Craigentinny rail depot marks 100 years

A NEW locomotive decorated with insignia to mark the centenary of the Capital’s main railway depot has been unveiled.

Peter Laycock, left, and Jimmy Borthwick celebrate with colleagues in front of the Craigentinny 100. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Peter Laycock, left, and Jimmy Borthwick celebrate with colleagues in front of the Craigentinny 100. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Craigentinny depot still operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is home to the East Coast line’s fleet of 14 high-speed diesel trains.

A flagship locomotive has been decorated with the words “Craigentinny 100” and two cast-iron crests, each bearing a Scottish thistle and the message “100 Years, 1914-2014” to mark a century of work at the site.

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Edinburgh East MSP and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill delivered an address to the depot’s 250 employees at yesterday’s celebration, branding it “a key part of our national rail heritage”.

Two of the depot’s longest-serving employees cut the ribbon on the new locomotive – and for one of them, 61-year-old Jimmy Borthwick, life there runs in the family.

He said: “My father and my sister both already worked on the rail line around Craigentinny when I started in 1971, and future mother-in-law worked at the depot too.

“I even met my wife here. And now, my two sons work here as well.

“When I started here in the 1970s, there was actually talk of shutting the depot down. It traded managers every so often, and it always seemed like its future was in jeopardy.

“But it’s been such a huge investor in the area, and in families like mine.”

Peter Laycock, 63, who has been with the depot for some 43 years, also cut the ribbon as the Newtongrange Pipe Band played in the background.

“I’ve done just about every job there is at this depot since I started here in the 70s – from washing the outsides of the trains, to cleaning, to electrician,” he said.

“My brother worked here for years, too. You could say working the railways has always been in our blood – after all, my ancestor was actually the one that drove the first ever train across the Forth Bridge.”

Craigentinny Depot was built just before the end of the First World War by North British Railway, and has been evolving ever since.

Throughout the decades, it played a pivotal role in servicing iconic trains such as The Flying Scotsman and Coronation, and today services 16 trains per day.

Stuart Sellar, a rail historian from Morningside, said: “In the early 20th century when this depot was built, there were many just like it along that route, and in Edinburgh in particular. But Craigentinny has outlasted the rest because of continued investment to keep it up-to-date with changing technologies.

“If that innovation continues, I have no doubt the depot will be here in another century.”