7pm sharp saw 18 runners and 1 cyclist assemble at Morningside Railway Station for the inaugural Carnethy ‘Train in Vain’ run to be lead by Mike. A unique chance to visit 8 Edinburgh stations, over a distance of 9.6 miles, with some history thrown in as a bonus. The intricate route took us from Morningside, Blackford, Merchiston, Dalry, Murrayfield, Balgreen, Gorgie, Slateford and back to The Waiting Room.
The evening provided a fantastic opportunity to gain some local railway history and have sights of interest pointed out to us. Mike had done his homework! Fortunately there was no test at the end, although I fear Jim might have been bottom of the class as he was intent on sabotaging our powers of concentration by supplying buckfast at every station.
I apologise for the poor quality of my photos but I set my tiny camera to ‘intelligent auto’ and the illumination from Mike’s ‘mother of all’ head torches seemed to confuse it. The camera wasn’t sure if it was night or day, whether to flash or not!
Thank you Mike for a great and informative night out. Next year perhaps Micheal Portillo might like to join us? He would certainly learn something but could he keep up with the pace? Doubtful.
20 odd of us (and Nick on a bike) gathered at Morningside Railway Station last night for a run of just under 10 miles around some of Edinburgh’s abandoned railway stations.
At one time, there were 50 stations within the City boundary (can you believe it?) and over the past weeks I’ve been trotting round most of them (thanks for the company Neil and Peter!) to see what would make a decent (and hopefully interesting) midweek route and settled on the following: Morningside, Blackford Hill, Merchiston, Murrayfield, Pinkhill, Balgreen Halt, Gorgie East and Craiglockhart.
We kept the pace reasonable, in order to get back to The Waiting Room for last food orders, with stops at each station (with some Buckfast thrown in for its warming and reviving properties). Route here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1419583151 or Googlemap with links to stations on old railways site.
About the stations...
Morningside Road Railway Station
It was opened by the Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway (ESSJR) on 1 December 1884 as Morningside Station. After the ESSJR was incorporated into the North British Railway on 1 March 1885, the station was renamed Morningside Road in October 1886. It closed on 10th September 1962, when passenger rail services were withdrawn from the Edinburgh Suburban line as part of the British Railways rationalisation programme known as the Beeching Axe, although the line itself was retained for rail freight use. The route continues to be used for freight services to this day, and occasionally diverted passenger trains also pass through Morningside. The repurposed station building serves as a branch of the Bank of Scotland.
Blackford Hill Railway Station
Was opened on 1 December 1884 and closed on 10th September 1962, when passenger rail services were withdrawn from the Edinburgh Suburban line although the line itself was retained for rail freight use. The route continues to be used for freight services to this day, so freight trains avoid Edinburgh’s main stations of Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket, and occasionally diverted passenger trains also pass along this line. This station was on the inner circle. The inner circle line ran anti-clockwise; the outer circle, beside it, ran clockwise from Waverley station and through the southern suburbs. The next circular stops after here were Newington, Duddingston & Craigmillar, Portobello, Piershill and Abbeyhill. A local advocacy group, the Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG), ran a campaign for the SSJR line to be re-opened to passenger services, and proposes that it should be operated either as a commuter rail service or as a light rail system to form an extension of the Edinburgh Tram Network. Following a petition submitted to the Scottish Parliament in 2007, the proposal was rejected in 2009 by transport planners due to anticipated cost.
Merchiston Railway Station
This station was built by the Caledonian Railway between 1879 and 1883, with the last passenger service on 6th September 1965. The station was demolished shortly afterwards and the track bed has become a footpath. The station was constructed with two platforms and a small overhead footbridge, at the bottom of what was then Bonaly Place (since renamed Harrison Place). Although a small suburban station, it had very long platforms to match the trains stopping here; reaching from Harrison Road to Shandon Place. After closure the first part of the old line from Princes Street Station became the Western Approach Road, built in the 1970s. The part of the track occupying the former station at Merchiston is now a footpath, extending to a service road leading west to Slateford Yards. Merchiston was the only station on the line between the Caledonian Railway’s Princes Street Station (at the West End of Princes Street) and Slateford about two miles to the SW. This line carried trains from Princes Street Station to Glasgow via Shotts, Lanark and Carlisle and the south.
Murrayfield Railway Station
This intermediate station on the Caledonian Railway’s route around West and North Edinburgh (from Slateford Junction to Granton, Newhaven and Leith) was opened by that company on 1 September 1879. It closed to regular passenger traffic on 1 October 1951, and closed for good on 30th April 1962. At the time, it was the nearest station to Murrayfield Rugby Stadium.
Pinkhill Railway Station
Pinkhill served Edinburgh Zoo and was the last stop on the line from Edinburgh Waverley to Corstorphine. The Corstorphine branch (at that time handling the journey to Waverley in just over 11 minutes) closed to passengers at the end of 1967. The platforms at Pinkhill closed January 1968.
Balgreen Halt Railway Station
A halt, in railway parlance, is a small station, usually unstaffed or with very few staff, and with few or no facilities. In some cases, trains stop only on request, when passengers on the platform indicate that they wish to board, or passengers on the train inform the crew that they wish to alight. The station was opened by the London and North Eastern Railway in 1934. The line passed on to the Scottish Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948, to be then closed by the British Railways Board. The stationmaster’s house remains standing, in the site which has been landscaped as part of a garden. Balgreen tram stop is now adjacent to where the railway station stood.
Gorgie East Railway Station
This was named Gorgie Station until 1952, and was opened on 1 December 1884 and served the closed in 1962, when passenger rail services were withdrawn from the Edinburgh Suburban line. There is now no trace of the station but the route continues to be used for freight services to this day.
Craiglockhart Railway Station
It was opened by the Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway (ESSJR) on 1 December 1884. The station closed in 1962, when passenger rail services were withdrawn from the Edinburgh Suburban line although the line itself was retained for rail freight use. Craiglockhart station was built for the North British Railway in 1887. Except for a short period, 1917-19, at the end of World War I, the station remained open to passengers until 1962.