Delayed recognition for railway hero is arriving at Platform 4

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THE FORGOTTEN father of Scotland's railways is to be finally honoured on the world's first inter-city passenger line, which he designed.

The legacy of John Miller will be remembered next week in a ceremony at Haymarket station, the original terminus of the 163-year-old main Edinburgh-Glasgow route.

The Ayr-born engineer was responsible for some of the country's major lines and most spectacular viaducts, built at the height of Victorian railwaymania, but his name has since faded into obscurity.

But next Tuesday he will finally win recognition with the dedication of a plaque to mark the bicentenary of his birth.

The 45-mile Edinburgh- Glasgow line, Scotland's busiest, was an engineering marvel in itself. The virtually level route enabled early steam trains, which struggled with gradients, to reach the speed of 30mph when it opened in 1842.

Although the fastest journeys took one hour 50 minutes, more than twice as long as today, this was a fraction of the journey time by canal or coach.

Miller evened out the hilly terrain with deep cuttings, tunnels, high embankments and viaducts, such as that over the River Avon, west of Linlithgow.

Sir Frederic Smith, a government inspector, commented: "There is no line in the kingdom which possesses so great a number of beautiful pieces of masonry, and the whole of the bridges and viaducts appear to have been constructed with great care."

Miller, who designed his first railway aged just 21, was also responsible for the 181ft high Ballochmyle viaduct over the River Ayr, south of Kilmarnock, which has Britain's largest masonry arches.

His other lines included Dundee-Arbroath, Glasgow-Dumfries and Edinburgh-Berwick-upon-Tweed, the first cross-Border rail link.

He also designed the Edinburgh-Hawick section of the Waverley line to Carlisle.

Despite a request in his will, no biography of Miller was ever written, but he tried to have his achievements recorded for posterity by commissioning artists to paint his railways.

He retired from engineering at just 45 and built a mansion in Polmont and a second on the Leithenhopes estate, which he bought near Innerleithen in the Borders.

Miller twice failed to be elected as an MP before winning a seat in Edinburgh in 1868, but only held it for eight years.

Roddy Simpson, writing in the Scots Magazine, said: "Miller seems to have been somewhat modern in his approach to politics, representing certain views to get votes but doing something different when elected."

But he added: "He has an enduring memorial in the railways he built still being used today, and especially in his magnificent viaducts."

The plaque will be unveiled on Platform 4 - used by Glasgow-bound trains - by Sarah Boyack, the MSP and former transport minister.

The memorial was inspired by Professor Roland Paxton, of Heriot-Watt University, who secured a portrait of Miller for the university three years ago.