Rail memorabilia decorates A-listed pub at Waverley entrance

The Booking Office's Scott Thorne with the crest. Picture: Jon Savage
The Booking Office's Scott Thorne with the crest. Picture: Jon Savage
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IT’S a relic from a bygone era when steam engines chugged through the Capital and railways ruled the land.

Now the A-listed former station booking office on Waverley Bridge is set to become home to the Capital’s newest Wetherspoons – due to open next Tuesday.

The Booking Office's impressive mosaic. Picture: Jon Savage

The Booking Office's impressive mosaic. Picture: Jon Savage

The company has spent around £1.9 million transforming the distinctive site, which previously housed Jimmy Chung’s Chinese buffet restaurant.

And a mosaic based on the original North British Railway Company (NBR) logo on the floor of the pub – to be named The Booking Office – is just one of a number of touches that will pay tribute to the building’s former use.

NBR built the first North Bridge station in 1846 – decades after the polluted Nor Loch was drained to make way for Edinburgh’s ongoing expansion.

The 1840s were a time of “railway mania”, however, and two rival companies quickly swooped in and opened their own stations nearby.

From 1854, all three stations became known collectively as “Waverley” – after Sir Walter Scott’s celebrated novel – and, by the middle of the next decade, NBR had absorbed its rivals and built a brand new transport hub. The firm was to rebuild Waverley again in the 1890s – and now all that is left of the old North British railway station is the much-remodelled booking office.

The historic building was put to use as a parcels office until the 1980s, and Wetherspoons bosses hope their pub will give the protected structure a new lease of life.

Manager Scott Horne said: “Myself and my team are looking forward to welcoming customers into the pub and we are confident that it will be a great addition to the Edinburgh community.”

The new-look bar will open from 6am to midnight, Sunday to Thursday, and from 6am to 1am on Friday and Saturday, with food served throughout the day. Children will be welcome until 8pm. Beer gardens to the left and right of the entrance, meanwhile, will offer impressive views of Edinburgh Castle.

As well as the mosaic, a range of old photos and assorted bric-a-brac will hark back to the building’s historic past, while a large roof light – similar to the original as seen in old pictures – has also been reinstated.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com