board the train at Mid Calder railway station, leaving for their tour of duty in Northern Ireland in August 1970.

There were emotional scenes at the Mid Calder station in August 1970, when around 350 soldiers from the Black Watch headed out for a second tour of duty in Northern Ireland.

Of course, as Portobello residents will confirm, nothing lasts for ever, and in March 1970 workmen were using cutting equipment during the demolition of part of the 
Caledonian station.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (Laurel and Hardy)  at the Caledonian railway station in Edinburgh 13/4/1954. The actors were on their way to stay at the Caledonian hotel whilst they were appearing at the Empire Theatre

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (Laurel and Hardy) at the Caledonian railway station in Edinburgh 13/4/1954. The actors were on their way to stay at the Caledonian hotel whilst they were appearing at the Empire Theatre

Former Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, steps down from a mechanical digger after cutting the first sod at the new Meadowbank Station to be used for a shuttle service during the Games. Picture taken January.

Former Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, steps down from a mechanical digger after cutting the first sod at the new Meadowbank Station to be used for a shuttle service during the Games. Picture taken January.