Jan 152019
Photograph looking across a road towards the three bridges
The view from the shoreline towards the three bridges

Walking Path, West Shore Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QG

From this viewpoint, you get the first glimpses of the three bridges. The Forth Bridge is the first, and oldest, an iconic railway bridge and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of the bridge began in 1882 and when it was opened on 4 March, 1890, it was the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world. It held that record until 1919 when the Quebec Bridge in Canada was completed. The second bridge is the Forth Road Bridge, a suspension bridge that opened in 1964 and, at the time, was the largest suspension bridge in the world outside of the United States. At its peak, the Forth Road Bridge carried 65,000 vehicles per day. On 5 September 2017, all bridge traffic was transferred to the Queensferry Crossing, the third bridge which stands parallel to the Forth Road Bridge. The new bridge is a cable-stayed structure, with three towers each 207 metres (679 ft) high. Including approaches, the overall length of the bridge is 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles). Currently, it is the longest triple tower cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Photograph of the three bridges
The three bridges, built in 3 different centuries: 19th, 20th and 21st. Photo from the John Dickson collection.
Painting by Lesley Skeates titled "View at Silverknowes" looking towards the three bridges
View at Silverknowes by Lesley Skeates
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Jan 152019

Photograph of the entrance gate to Granton Castle along the shore road

Along the shore road is the location of the entrance gate of Granton Castle

West Shore Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QG

This stone structure is the remnant of the original entrance to Granton Castle. Although the building no longer stands, it was one of the oldest developments in the area, built on what used to be a rocky outcrop on a slope, with fine views across the Forth. The castle was already in existence in 1479 and sacked in 1544 when the Earl of Hertford landed nearby with an English Army on their way to burn Edinburgh and Leith.  Rebuilt by 1619, the owner was Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall, an eminent lawyer and politician. In 1740 John Campbell, the 2nd Duke of Argyll, bought Granton Castle from the Hopes of Craighall, and renamed it Royston Castle. He had previously bought the neighbouring estate of Easter Granton in 1739, which he renamed Caroline Park, after his daughter. With Argyll concentrating his efforts on Caroline Park, by 1749 Granton Castle was a ruin. Alas, it stayed that way throughout the 19th and early 20th century when lots of industrial activity developed in the area, contributing to the demise and ultimate destruction of this fine historic building.

Black and white engraving of the old entrance to Caroline Park, with a woman walking past the front gate

The old entrance to Caroline Park. This image is of the gate facing the Forth, visited earlier, but the current gates were modelled on the original entrance

Vintage postcard of Granton Castle along the Firth of Forth shoreline

Granton Castle along the Firth of Forth shoreline, taken from a postcard available at the time

Black and white photograph of Granton Gas Works showing the old Caledonian line passing through the gates of Caroline Park to the West Pier at Granton

Granton Gas Works showing the old Caledonian line passing through the gates of Caroline Park to the West Pier at Granton

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Jan 152019
Photograph of the building that once held the Northern Lighthouse Board
This was the original shoreline, with the building ahead the facilities of the Northern Lighthouse Board

West Harbour Road, EH5 1PN

The Northern Lighthouse Board was created by an Act of Parliament in 1786. From 1802 until 1852, the Board’s main store was in Leith but in 1852 it took a 5-year lease on this site in Granton from the Duke of Buccleuch for £110. The Board relocated its stores and from 1874, the ship Pharos, the lighthouse supply tender, was docked in Granton Harbour. Between 1868-1869, The Board built the red-brick store. The experimental tower was added in 1874. Though the tower was built as a lighthouse, it never served as one. Instead, lighting and optical equipment was tested on this site before it was taken out on the ship to the main lighthouses around Britain. Granton was an ideal site for the stores and in 1907 they were improved and extended, with a railway siding and a travelling crane added. The engineering storage and test facility remained until November 2001, when it moved to a modern site at Oban and ended the Northern Lighthouse Board presence in Granton.

Photograph of Pharoes 1995 on the Forth during the parade of sail
Pharoes 1995 on the Forth during the parade of sail. Photo from the John Dickson collection.
Colorful, abstract artwork titled "Northern Lighthouse Board" by Victor Nobis
Northern Lighthouse Board by Victor Nobis
Pencil illustration titled "Northern Lighthouse Board" by Stephen Paterson
Northern Lighthouse Board by Stephen Paterson
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Jan 152019

Photograph of a street on the north side of Western Pier, where esparto grass was offloaded; the area was known as Esparto Warf

The off-loading of the esparto grass was located not far from here, and known as Esparto Warf, on the very north side of the Western Pier

Chestnut Street, Edinburgh EH5 1FX

A major industry in the Edinburgh area was printing and publishing, and this required paper. One of the raw components used to make it, esparto grass, had to be transported to the UK. Starting in the 1870s, esparto grass was being imported and by the 1950s, about a third of all the esparto grass that came into the country arrived at Granton – 100,000 tons of it. Coming from as far away as southern Spain and northern Africa, the arrival of esparto grass shipments were exciting times for the local children who adored the off-loading of the shipments, as the occasional tortoise hidden in the grass would quickly become a favourite pet.

Black and white photograph of esparto grass being unloading at Granton's Western Pier

Unloading esparto grass at Granton’s Western Pier

Black and white photograph of an esparto grass train at Granton

Esparto grass train at Granton

Black and white photograph of Granton Square with a lorry loaded with esparto grass leaving the Square, 11 April, 1955

Granton Square with a lorry loaded with esparto grass leaving the Square, 11 April, 1955

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Jan 152019

Photograph of the road down Middle Pier with businesses and residential buildings along the left side

Middle Pier, now the location of businesses and further along residential development

Lochinvar Drive, Edinburgh EH5 1HF

In 1937, the harbour consisted of a Middle Pier (this road) protected on the east and west sides by two breakwaters, forming two harbours covering a total of 122 acres. Imports to the harbour were esparto grass, wood pulp and other paper manufacturing materials, motor spirit, asphalt, strawboards, and bog ore, while exports included coal, coke, and coke breeze. The coal came from the nearby Lothian coalfields, although a considerable load came from the Lanarkshire pits. Practically all the coke exported from the nearby Edinburgh Corporation Gas Works was shipped via Granton to Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. This building you can see ahead is the recently refurbished Gunpowder Store. This B-listed building is the sole surviving historic structure on the middle pier at Granton Harbour. The two-storey building, which was built with extra-thick walls to ensure it was safe to store gunpowder there, had a cast-iron hoist to allow it to unload ships docked in the harbour. Inside the warehouse, which was one of four match buildings created for the opening of the pier in 1842, there are the remains of railway tracks used by goods wagons.

Black and white photograph of a coke train coming down from Granton Gas Works via Breakwater Junction to Granton on 4 June, 1958.

Coke train coming down from Granton Gas Works via Breakwater Junction to Granton on 4 June, 1958.

Photograph of the restored Gun Powder building

The Gun Powder building, now restored. Photo from the John Dickson collection.

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Jan 152019

Photograph of Granton Harbour and a pier, showing the original hub of the harbour

The location of the original hub of Granton Harbour

Lochinvar Drive, Edinburgh, EH5 1HF

In 1849, the Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway Company commissioned the famous Victorian engineer Sir Thomas Bouch (1822 – 1880) to design and build a ferry service at Granton. Whatever the tide level, this service would be able to load and unload railway carriages and freight wagons between Granton and Burntisland across in Fife. To accomplish this, a specifically-designed vessel, the Leviathan – the first of its kind in the world – was needed. The ship, built on the Clyde, had two engines, mounted port and starboard over the paddles, so the main deck had maximum stowage for the railway carriage cargo. By October 1879, a new steam powdered passengers ship, the William Muir, was brought into operation. The Leviathan service ended in 1890 when the Forth Railway Bridge opened, but the “Willie Muir” went on for another 47 years and it is estimated she carried over three-quarters of a million passengers. After WWII,  four more ferries were brought into operation, including the Bonnie Prince Charlie which could carry 30 cars and passengers and even had a coffee lounge and cocktail bar.

Black and white photograph of train ferries to load and unload railway carriages

Train ferries accessing the ferry slip

Sepia photograph of the old paddle steamer "William Muir" loading horses at Granton

The old paddle steamer “William Muir” loading horses at Granton

Black and white sketch of Sir Thomas Bouch, who designed the first train ferries

Sir Thomas Bouch (25 February 1822 – 30 October 1880) He introduced the first roll-on roll-off train ferries in the world.

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Jan 152019
Photograph overlooing the west harbour of Granton Harbour
This road is located on the original middle pier. Looking towards Leith, the west harbour is now used for leisure purposes

Lochinvar Drive, Edinburgh EH5 1GT

The idea of building a harbour at Granton is said to have been suggested in 1834 by R.W. Hamilton, the manager of the General Steam Navigation Company. A deep water port, unlike Leith harbour, which was tidal, would allow Edinburgh to import and export goods. The 5th Duke of Buccleuch, who owned land in the area, saw the opportunity to build this new harbour on part of the estate he owned, which included Caroline Park House. Robert Stevenson, the lighthouse engineer and grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, advised on the harbour’s design and it was built using stone from the Granton Sea Quarry. Construction was completed in 1863, although part of the harbour, the Central Pier, was opened much earlier on 28 June 1838, the day of Queen Victoria’s Coronation.

Color photograph of pilot boats on the Forth
Pilot Boats on the Forth
Vintage map of Granton Harbour and the surrounding neighbourhood
The development of Granton Harbour
Sepia photograph of Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch, 7th Duke of Queensberry
Colorful painting of two boats in Granton Harbour by Jenny Haslam
Red, yellow, and turquoise abstract illustration of boats in Granton Harbour by Louise Montgomery
Boats at Granton Harbour by Louise Montgomery
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Jan 152019

Road leading to Granton Harbour Middle Pier

Access to Granton Harbour Middle Pier. A considerable section is now reclaimed land with part of the harbour filled in and developed for commercial and residential purposes

Harbour Road, Edinburgh EH5 1PN

The Edinburgh Leith & Newhaven Railway opened on 31 August 1842 between the New Town and nearby Trinity Crescent. From 1850 to 1890 this was part of the main East Coast railway line to Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen. Most of the passengers who died in the famous Tay Bridge disaster in December 1879 had traveled by this route a few hours previously. The opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890 resulted in the main line trains to the north ceasing to use the route. The Granton branch was then used only for local passenger trains and goods traffic. The passenger trains stopped in 1925, a few years after the tramway systems were introduced. The goods trains ran until 1986. The line was lifted and the embankment beside Lower Granton Road removed in 1991-1992. Part of the route, from Trinity to Canonmills, is now a walkway.

Black and white photograph of trains arriving in Granton Harbour on 2 September 1955

Trains arriving in Granton Harbour (locomotive 68340) 2 September 1955

Black and white photograph of the North British Railway Granton Railway Station

North British Railway Granton Railway Station located on the Middle Pier (closed in 1925)

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Jan 152019

Image of Granton Sqaure today, a non-descript assortment of buildings

Granton Square today

Granton Square, Edinburgh EH5 1HA

The first tramline in the Granton area dates from 1909. This system used a moving steel cable located just below the street, powered by stationary steam engines. The tramcars had no motors of their own – they moved when the driver – or ‘gripperman’ – used vice-like jaws to clamp the car to the moving cable. Granton Square was once a very busy tram terminus, with trams leaving Granton to travel throughout the city. The Edinburgh system was converted to electric operation between 1922 and 1924 and the tram routes were re-organised to give longer through-routes. Many remained largely unchanged until the end of tramway operation, in 1956, and some Lothian buses still follow the old tram routes.

Black and white photograph of Granton Square in 1955, with two trams running down the street

Edinburgh Trams No. 169 & 46 at Granton Square, 26 February, 1955

Black and white photograph of Granton Square with a tram in the foreground and a train and the harbour in the background

Granton Square with locomotive 68340 and harbour in the background

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Jan 152019
Exterior of Madelvic House
Madelvic House, the previous offices of the Madelvic Motor Carriage Company, and later United Wire (now relocated across the road). This building is the base for granton:hub

Granton Avenue Park, Edinburgh EH7 1HS

This Victorian red stone building was the original office of The Madelvic Motor Carriage Company. Founded in 1898 by William Peck, Madelvic was one of the first Scottish motor brands built in the first British purpose-built car factory. After the company was liquidated in 1900, a string of other vehicle manufacturing companies used the factory, including Kingsburgh Motor Company, Stirling’s Motor Carriages LTD, Scottish Motor Works, and the Scottish Motor Engineering Company. By 1912, vehicle production on the site ended and during WWII the factory was used for storing torpedoes. United Wire, a wirecloth manufacturer, moved into Madelvic House in 1925 and has been a part of the community for more than 175 years. Today, United Wire’s factory and offices are across the street from Madelvic House.

Illustration of 'Granton Works', including the factory and offices, from the original Madelvic Motor Company catalogue, printed in 1898
Illustration of ‘Granton Works’, including the factory and offices, from the original Madelvic Motor Company catalogue, printed in 1898
 The Kingsbury motor car. The Peter Stubbs Collection.
A Kingsburgh car built at Granton, 1900-02
© The Peter Stubbs Collection. Reproduced with acknowledgement to Ian Thomson, Managing Director, United Wire, Granton
United Wire offices, showing Madelvic House and factory. The Peter Stubbs Collection.
United Wire offices, showing Madelvic House and factory. © The Peter Stubbs Collection.

 Madelvic Car/United Wire Factory 
by Gina Fierlafijn Reddie
Madelvic Car/United Wire Factory
by Gina Fierlafijn Reddie
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