Station Name: GRANTON GAS WORKS

[Source: Nick Catford]


Date opened: 27.2.1903
Location: East side of Waterfront Broadway adjacent to Morrison's petrol station
Company on opening: Edinburgh & Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners
Date closed to passengers: 1942
Date closed completely: 1942
Company on closing: London Midland & Scottish Railway
Present state: The Grade B listed station building remains in good condition after restoration and now forms part of Edinburgh's waterfront regeneration. The truncated platform is extant.
County: Midlothian
OS Grid Ref: NT226768
Date of visit: 17.3.2012

Notes: By the 1890s, the Edinburgh Gas Works (New Street), Leith Gas Works (Baltic Street) and Portobello Gas Works (Pipe Street, Portobello) were operating at full capacity. The New Street and Portobello sites were hemmed in by other buildings and could not be expanded. At Leith it might have been possible to expand onto an adjacent site, but it was wisely concluded that a new works on a much larger site would permit future growth.

Large quantities of coal were required for the production of gas and, in the days before efficient road transport, good rail access was essential. (By 1926 Granton Gas Works was consuming 200,000 tonnes of coal a year.) The existing Edinburgh and Leith works both had rail access, but only from the NBR and its rival, the Caledonian Railway. In addition, it was close
to the sea so that supplies could be brought by boat to Granton Harbour in the event of strikes on the railway. The Edinburgh & Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners thought of building their own small harbour at Granton, but this did not go ahead.

Following negotiation with the 6th Duke of Buccleuch, a 106¼ acre site at Granton was purchased for £124,000. Granton Gasworks was designed by Chief Engineer and Manager, Walter Ralph Herring. Production of coal gas started on 21 October 1902, although the works did not actually open until 27 February 1903. Until 1900 the site was in neither Edinburgh nor Leith, but in that year expansion of the city boundary brought it into Edinburgh. In 1920 Edinburgh and Leith amalgamated, and the gas undertaking passed to Edinburgh Corporation.

The main entrance was on West Granton Road, where offices were also constructed. To the north were buildings containing the coal store and, adjacent to that, the retort house where the actual gas production took place. To the east of the retort, from 1903 a private railway station was provided for workers. The service was run by the Caledonian Railway for the Edinburgh & Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners. The station building also contained the time office - where the workers were required to pass into and out of the works through turnstiles - as well as lavatories, bathrooms, and lockers for the men to store their outdoor clothing. From the upper floor a footbridge over the railway lines led to the works itself. In the early days workers were able to travel free of charge from Princes Street. Although passenger use of the station was restricted, and it was not included in public timetables, it was nevertheless shown as an open station on One-inch Ordnance Survey maps, as seen on the extract below.

The station building is a plain Edwardian classical design, but with a red brick Baroque pediment and contrasting yellow brick and sandstone ashlar dressings. It has bays divided on all sides by giant yellow brick pilasters with fluted ashlar capitals, and slightly projecting red brick pedestals with ashlar coping; a red brick entablature is provided above with an ashlar architrave and eaves cornice. Yellow brick basket arches frame the ground floor windows, and there are stone sills throughout. The interior contains a
wide flight of stone steps leading down to the ground floor from a slightly higher entrance. A narrower curved stone staircase adjoins to the north of the main entrance; this was the route taken by workers at the gasworks after leaving the train. The Gas Works had a network of standard gauge lines, connected to the main line network just north of the bridge which carried West Granton Road over the railway. The main line was part of the Caledonian Railway’s Granton Branch. Coal deliveries could therefore be taken into the works conveniently, and coke and other products sent away.

In addition to the standard gauge lines, the works also had an internal system of narrow (2ft gauge) lines used by steam locomotives. The narrow gauge railway dealt with the ashes from the production process and with other waste and by-products. The locomotives were low in height and had no cabs, and were therefore able to pass under the gas retorts. This network closed in 1965.
Manufacture of gas at Granton came to an end in 1987. The gasholders continued in use for storage for a few more years: Gasholder No. 1, although the oldest, remained in use longest – until 2001.

As part of the major redevelopment of the Edinburgh waterfront the station building was chosen to remain standing as a reminder of the area’s industrial heritage and as a physical representation of the historic link between the city centre and the local area. The Category B listed building still displays the corporate seals, and the clock has been restored. Various other uses for the building are currently being considered. Two of the gasometers, built in the 1930s and 1970s, have been demolished. The third and oldest structure remains and is also listed as an example of Victorian industrial architecture.

Route map drawn by Alan Young tickets from Michael Stewart

Source: Our Transport Heritage web site, Granton History web site, EdinPhoto web site.


Granton Gas Works station during construction in 1902.


1945 1:2,500 OS map. The station building, platform and footbridge are clearly visible in the centre of the map.

Granton Gas Works station on the opening day in 1903. 821 entered service in July 1899 after being built at the Caledonian Railway Works at St Rollox. Designed by McIntosh, it passed to the LMS in 1923 and was renumbered 17559 until transferring to British Railways in 1948, when it was renumbered to 57559. Finally withdrawn from Dalry Road shed in October 1961, it was cut up at BR's Inverurie Works in April 1962. In front of the chimney is a Caledonian speciality, a route indicator of two pivoted arms painted white. One of these fine looking locos, preserved 828 (BR 57566) is normally found on the Strathspey Railway, Aviemore.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking north towards Granton Gas Works station in 1934 from the Granton Road bridge. The line to Granton harbour is seen on the right.
Photo from John Mann collection

Granton Gas Works station looking north in 1955. The station was closed by this date.


Granton Gas Works station looking north in 1960s.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking north from the footbridge at Granton Gas Works station in 1960s.

Granton Gasworks No 10 outside her engine shed awaiting removal to the Strathspey Railway in 1973. The locomotive was later used by the Lochty Private Railway and in now at KFRPS Methil.
P
hoto by Bill Roberton

The station building at Granton Gas Works in August 2006. The door to the footbridge was where the arched window is seen below the clock.
Photo by John Furnevel from Railscot web site

Granton Gas Works station in March 2012.
P
hoto by Michael Stewart

Mid 2000s aerial view showing Granton Gas Works station.



Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source: Nick Catford]




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