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Edinburgh, St Leonard's Bank Railway Tunnel

Railway Tunnel (19-20th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, St Leonard's Bank Railway Tunnel

Classification Railway Tunnel (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Edinburgh And Dalkeith Railway; Innocent Railway; Formerly Lin 23; Queen's Park Tunnel; St Leonard's Tunnel

Canmore ID 87307

Site Number NT27SE 589

NGR NT 27209 72524

NGR Description NT c. 26894 72659 to NT c. 27366 72457

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/87307

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 589 27209 72524 (NT c. 26894 72659 to NT c. 27366 72457)

Location formerly entered as from NT 2688 7266 to NT 2736 7246.

See also NT27SE 3979, NT27SE 553, NT27SE 2735, NT27SE 4356, NT27SE 4360, NT27SE 4417, NT27SE 4418.

This steeply descending tunnel (1 in 30) took the railway down to the lower land S of Arthur's Seat from St. Leonard's.

J Thomas 1971.

The railway tunnelled through the volcanic outcrop of Arthur's Seat for a couple of hundred yards. The tunnel, now part of a walkway and cycle track, has had electric lighting installed.

K Sanders and D Hodgins 1991.

This gas-lit tunnel, which is still in existence, brought the railway down a steep gradient of 1 in 30 from St. Leonard's to the site of the 'Bonny Wells of Wearie' in Holyrood Park. It was recorded by Francis Whishaw in 1840 that the tunnel measured 572 yards in length, possessed a 20 foot bore and was illuminated by twenty five gas lamps. The eastern entrance of this tunnel lies immediately below the rock formation known as 'Samson's Ribs.' The associated incline is twice the length of the tunnel, being 1160 yards in total, and required, instead of utilising horses, to involve 'two low-pressure (stationary) condensing engines' which had 28inch cylinders. These engines, built by Carmichael of Dundee, caused the cable to be driven round a drum of 11 foot diameter, enabling 30-ton loads to be hauled up at the same time. Allowing five minutes per journey, between one hundred and thirty and one hundred and ninety wagons daily were able to be moved. In order to prevent a breakaway occurring on the incline the trains carried a 'self-acting stopper' device which ensured that they would be immediately derailed.

A J Mullay 1991.

This tunnel and associated incline were built in 1829. The incline was 1160 yards in length and in 1830-31 two 25 HP steam engines were installed at its top end. A survey by Scottish Industrial Heritage on 5 and 6 September 1992 showed that the tunnel had been well constructed using dressed masonry. In recent times the rails have been removed in order to institute a tarmac footpath and cycleway down the middle of the tunnel floor. Due to the fact that the new "Maltings" housing development road is higher than the level of the Incline the floor at the N end of the tunnel has been raised to diminish the gradient.

Horizontally the length of the tunnel is approximately 522.9m. The height from existing ground level to the crown of the arch is 3.17m and 4.06m at the mouths of the W and E ends respectively. The average gradient for the roof of the tunnel is -1:28 as the cown of the arch at the W end is 17.731m higher than the same point at the E end. Throughout the tunnnel are a good number of mason's marks.

G Douglas, A Jervis, M McDonald, N Niblock and W Barr 1993.

The tunnel is visible on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Edinburghshire 1855, sheet 2) and is clearly marked as a tunnel on the 2nd edition of the OS 6-inch map (Edinburghshire sheet iiiSE), on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1989) and on the OS Basic Scale digital map (2000).

Information from RCAHMS (MD) 19 July 2001.

The location assigned to this record defines the approximate centre of the structure. The available map evidence indicates that it extends from NT c. 26894 72659 to NT c. 27366 72457.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 15 May 2006.

Activities

Construction (1827 - 1830)

Built as part of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway, also known as the' Innocent Railway'.

Publication Account (1993)

This tunnel and associated incline were built in 1829. The incline was 1160 yards in length and in 1830-31 two 25 HP steam engines were installed at its top end. A survey by Scottish Industrial Heritage on 5 and 6 September 1992 showed that the tunnel had been well constructed using dressed masonry. In recent times the rails have been removed in order to institute a tarmac footpath and cycleway down the middle of the tunnel floor. Due to the fact that the new "Maltings" housing development road is higher than the level of the Incline the floor at the N end of the tunnel has been raised to diminish the gradient.

Horizontally the length of the tunnel is approximately 522.9m. The height from existing ground level to the crown of the arch is 3.17m and 4.06m at the mouths of the W and E ends respectively. The average gradient for the roof of the tunnel is -1:28 as the cown of the arch at the W end is 17.731m higher than the same point at the E end. Throughout the tunnnel are a good number of mason's marks.

G Douglas, A Jervis, M McDonald, N Niblock and W Barr 1993.

Project (2007)

This project was undertaken to input site information listed in 'Civil engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' by R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Publication Account (2007)

St Leonards Tunnel is believed to be Scotland’s earliest tunnel on a public railway. It was excavated in volcanic rock from headings set out by transit instrument from an observatory at the edge of Holyrood Park above the tunnel. It is lined with Craigleith sandstone, with a semicircular cross-sectional top 20 ft wide, 15 ft high at its crown, and 566 yards long, on a 1 in 30 inclined plane. Trains were hauled up the incline, using a 5 in. circumference rope, by stationary steam engine or a combination of the weight of descending wagons and the engine. Construction took place from 1827–30 and cost about £12 000. Jardine was the engineer and the contractor, Adam Begg. Originally the tunnel was lit by gas and it is now permanently lit by electricity as part of its conservation as a cycle path project planned and executed by Lothian Regional Council in the 1980s and now in constant use.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' with kind permission of Thomas Telford Publishers.

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