This section contains the answers to many of the questions that we are asked. Please also see our Links to extended information
Where is the tunnel? It is on the Water of Leith Walkway, in southwest Edinburgh. Because it's a former railway tunnel it doesn't have a postcode (though EH13 OJX is the nearest), but the following Google Maps link is helpful in finding it:
The Google "Plus Code" is WP5Q+5X Edinburgh
What buses go there? The 10 and 16 and 44 all serve the local area. So do the 45 and the 400
- If you use the 10, get off at Rustic Cottages, cross over Colinton Road so you're on the same side as the Co-op store and go down Bridge Road in Colinton Village. Just after the Pharmacy, go down the steps into Cuddies Lane, cross over Spylaw Street and head down towards Spylaw Park. Just after the bridge over the Water of Leith, turn right and climb the short flight of steps that take you to the Water of Leith Walkway.. Turn right at the top and the tunnel is about 100 metres ahead.
- If you use the 16, it terminates on Westgarth Avenue. Walk in the direction that the bus was going and at the bottom of the road cross over to the Co-op store. From there, follow the same route as shown above.
- If you use the 44 from the city centre, get off at Gillespie Crossroads. Keep walking in the direction that the bus was going, and turn left at the traffic lights. Follow that road (Gillespie Road) for about 500 metres. When the road swings right and across a bridge, walk straight on down the wee road ahead of you, signposted to Spylaw Park. That road leads to a car park but you should pick up the gravel path on your left, which comes out less than 40 metres from the tunnel entrance.
- If you use the 45 or 400 there are two possibilities. If you are coming from the direction of the airport or Riccarton, get off at Colinton Village outsuide just by Colinton pharmacy. Cuddies Lane is on your left, so pick up the directions from there as for the number 10 above. If you are coming from Newcraighall, Liberton, Fairmilehead, etc on the 400, or from Musselburgh or the city centre on the 45, get off at Colinton Village, cross Bridge Road and go up the hill towards the pharmacy for about 20 metres, before picking up the directions as for the number 10 when you reach Cuddies Lane on your left.
What if I'm coming by road (car or bike)? There is limited car parking under the Gillespie Road viaduct (accessed by a narrow road at the north end of the viaduct. From the car park, follow signs along the Water of Leith Walkway towards Slateford, the City Centre and Leith. The tunnel is only about 130 metres away. If you are travelling by bike, you can simply ride onto the Water of Leith Walkway from the car park. If you're particularly well-heeled you can probably land your helicopter in nearby Spylaw Park (generous landing fees can be donated through our Giving page, please!)
Why do you think that the mural will increase footfall for Colinton? The idea for the project came when our bank and a number of key retail businesses in the village were closing. We spoke with a number of people who had been involved with public art projects in the UK, Canada and the USA; and the consensus was that major public artworks become “destinations” in their own right. The small town of Chemainus, on Vancouver Island, saw an increase of almost 100,000 visitors annually after their mural project. We don’t expect to emulate that, but have been rigorous in establishing baseline footfall and cyclist data along our section of the Water of Leith Walkway so that succeeding annual surveys can measure change - which we anticipate being upward. We're now seeing more than 1,000 visitors on some days and are repeating our footfall and cyclist counts at least once a year.
What are you doing about the wet parts of the tunnel? About 3% of the tunnel is still damp or actively wet. Our artist came up with a briliiant solution, which addresses that problem and gives other benefits. 9mm marine plywood boards with a waterproof membrane behind them are now attached to the walls in various parts of the tunnel, including the wet bits. There is a gap behind them so that air and water can circulate, and they are removable for the Council's periodic structural inspections. The boards can be shaped, e.g. cut out like a person or an animal, or left square. That enables a sort of 3D effect in places, as you can see when you visit. The smooth surface of the boards also enables fine details to be painted, which isn't possible on the brickwork. Finally, the boards can be carried to schools, youth groups and other community participants for painting, taking the mural to them rather than needing to bring them to the tunnel. After painting, they are varnished on both sides and fixed to the brickwork. As you'll see, it works brilliantly!.
Surely this project will just attract more graffiti? This was also a concern of ours and we considered it very carefully. First, there is a body of research evidence which indicates that good quality public art tends to reduce the incidence of casual and/or antisocial graffiti. Some links to that research are at http://www.colintontunnel.org.uk/index.php/further-reading. We also consulted City of Edinburgh Council’s anti-graffiti specialists, who were unequivocal in saying that putting a mural in the tunnel is the best thing that could be done. We also considered, but ultimately rejected, using an anti-graffiti coating. That decision was primarily because, whilst affording limited protection, it would adversely affect the tunnel bricks’ ability to “breathe”, thus potentially causing long term damage. Finally, and pragmatically, we have accepted that there will always be a small risk of damage being done by a stupid minority, and our contract with the artist includes maintenance and repairs so that any unwanted additions are removed quickly. Post-painting repair provision will be extended further as funds permit. The theory seems to be valid - there hasn't been a single problem since we began, despite the obvious attraction of a "blank canvas" of masonry paint along three quarters of the tunnel for nearly six months.
How much will it cost? The total project cost is just under £100,000, excluding ongoing maintenancecosts. There may be additional minor costs for ongoing schools and community engagement events, but we plan that these will potentially be covered by income from post-mural merchandising.
Did you have all the money before you started? No, but we'll need it to complete the job! Some capital projects require that almost all of the funding is in place before the project begins. We were able to take a more flexible approach and dynamic approach and took the project forward as a series of phases as funding permitted. That was also helpful for our artists, who needed to have time available to address other clients' needs rather than having their time totally committed to our project. We can now receive donations through Virgin Money Giving (more cost-effective than JustGiving, as well as being UK based), by QR code and by text message. There's signage in the tunnel pointing visitors towards the ways that they can donate
How can I donate? See our "Giving" page or use the link to Virgin Money Giving through the big red button below. We're also constantly researching and making applications for grants and other corporate funding. If you know of a grant-making body please let us know or suggest us to them.
When will you "go public"? We now have a stunning images covering almost all of the tunnel, and have gone very public! Word of mouth is working well, as are social media and our website. There are now stunning images on almost all of the walls and ceiling. The mural is is attracting visitors (from far afield as well as from Edinburgh) and is also helping to attract both publicity and donations. It's great to have gone from "we're planning to ..." to "We have!"
When will it be done and how will you celebrate? We originally planned to finish the mural by mid 2020, but then COVID-19 came along and lockdown threw our plans out of the window. Our main concern is to have a high quality outcome, and quality is more important to us than speed. We are now aiming for late September 2020, but the COVID restrictions mean that we won't be able to have a public event to celebrate, so we'll hope to do something in 2121. We'll be continuing findraising to support maintenance, repairs, and any "nice to have" additions.