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Scotland Street Tunnel

A long-disused railway tunnel which runs beneath the New Town of Edinburgh, Scotland Street Tunnel was constructed in 1847 by engineers Thomas Grainger (1794 - 1852) and John Miller (1805-83) to serve a line which connected Canal Street Station on Princes Street with Granton Harbour. The tunnel extends to 962m (1052 yards) and has a low semi-circular profile, 7.3m (24 feet) both in width and height. In an attempt to overcome the shape of the land, which rises steeply to St. Andrew Square, the central portion of the tunnel was built at considerable depth, reaching 15m (49 feet) under St. Andrew Street. However, it still has a considerable gradient of 1 in 27, which necessitated a stationary steam engine to haul the trains through the tunnel by wire rope. The tunnel fell from use on 22nd May 1868 when a new railway line to Trinity and Granton Harbour opened and, from 1887, was used by the Scottish Mushroom Company to cultivate their crop.

The former Canal Street Station had its platforms at right-angles to the modern Waverley Station. A sign and grating behind Platform 20 in Waverley are the only indications of the southern entrance to the tunnel, but the northern end is marked by a grand portal in King George V Park. Scotland Street Station once stood in front of this portal, which latterly operated as a goods terminus, accessed through the Rodney Street Tunnel from the north, and then a coal depot. The coal depot closed in 1967 and the track was lifted shortly thereafter.

During the Second World War, the tunnel was converted into a bomb-proof control centre for the railway system. It was replaced by the short-lived Burntisland Emergency Railway Control Centre. In the 1970's part of the tunnel was again used for growing mushrooms and also to store new cars by a motor dealer. In more recent years, the tunnel are lain unused despite various schemes including a car park, power generation and to use it for a light-railway connecting the north of the city with Waverley Station.

Scotland Street Tunnel has been B-listed since 1965.


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