Lines lost: Barnton

On 1 August Deveron Arts hosted Lines Lost, an event at the Edinburgh Arts Festival made up of a guided walk and discussion on the relationship between art and walking and the history of the railways in Scotland.

The walk followed the Innocent Railway Path, the route of Edinburgh’s first railway line closed in 1968, and was led by Stuart McAdam, whose Lost Lines project is based around the Beeching railway cuts of the 1960s. A series of performative walks aims to bring into focus the contemporary issues surrounding the Beeching legacy, part of an investigation into slow travel as art practice.

Other speakers on the discussion panel:

  • Nina Coulson – co-founder of the MOVEMENT gallery based on Platform 2, Worcester Foregate Street Railway Station
  • Derek Halden – civil engineer involved in path infrastructure projects connecting people and places, railway projects connecting places to cities and community station projects connecting paths to railways
  • Ellie Harrison – artist and coordinator of the Bring Back British Rail campaign
  • David Spaven – campaigner and transport consultant, co-author of Mapping the railways

All this reminded of nothing so much as Barnton Station, at the top of the road, as we used to say, opened in 1894 and closed in 1951. When we moved to Barnton in 1967 the building was occupied by John Menzies – I can remember going up the stairs with my father to the toy department to buy a treat. At some point in the 1970s the building was pulled down and a concrete box put in its place – Menzies had to move into a portacabin for the duration. It’s also now closed.

© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Next door is the Barnton Hotel, opened in 1895 and closed in 2004 when proposals were made to turn it into flats:

Still waiting…see the Barnton Hotel thread on Derelict Places for inside shots, taken by Monkey Girl in 2008

The station was the terminus of Caledonian Railways’s suburban branch line from Craigleith to Davidson’s Mains and Barnton – various other remnants of the line remain, and there were hopes for re-opening at one point, but the bottom’s rather fallen out of Edinburgh’s light rail project.

Updates: June 2014: just discovered Urban Ghosts Media, which has posts on Morningside Road and Dalry Road stations, plus Craigleith Station. And the Embra tram, such as it is, is now GO! May 2015: the Fife Psychogeographical Collective follows an old line near Dunfermline.


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