In pictures: Edinburgh’s lost railway stations

Edinburgh once boast more than fifty stations. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh once boast more than fifty stations. Picture: TSPL
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It’s hard to imagine now but Edinburgh was once bound together by more than fifty railway stations in a way that would no longer be possible.

Prior to the the Beeching cuts in the 1960s, there were few districts of the Scottish capital not linked by rail.

The cuts were a consequence of the nationalisation of the UK’s railways by the Labour government in 1948 and meant that lines deemed surplus to requirements were wiped from the network.

In Scotland, the cuts hit particularly hard, one of the most controversial decisions being the closure of the Waverley Route in 1969. The axing of the 98-mile Borders line linking Edinburgh and Carlisle meant the loss of hundreds of jobs and left large towns such as Hawick without a railway station.

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Local services were also targeted. Edinburgh lost the vast majority of its suburban railway network, much of which has since been re-purposed as cycle routes.

Decades earlier, North British and Caledonian, the two rival railway companies, had the Capital sewn up between them. Miles of rail infrastructure once criss-crossed the city and connected its districts in a way that would no longer be possible.

An ordnance survey map of Edinburgh from 1921 shows that there were once 58 railway stations in the city. That number has since been cut down to just 13.

Locales such as Newington, Abbeyhill, Gorgie and Dalry, Corstorphine, Portobello, Granton, etc, all had their own station.

And, in addition to the still-extant Haymarket and Waverley, the city boasted four main terminals. Princes Street Station, originally owned by the Caledonian Railway Company, at the West End and Leith Central, owned by the North British, at the foot of Leith Walk were both axed by the beginning of the 1970s.

READ MORE: Vintage map lifts life on Scotland’s lost railways

Passengers from Princes Street, which was located to the rear of the Caledonian Hotel, could travel all the way to what is now Ocean Terminal at Leith via a line which swung north west towards Murrayfield and Craigleith before darting east through Pilton, Granton and Newhaven on its way to North Leith. Other routes connected to Princes Street included Barnton, Granton Harbour and Juniper Green.

Edinburgh Waverley had two passenger routes to Leith. One to Leith Central via Abbeyhill and Easter Road and another that passed Powderhill and Bonnington on its way to Leith Citadel at Commercial Street. Heading east, passengers could stop off at Haymarket, Dalry, Gorgie or continue south towards Morningside and Newington en route to Duddingston and Portobello.

Former lines and railway bridges can still be seen all over Edinburgh. While many of the old lines are still active, most of the stations on these routes have been closed and will never re-open due to building developments.

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