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Leith's Forgotten Train Stations

At the beginning of the 20th century, Edinburgh was home to around 60 railway stations. Now there are only 12. However, the old station buildings, platforms and lines still remain in a variety of forms. I took some photos of just a few of them, in Leith and the surrounding area. Read on to learn more about them!

Background and context

There were two competing railway companies operating in Edinburgh who both wanted to access Leith and its port. For the majority of their lifetime, these two companies were North British Railway (NBR) and the Caledonian Railway. You can see them both in the map below, with North British as a thick, solid line and Caledonian as dashed.

A map outlining the railways in Edinburgh from 1923

In 1923, North British was incorporated into the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Caledonian became part of London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). Both were nationalised in 1948 and became British Rail. This diagram outlines the changing ownership of the railways in this time period.

A table showing Edinburgh's railway companies from 1830 to 1950

Map and diagram from: Mullay, A.J. (1991) Rail Centres: Edinburgh.

Here is a handy map of all the stations outlined below. North British stations are in red, while Caledonian are blue.

Unless otherwise stated, all images in this article are mine. For further information about an image, click on it!

Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway (North British Railway)

The North British line in the north of the city was originally known as  the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway (later the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway when an extension to Granton was added), and was taken over by NBR in 1862. Passenger services on the North Leith branch ended in 1947, closing the majority of North British's remaining stations in this part of Edinburgh.

Bonnington (1846–1947)

Bonnington was a two-platform station on the Leith branch of the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway. The track now forms part of the Water of Leith Walkway. The station building on Newhaven Road still stands and is now in residential use. The platforms and stairs from road level to platform remain also.

Junction Bridge (1869–1947)

Originally named Junction Road and renamed in 1923, this station had a single platform on the double-track Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway. It was right beside the Water of Leith, west of Great Junction Street. The track now forms part of the Water of Leith Walkway.

Leith Citadel — North Leith (1846–1947)

This was the passenger terminus of the Leith Branch of the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway. Known as North Leith while open to passengers, it was renamed Leith Citadel in 1952. After leaving Junction Bridge, the line went through a tunnel at Coburg Street (of which none remains today) emerging at what is now a kid’s play area at Couper Street (see bottom left image below). The Category B-listed station building is still in use as the Citadel Youth Centre, on the south side of Commercial Street.

Trinity (1842–1925)

Trinity was on the Granton branch of the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway. It was a two platform station with the main station building on the southbound platform. The building still stands as a residential property, and the platforms remain also. The station closed in 1925 when the line closed to passengers, but it remained open for freight until 1986. The line is now a footpath, and Trinity Tunnel is located to the south.

Easter Road Deviation (North British Railway)

The Easter Road Deviation was built in 1868 to replace the rope-operated incline between Scotland Street and Canal Street stations on the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway. This initiated the closure of Canal Street, and the opening of Waverley, where these trains ran from. This route joined up with the Granton branch at Trinity junction, just south of Trinity station above, and with the Leith branch at Warriston junction just north of Powderhall.

 

A single track of the line is still in place from Piershill Junction to Powderhall, but has become overgrown and derelict. The line continued to be used until 2016, transporting waste from Powderhall to a landfill site in East Lothian.

Powderhall (1895–1917)

Powderhall was a station on Broughton Road, and it closed in 1917 due to wartime measures. The station building frontage still exists today, and the large sandstone building beside the station is part of the former Powderhall Waste Transfer Station, which stopped operations in 2016. You can also see the single-track disused line from here.