The station’s platform and entrance were ‘elaborately decorated’ with coloured cloths and tartan patterns – despite the service being temporary and rarely ever used
A private railway that was thought to allow Queen Victoria to bypass dilapidated slums in Edinburgh can still be seen today – but it’s a far cry from it’s former glory.
Thousands of passers by will know nothing of the once tastefully decorated platform, as all that remains of it are grey slabs of stone. Known as the Queen’s Station, the secret railway hub in Meadowbank, Edinburgh, was built in 1850 and ran for more than 30 years before the Queen opted for another route for her royal visits in 1881.
The old station was located near the old St Margaret’s Railway Depot at what is now Meadowbank Terrace – a conveniently short carriage ride from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is thought that the railway was built to allow Queen Victoria to skip the slums of Canongate and Holyrood. Without the private tunnel, she would have to had venture through the slums before arriving at North British Railway Station in the city centre – now named Edinburgh Waverley.
The station boasted a platform and entrance that were elaborately decorated, despite the service being temporary and rarely ever used. Its opulence was cited in a newspaper report of Her Majesty and Prince Albert’s visit to Edinburgh in September 1850. The Brechin Advertiser reported: “The preparations for the reception of Her Majesty were of a tasteful description. The landing platform is about ninety-seven feet in length and ten feet broad and was covered with crimson cloth.
“Immediately in the centre is the vestibule leading to the spacious flight of steps by which Her Majesty was conducted to the royal carriage in waiting on the Abbeyhill Road, close by Parsonsgreen. The vestibule was roofed by an elegant wooden canopy, finished in front to resemble festoons of drapery.
“The royal crown surmounted the centre, with the letters V.A. on each side. The roof was finished in the style of an Arabian tent, by graceful festoons of white and pink drapery. The steps were laid with crimson cloth from end to end, but the carpet placed for Her Majesty to walk from the railway train to the royal carriage was formed of the ‘Stuart hunting tartan’.”
Describing the Meadowbank station’s appearance for a subsequent royal visit in 1860, the Elgin Courier reported: “The station at Meadowbank was tastefully decorated for the reception of Her Majesty. The sides were hung with coloured cloths and tartans, and the stairs leading down to the platform were covered with red cloth and green tartan. When the royal train rolled into the platform, Her Majesty stepped from the carriage onto a heather mat, placed at the foot of the flight of stairs.
“The road from the Meadowbank Station to Holyrood was lined with the 13th Light Dragoons, the 78th Highlanders and a detachment of the Royal Artillery from Leith Fort. In consequence of the large number of strangers in town, there was a good turn out in the park, both of strangers and citizens, who cheered the cortege as it swept along.”
Newspaper reports suggest the Queen stopped using the private terminal in September 1881 during her visit to Edinburgh for the Royal Review. Future royal visits from then on would alight at either Waverley Station or Princes Street Station in the city centre. Nowadays, very little remains of the Queen’s Station at Meadowbank, apart from a pair of unappealing stone gate piers.