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Rodney Street Tunnel

(Heriot Hill Tunnel, Heriothill Tunnel)

A former railway tunnel which now forms part of National Cycle Network Route 75, extending north from the centre of Edinburgh, Rodney Street Tunnel (alternatively known as Heriot Hill or Heriothill Tunnel) connects the eastern section of King George V Park (also known as Scotland Yard) with Beaverbank. This distinctive low-profile tunnel extends to 164m (179 yards) in length and was the work of railway engineers Thomas Grainger (1794 - 1852) and John Miller (1805-83) for the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway. It opened in 1842 despite a vociferous campaign by naturalist Patrick Neill (1776 - 1851), under whose Canonmills home and garden it passed. The tunnel provided access to Canonmills Station (later renamed Scotland Street Station) and, from 1847, onwards to Canal Street Station that once lay next to Waverley Station in the city centre. This link, passing through the Scotland Street Tunnel to the city centre, closed in 1868 owing to the complexities of hauling trains up the significant gradient, and Scotland Street Station became a goods terminus.

Having fallen from use after the railway closed in 1968, the tunnel was partially infilled to support the weight of traffic on the busy Rodney Street, which passes only 30cm above. It was B-listed in 1974. Identified as a useful conduit which could take bicycle traffic away from narrow and dangerous roads, and form part of the National Cycle Network, it was rejuvenated by Sustrans Scotland at a cost of £350,000. This involved clearing the blocked tunnel, which was strengthened with steel reinforced sprayed concrete during 2007. After some delays, the tunnel was re-opened by Edinburgh Council's Transport Convener, Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, in 2009.

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