The Waverley Steps, Edinburgh

AT THE TOP OF THE YEAR it was reported that the Waverley Steps in Edinburgh had undergone a transformation with a new covered walkway and escalator. The 145 year-old thoroughfare’s new look is said to have cost a cool £7m.

My own first thoughts on seeing newly released images of it were that the construction looks quite incongruous with the surrounding architecture of the adjacent classic Balmoral Hotel, particularly in the way the roof is situated half way down the hotel’s windows. I really can’t see what else the designers could have done too differently though, apart from shelve the project completely. I’m satisfied that they’ve probably done all they reasonably could with the new structure.

The glass roof will offer some protection from the elements. Picture: Jane Barlow

The new Waverley Steps construction

As it was – a formidable sight for the weary traveller

Although the design perhaps seems a little ‘chancy’ when considering the historic environment, there are some good points regarding this improvement of the old access to Princes Street. It always seemed to be blowing a huge gale down those steps and it could be a slightly inhospitable first experience of Edinburgh to the visitor. The fact that disabled access to Waverley Station is improved is also a very welcome addition.

Enlargement of a Valentine's Postcard  - Waverley Steps  -  Posted 1936

Blowing a gale!

I guess I was just interested in this story as that familiar trudge up the steps was always a bit symbolic to me. I never minded it because I knew I was visiting back home again and I was always anxious and pleased to see the old place again sometimes after a long wait and that few expectant hours on the train. Edinburgh really does show it’s best face to the visitor almost immediately after alighting the old stairway – much more than most cities where the railway stations are often situated in less attractive areas. I tend to drive to Edinburgh these days but the thought of a quick pint or two, with my travel bag chucked in the corner of the Guildford Arms or Cafe Royal after climbing those steps would always set me up for a nice stay. That familiar brewing smell in the Edinburgh air, the old sights followed by a pint in one of my favourite pubs always felt good and welcoming. ‘The holidays starts here’.

It’s heartening to read that most people appear to be pleased with the the Edinburgh institution’s new incarnation.

2 thoughts on “The Waverley Steps, Edinburgh”

  1. At last physically challenged persons and old folks will now be able to go up and down the Waverley steps with ease thanks to the new escalator. This escalator will be of great services because for a long time it has quite a hustle walking up and down the Waverley steps.

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