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The Waverley Route


The new Borders Railway follows the first part of the old Waverley Route that once ran from Edinburgh to Carlisle, with branch lines into the hills on either side of the border. This gallery showcases images of the Waverley Route and draws on the wealth of material in the National Collection at RCAHMS illustrating and recording railways and related buildings across Scotland.

The Waverley Route was not built as a single project. The North British Railway Company opened the Edinburgh to Hawick Railway in 1849. The Border Union Railway from Hawick to Carlisle followed in 1862. These, together with branch lines added across the Scottish Borders became known as the Waverley Route.

The Waverley Route was closed to all traffic in 1969. Now the northern part of the route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank has been re-built and will be known as the Borders Railway. It will be officially opened on the 9th September by Her Majesty the Queen on the day she becomes Britain's longest serving monarch.

One of our main railway history collections is the archive of photographs taken by Professor John Hume in the 1960s and 1970s, recording Scottish industrial sites, including stations, bridges and engineering works associated with the railways. This collection comprises more than 25,000 images.

We also host the National Collection of Aerial Photography and the Aerofilms collection. Images from these reveal how the railway network evolved from the 1940s before being rationalised in the 1960s, with many routes completely altered. One such example is Galashiels prior to closure of the line.

In addition to the collected material, we also hold the records created by RCAHMS specialist survey staff over the last hundred years. The remains of the railway and buildings on the Waverley Route were surveyed by RCAHMS from the air and on the ground in advance of the rebuilding of the railway and this survey now form a valuable record. All the collections can be consulted in our Search Room or by using our online resources.