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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is written in the Colinton Tunnel?
    The mural is based around a short poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson ‘From a Railway Carriage’. ‘From a Railway Carriage’ by Robert Louis Stevenson: Faster than fairies, faster than witches, Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches; And charging along like troops in a battle, All through the meadows the horses and cattle: All of the sights of the hill and the plain Fly as thick as driving rain; And ever again, in the wink of an eye, Painted stations whistle by. Here is a child who clambers and scrambles, All by himself and gathering brambles; Here is a tramp who stands and gazes; And there is the green for stringing the daisies! Here is a cart run away in the road Lumping along with man and load; And here is a mill and there is a river: Each a glimpse and gone for ever! The poem itself is a visual description of the delight of a child’s rail journey through fast-changing countryside at an exciting pace. The poem’s phrasing echoes the cadence of a fast-moving train and the poem itself has a special extra resonance with Stevenson’s own close connections with Colinton Village through his many visits to his grandfather, the minister in Colinton Church. The final design concept meant that the words of the poem (along one side of the Tunnel) were complemented by the images contained in those words, all drawn from different parts of Colinton and Water of Leith history – rural, artistic, military and industrial. Learn more about the development of the Tunnel Mural here.
  • What initially started the tunnel project?
    In 2017, the Colinton Tunnel was in serious disrepair and the tunnel was dirty, dark and covered in graffiti. Then in June 2018, informal discussions led to the formation of the Colinton Tunnel SCIO who were committed to changing the tunnel into a fresh and safe space that would be loved by locals! Early plans for the interior of the Tunnel focussed on the creation of a Mural, running the full length of its 140 metres. The initial design concept was developed and taken forward by Edinburgh based Muralist, Chris Rutterford and crystallised around a short Robert Louis Stevenson poem ‘From a Railway Carriage’. Learn more about the history of Colinton Tunnel here.
  • Where is the tunnel?
    It is on the Water of Leith Walkway, in southwest Edinburgh, near Colinton Village. Because it's a former railway tunnel it doesn't have a postcode (though EH13 OJX is the nearest). Find on Google Maps The Google "Plus Code" is WP5Q+5X Edinburgh If you're familiar with the "What3Words" geolocation system, the Colinton entrance to the tunnel is at: envy.pills.lands. The Slateford entrance is at notes.quiet.sticky
  • How do I get to the tunnel?
    By Bus: There are many buses that serve the local area including the 10, 16, 44, 45 and 400. For the 10, 16 and 44, when you get off the bus, head towards Colinton Village and Spylaw Park then onto the Water of Leith and walk in the direction of Slateford, the City Centre and Leith. The 45 and 400 stop in Colinton Village so follow signs for Spylaw Park and the Water of Leith, again walking in the direction of Slateford, the City Centre and Leith. By Car/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. By Bike: If you are travelling by bike, you can simply ride onto the Water of Leith Walkway from the car park (mentioned above) or if you are cycling along the Water of Leith Walkway arriving from either direction, you will find it as you approach Colinton.
  • Where are the nearest toilets?
    There are public toilets in Colinton Village, just beyond the co-op store shown on the map below. Signposts from Spylaw Park also help you find them - it's about a five-minute walk so plan ahead. We have two pubs and two restaurants in the village, whose toilets are available to their customers only.
  • When is the tunnel open and how much does it cost to visit?
    The tunnel is on a public walkway, so it's open 24/7 all year long. There's no charge for visiting, but if you enjoy the tunnel, donations are welcome.
  • When was the tunnel completed?
    Work on the Mural started in April 2019 and proceeded at the same rate as funding flowed in. Interruptions from the COVID pandemic and pauses for bad weather in the winter seasons meant that the Mural was not completed until the summer of 2021. However, areas were deliberately left where new work could be created.
  • How can I donate?
    See our "Giving" page or head to our shop to buy a souvenir. 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.
  • What are you doing about the wet parts of the tunnel?
    About 3% of the tunnel is damp or actively wet. Chris Rutterford (the artist) came up with a brilliant solution, which addressed that problem and gave other benefits too. His idea was to use 9mm marine plywood boards with a waterproof membrane behind them and attach them 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 will 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. It works brilliantly!
  • Will the mural attract graffiti?
    The Colinton Tunnel committee also had this concern at the beginning of the project and considered it carefully. However, 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. The committee 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. Using an anti-graffiti coating was considered briefly, however, this was rejected as it would only provide limited protection and would also adversely affect the tunnel bricks' ability to 'breathe', thus potentially causing long term damage. Now that the mural has been completed, the above theories have been proven valid and there have been very few issues. If there were to be any unwanted additions, the committee's contract with the artist includes maintenance and repairs so they would be removed quickly.
  • How much did the tunnel cost?
    The total project cost was just under £100,000. Ongoing maintenance costs are budgeted at £7,500 annually to keep it bright and fresh and to replace "tired" bits. 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 souvenir merchandising and ongoing donations.
  • Did you have all the money before you started?
    No, it was completed as the funding was raised! Some capital projects require that almost all of the funding is in place before the project begins. Luckily, the tunnel was able to take a more flexible and dynamic approach, proceeding as a series of mini-projects as funding permitted. This allowed the artists to address other clients' needs rather than having their time fully committed to the tunnel project.
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