Edinburgh Railways in the 1950s

Ten Railway Cleaners


Ten Railway Cleaners and three buckets  -  Where was this photograph taken?

Ten railway cleaners and three buckets  - This photograph was probably taken in the 1950s

  Reproduced by courtesy of Archie Foley


Ten Railway Cleaners

Where was this photograph of railway cleaners with their three buckets taken?  It was presumably taken in the Edinburgh area in the 1950s, as were all the other photos from the same source that have been identified.

If you know the location, please email me


Thank you to Sandy Maclean for providing the following answer:




Sandy Maclean

Thank you to Archie Cairns who wrote:


    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"This photograph was taken at the west end of the Craigentinny Carriage Sidings.   Behind the staff at the platform was one of the then fairly new Edinburgh and Glasgow Inter-City diesel multiple unit sets, and on the right are a main line locomotive and the yard pilot just behind the water tank.

The shed at the rear was known locally as the "Black Shed", although the origin is rather obscure and it was the first such cleaning shed in Edinburgh for railway carriages, although carriages were cleaned elsewhere at open platforms or in stations."

Sandy Maclean, January 19+28, 2009




Archie Cairns

Archie Cairns has come up with a different answer as to where this photo might have been taken.

Archie wrote:


    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"I think these railway maintenance sheds were over at Roseburn/Murrayfield.

I used to work at a Ross' sweetie factory, back in the 1960s.  We used to have access to the railway canteen.  I'm sure I have seen similar photos of those sheds without the girls.

The only other place I can think of where there was a coach cleaning depot was down near Portobello. *

Archie Cairns:  November 26, 2012


Can you tell me why you think this photo was taken at  Roseburn/ Murrayfield, rather than at Portobello/Craigentinny. 

In recollections 1 above,  Sandy Maclean gives quite a bit of evidence in favour of it having been taken at Craigentinny.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  November 26, 2012




Archie Cairns

Thank you to Archie Cairns who replied:

Maintenance Sheds

    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"I might have got the location wrong since all these sheds look alike.  This photo simply triggered the story of the, railway canteen and maintenance sheds at Roseburn.

I've no wish to contradict the original author who I am sure has researched the subject.  I am simply drawing from memory, and its pretty old and grey now.*

Archie Cairns:  November 26, 2012




Gus Coutts

Duddingston, Edinburgh

Thank you to Gus Coutts who replied:

Not Craigentinny?

    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"I have my doubts that this photo was taken at Craigentinny Carriage Sidings.

As boy, in the early-1950s, I was a keen train spotter and spent many hours on the overbridge at the west end of Fishwives Causeway.

If you look at the signals on the right of the photo they would be on the Main Line so unless the photo has been reversed it can't be The West End of the sidings. 

As I recall, all the sidings were dead ends with no exit to The Main Line at The East End.

I cannot remember a Water Tower at The West End nor do I remember there being a Yard Pilot locomotive.

If the photo was taken at Craigentinny and is unreversed it must have been taken from well within the yard looking west, but unless the yard was considerably reconfigured subsequent to the end of my spotting days, which preceded the introduction of DMU's by several years, I think that is unlikely*

Archie Cairns, Duddingston, Edinburgh:  November 26, 2012




Alan Grieve

Minehead, Somerset, England

Thank you to Alan Grieve who added:

This Photo may well be Craigentinny Depot

    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"From my recollections of Portobello West Signal Box, I feel sure there was a connection to Craigentinny Carriage Sidings at the East End. The 1957 diagram of the West box shows a down loop line commencing just to the west of the signal box which also led into a locomotive siding.

More Photos on the Railscot Web Site

As regards the comments about the signal shown in the photo, have a look at the eighth photo on this page of photos of Craigentinny Depot on the Railscot web site. 

The signal shown in the photograph on your site could well be the one above the first coach of the train leaving the sidings and the building could be that seen on the extreme right of the photograph. There are a number of other pics of this signal and the building on the right in the later pages of the Railscot site.*

Alan Grieve, Minehead, Somerset, England:  December 1, 2012




Patrick Lindsay

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Thank you to Patrick Lindsay for posting a message in the EdinPhoto guestbook, and identifying this photo as having been taken at Craigentinny Coaching Stock Maintenance Depot.

Patrick wrote:

Photos in Books


    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

Book 1

"If anyone has a copy of AJ Mullay's excellent little book 'Rail Centres - Edinburgh', go to page 99 and the pic of Craigentinny CSMD shows almost the same view looking in the opposite direction (towards the East coast and claimed as taken in 1958).

There are many features that exactly match.  Also, bear in mind that the carriage sidings were gradually changed into the 1960s and beyond, so not all the poles and lamps will necessarily match in both pics.  The East Coast Main Line (ECML) lines are the two to the far left."

Book 2

"You can also see a more familiar view taken from the footbridge over the railway between Portobello Road and Mountcastle Estate in 1964  on p44 of another excellent book - 'An Illustrated History of Edinburgh's Railways' by Smith and Anderson."

Patrick LIndsay, Perth, Western Australia, Australia:
Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook: December 17, 2012




Gus Coutts

Duddingston, Edinburgh

Gus Coutts said, in his 'Reply 4, above, that he thought this photo might not have been taken at Craigentinny:

However Gus has now written again.

Thank you to Gus who wrote:


"I have both books referred to by Patrick Lindsay in his 'Reply 6' above.

Looking at the photos therein I can confirm that he is correct.  It is Craigentinny."

Gus Coutts, Duddingston, Edinburgh:  December 23, 2012




Alan Grieve

Minehead, Somerset, England

Thank you to Alan Grieve who wrote again.

Allan added:

Craigentinny Carriage Sidings

"As well as the photograph on Page 99 of A J Mullay's book, 'Rail Centres - Edinburgh', which proves that this original photograph was taken at  Craigentinny Carriage Sidings,

    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

there is on the next page a layout diagram of Craigentinny.

Although this is dates 1987 it does show two track access from the East end, which matches the two tracks that left the down main line on my Portobello West Signal Box diagram."

Alan Grieve, Minehead, Somerset, England:  December 24, 2012




Warren Johnston


Thank you to Warren Johnston who wrote:

Craigentinny Depot

Maps and Photos

"This image of 14 cleaners was almost certainly taken at Craigentinny Depot.

The Cleaners

I titled this picture '10 Railway Cleaners and 3 Buckets', but after reading the sentence above, I've looked at it again. 

I see cleaners 11 and 12 near the end of the platform, beside the DMU.  I've not yet found cleaners 13 and 14.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  August 27, 2014

The depot layout was agreed in 1910 and the depot and shed were completed in 1911 at a cost of 4000. The shed had a Vacuum pump and was one of the first of its kind in the UK.

-  If you look at the 1912 area map of Portobello, the shed is shown at the west end of the depot.  Interestingly, this map also shows a 'New Hibernians' football ground!! I bet that would be contested by many!!

-  If you look at this picture (38694) on of Craigentinny Depot on the RailScot website, you can see the distinctive stepped retaining wall for Fishwives' Causeway and the water tower. The shed is just out of shot to the right.  Compare this with the picture of the cleaners, taken from the other direction and it's a perfect match.

Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

The Shed

"The shed disappeared some time in the 1960s when new cleaning sheds were built further down the yard, and the area where this shed was became the headshunt for the rest of the yard.   This was probably around the time Mountcastle Crescent was laid out, and the diesel fuel point was put in.

Further Information and Photos

I have been tasked with collating the depot history for East Coast and would appreciate any history or photos you have that would help me.

Warren Johnston, Systems Engineer 125, 'East Coast', Edinburgh:  August 26, 2014

Reply to Warren?

If you know of any information or photos that you'd like to tell Warren about, in response to his request above, please email me to let me know.  Then I'll pass on his email address to you.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  August 27, 2014




Les Braby


Thank you to Les Braby who wrote:


"I'm not going to disagree with the answers that have been supplied as there was a large marshalling and maintenance yard at Craigentinny, where the main East Coast line went through."

St Margaret's

"There was, however, a large cleaning facility called St Margaret's at Meadowbank where they used to clean out and maintain the steam engines.  It was located where the new government offices are now and behind the the Jock's Lodge Pub.

You may recall that prior to the Meadowbank Stadium being built for the Commonwealth Games in 1970, there was the Speedway Track there where the The Edinburgh Monarchs were based.  When you walked up the left hand side of the road past the speedway towards Jock's Lodge you could look over the wall and down onto the railway yard

 My Brother, Adam, worked for there for a couple of years from 1954 after doing his National Service for two years(1952-54).  It was a really dirty job and he used to come home filthy after his shifts.  I can't remember when the cleaning facility closed, but the main line still runs through there.  I hope this helps and is not a 'red herring'."

Les Braby, Borders, Scotland:  September 7, 2014

Hi Les:


I found your message about the railway at St Margaret's to be interesting.

However, there seems to me to be no doubt, from the evidence provided by Warren Johnston in his recollections 9 above that the photo of the railway cleaners was taken at Craigentinny Depot.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 28, 2014





Thank you to 'Glenip' who wrote, telling me

My Grandfather

    Ten railway cleaners  -  Photograph probably taken in the 1950s

"The man in this photo is my grandfather John Oliver Patterson ('Johnnie P') he was a railway inspector and worked at Craigentinny"

'Glenip', August 3, 2015


The Photographer

This appears to be the photographer and railway worker who took many railway photographs in the 1950s.  Who is he?               The Railway Snapper who took Railway Photos in and around Edinburgh in the 1950s and 1960s.  Who was he?

The Photographer

Here are two photos of the man who is thought to have taken the photo at the top of this page and other railway photos in and around Edinburgh in the 1950s and 1960s.

 Archie Foley, Joppa, believes that he was a railway worker when he took these photos.  If you recognise him, please email me to let me know.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh



Where and When?      More photos



Edinburgh Railway Lines and Stations