Site Records

Site Name: Scotland Street Tunnel

Scotland Street
OS Grid Ref: (North portal) NT254747

Sub Brit site visit 20th September 2006

[Source: Nick Catford]

Scotland Street tunnel was one of 10 hardened emergency control centres built by the LNER during WW2, others were at:

  • Knebworth - In the goods yard north east of station; this was demolished and replaced by a new bunker in the 1950's. This in turn was demolished in the 1980's and the site is now lost under housing.
  • Bawtry - In the goods yard north west of station; this was demolished c. 2002 and the site is now lost under housing.
  • Gerards Cross  - located on the north side of the line about quarter of a mile west of the station in a deep cutting. The building was demolished many years ago
  • Shenfield - East of station between the Colchester and Southend lines. The building was used by British Railways as offices until 1968. The building was sold to the present owners in 1972 and for some years was used as their company headquarters but is now leased out as offices. The building has been maintained in good condition with the blast shutters over the windows being restored.  Internally the building has been modernised but externally there are few changes altered except a 2nd storey has been added on top of the slab roof. The picket post survives at entrance
  • East Leake - In the goods yard north east of station, the site is now lost under housing.
  • York - Built into city wall and later used as a headquarters by British Railways Board.
    The bunker is still intact and used as a store but the only external evidence is a door in a bank.
  • Norwich - Position unknown, assumed demolished.
  • Metheringham - In the goods yards adjacent to the station. The brick building is still extant.
  • Ipswich - Just east of Ipswich tunnel portal by the southbound platform.  The building had been demolished by 1997 and the site is now a car park.
  • Godley Junction -. Located on the north side of station on the Woodhead line next to engineers depot. The whole area was cleared in 1980’s.

All the protected control centres were dispersals for normal peacetime traffic offices, i.e. Liverpool Street moved to Shenfield, Kings Cross moved to Knebworth and Edinburgh Waverley moved to the Scotland Street tunnel etc.

A country mansion, The Hoo, at Whitwell (near Hitchin,

Hertfordshire), served as the wartime headquarters for the Chief General Manager of the LNER. The house which was used by the British Railways Board as offices and a training centre until 1968 was demolished in the 1980's and replaced by apartment blocks.

Photo:Scotland Street coal depot in January 1967. The north portal of
the tunnel can be seen on the right.
Photo by John Hume

After the war, the railway control centre in Scotland Street tunnel was kept on care and maintenance. Some of the WW2 railway controls had their communications refurbished in about 1951/52 and it seems likely that this would have happened at Scotland Street, as it would have been considered a priority site.

In the 1950's, the British Railways Board planned a network of new Emergency Control
Centres, but only 4 out of the proposed 30 were built with the rest of the bunkers shelved
in 1956. Those built were at Burntisland, Brickett Wood, Knebworth and Huyton Junction.

Photo:The north portal of Scotland Street tunnel
Photo by Nick Catford

The Burntisland Control Centre was under construction in 1956/7, replacing Scotland Street.  Although built, it was never fully commissioned and in 1957 work on the whole project was abruptly stopped and the British Railways Board set up a series of mobile controls instead. The building at Burntisland is a 40' X 120' flat roofed single storey blockhouse; it is still extant and now houses a diving shop.

Scotland Street Yard continued to operate as a coal depot and one track was retained at the north end of the for storing railway wagons. The coal depot closed in 1967 and the track was lifted shortly afterwards.

In the1970's the tunnel was used for growing mushrooms and Cochranes Garages Ltd leased the north end to store vehicles. It was also used as a location for monitoring natural radiation

A number of schemes for using the tunnel have been mooted since the 1970's, including a new emergency centre for Edinburgh City Councils, which was quickly rejected in the early 1980's. In the 1990’s there was a proposal to site a giant boiler inside the tunnel to generate power for the city centre and in recent years there have been proposals to use the tunnel as an underground car park and to reopen it for a new light railway or busses.

Photo:Looking north along Scotland Street tunnel - in this central section the brick walls are covered with flowstone (calcium carnonate).
Photo by Nick Catford

The site of Canal Street Station (NT258739) is now lost under Waverley Market. The station had curving platforms from the north to the west and a junction was later formed with the new lines running east-west through Waverley station which faced west.

The site of Scotland Street Station (NT254747) goodsyard is a playground and the platform area has been leveled and made into parkland. The portals of the two tunnels at either end of the station can still be very clearly seen flanking either side of the playground

For further information and pictures of Scotland Street tunnel click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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