6th December 1869

Edinburgh station roof collapses

Nearly the entire roof of the Caledonian Railway’s new station at Lothian Road – later to become known as Princes Street Station – collapsed during its construction on 6 December 1869. The Fife Herald of 9 December reported that it “came to the ground with a tremendous crash, bringing with it the north side of the erection and the iron pillars supporting the centre roof.”

“Wreck of wood and iron”

The collapse occurred at five in the evening when work on the site was over. All but four of the 100 workers employed there had already left the site, and those that remained escaped unharmed. Also fortunate was that some parts of the station, which already stretched 122m along the track bed, were undamaged, including the booking office and waiting rooms. Nonetheless, continued the Fife Herald, “it will be a considerable time before the ground in the interior can possibly be cleared from the wreck of wood and iron with which it is encumbered.”

The day after the collapse, the Edinburgh Evening Courant estimated the cost of the damage at between £1000 and £1200 and noted that “the opening of the new station must for a long time be delayed.”

Damaged by fire

Fortunately, the delay seemed not to have been as serious as the Courant expected, with the station opening for passengers in 1870, at which point the station it was replacing – also on Lothian Road – was devoted to goods traffic. However, the new station was badly damaged by fire in 1890. On 16 June that year, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that fire had broken out shortly before two o’clock in the afternoon “and soon assumed serious proportions”.

At the time, plans were already underway to replace the largely wooden structure with a more substantial stone building. The fire therefore precipitated work on a new, larger building, which opened three years later and remained in service until the 1960s. At that point, all passenger traffic was focused on Waverley Station.



Other events that occured in December

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