For me, one of the most charming things about Edinburgh is that a lot of it is made up of little districts that use to be separate villages. Only a short 10-minute walk from the main Princes Street, you’ll find King George V Park. It’s now a peaceful little city park providing access routes to cyclists in the North of the city.
However, up until 1840, this entire area was a rural meadow and loch. The loch was drained in 1842 to make for a railway and goods yard; Scotland Street Station was born. This busy railway line ran all the way up to Edinburgh’s main Waverly Station, right under the city!
What’s magical about this line is that most of the locals have forgotten that it’s there. And, unless you’re looking for it, you’d never know it was there, either. In 1868 they closed the tunnel, but they did use it for other things – it was the city’s biggest air-raid shelter during the Second World War, and it was also used for mushroom growing!
The tunnel’s story has a sad ending that leaves the line somewhat frozen in time. In 1980, the council destroyed the entrance at Waverly Station. However, the enormous entranceway at Scotland Street remains, caged up so that nobody can get in or out. I like to take people down there to give them a lesser-told Edinburgh history lesson.