Railway carriage cafe to pull in at docks redevelopment

COFFEE being sold from disused police boxes is a common sight in the Capital.

But Leithers are soon to be visiting another unusual snack stand – a refurbished railway carriage.

The former carriage is to be converted into a new waterside cafe in the Alexandra Dock area of The Shore.

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The idea was first raised with planners in 2006, and now a final submission has been made to confirm land ownership and ensure the development can finally go ahead.

The Pullman carriage, likely to be from rolling stock used on one of the inter-city routes in the 1980s, will be shipped in from England and installed on some of the old tracks which remain in the area.

Visitors to the sandwich bar and takeaway will learn about the 50-year history of passenger trains in Leith, clustered around the former Leith Central Station, which opened in 1903 but was closed in 1952.

The facility will seat approximately 12 inside, with space for an additional 40 people in the outdoor seating area.

A special viewing platform is to be created alongside the railway carriage and Forth Ports – the port operator and landowner masterminding the 2 billion overhaul of the area over the next 20 years – has already taken down security fencing, installed picnic benches and introduced new street lights.

Nathan Thompson, managing director of Forth Property Developments Ltd, said: "This is an exciting project, which demonstrates our continued commitment to make the waterfront an even more attractive place for local residents and visitors. We look forward to progressing our plans and speaking to potential partners who can help us create another quality attraction at the waterfront."

Leith councillor Gordon Munro welcomed the move.

He said: "Leith has always had a cafe culture and people are always looking for somewhere new to go, so I think this will add to the attraction of the docks. I think it is a bit of fun."

A giant observation tower is also set to be built in the heart of Leith docklands in a bid to attract thousands of new visitors to the port.

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Forth Ports says the tower, which is planned for the Alexandra Dry Dock, will become a "must-see" attraction on the redeveloped waterfront.

Other ideas for the regeneration of The Shore include converting a former power station at the Alexandra Dock into a pub or restaurant.

The docks area is envisaged to become home to a cruise liner terminal, along with Venice-style apartment blocks virtually surrounded by water and complete with their own storage space for boats, a new public park and beach, and a Tate-style contemporary art gallery.

Forth Ports is also expected to oversee the creation of a number of new bridges and walkways, opening up access to the docks area as it is redeveloped over the coming years.