Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25791 73853
325791, 673853


Predominantly 1892-1900 (W R Galbraith, consulting engineer for parliamentary plans to 1891; James Bell, chief engineer to North British Railway responsible for platforms, signalling and permanent way; J S Pirie, site engineer, Cunningham, Blyth and Westland – from 1893 Blyth and Westland – principal structural engineers including roof; P and W McLellan, general contractors; Herbert Waller Raithby, Blyth and Westland, chief architectural architect responsible for booking hall and offices); later alterations of various dates.

Extensive city-centre late 19th century railway station primarily at lower street level sunk next to Princes Street Gardens centred under and between Waverley Bridge and North Bridge (see separate listing), comprising extensive roof covering, station buildings and station infrastructure, ashlar arcaded screen walling, with suburban platforms with decorative awnings and various access points to north, west and south. The former parcels office (1898-1900) and Waverley Bridge (circa 1894-6) which forms part of station infrastructure, were designed and built by the same engineers. Waverley Steps (1868-74 with extensive early 21st century alterations), located to the north are not considered special in listing terms.


The 3-storey, rectangular-plan, Free Renaissance BOOKING HALL AND OFFICES building was designed by Herbert Waller Raithby (of Blyth and Westland), 1896-1900. It is constructed of sandstone ashlar and has railway offices at upper floors and later alterations for retail units at ground floor. It has Giant Order pilasters, keystoned cartouches, basket-arched doorways, and is flat-roofed with a central well lighting the booking hall. Base course, full entablature with dentil cornice above 1st floor, ashlar mullions. Clock with 1897 cipher and emblems of Glasgow and Edinburgh in keystones to east elevation. South elevation has bronze panelled war memorial to North British Railway dead of First World War. Variety of openings, some altered. Predominantly timber glazing with 15-pane upper sashes with some reglazing.

The booking hall interior rises to 2 floors and its facing ashlar elevations has Giant Order pilasters including a base course, plain frieze and modillioned and egg and dart cornice. Mosaic flooring is known to exist under later covering. Ground floor openings to peripheral shops and ticket area have been altered. All the keystones have cartouches some with carved cyphers. There is an elaborate 9-compartment ceiling, divided by coffered mahogany bands. Central dome, cast iron, with geometric tracery and small cupola, supported on drum with panels of putti and garlands. Outer glazed part with elaborate wrought iron grilles. Plaster panels in corners with arabesque and Rococo ornament.

The station roof is of ridge and furrow type with an aluminium cassette system with laminated glass. It is supported on cast iron columns and masonry screen and retaining walls, and on the central office block. Corinthian columns on elaborate octagonal panelled bases formerly acted as downpipes to drain the roof valleys.

The former station PARCELS OFFICE is located at street level at Waverley Bridge and was erected 1898-1900. It is a single-storey 3 by 7 bay flat-roofed classically detailed building with round-headed openings between paired pilasters. Its interior was converted to restaurant use around 1988.

Flanking the parcels office are 2 mirror image classically detailed carriageway ramps including lamp standards from Waverley Bridge to platform level, with footpaths; they are both constructed in 2 sections, with covered ends in station built of solid, grooved ashlar retaining walls with stepped balustrading.

The entrance from Market Street is lintelled between pilastered ashlar piers with pulvinated frieze, prominent cornice, and scrolled terminals with ball finials.

There are internal high level footbridges which have been variously altered but are primarily X-shaped and lattice girder truss construction and supported on cast iron Roman Doric columns with octagonal panelled bases; survival of some ornamental wrought iron railings in places.

WAVERLEY BRIDGE is an integral part of the station and acts as roof over the west end of the platforms. Dating to 1894-6 by Blyth and Westland engineers, it incorporates fabric from the earlier bridge including the 1870s lattice girder structure. It is a 7-span plate girder bridge, with later fibreglass covering to steel parapet. Each span is carried on 7 octagonal, tapering cast iron columns with Gothic bases and bracketed tops. Carriageway and footpaths on brick arches, some transverse, some longitudinal.

Statement of Special Interest

When it was rebuilt at the very end of the 19th century, Waverley became the largest station in Britain (until the new Waterloo Station in London was opened in 1921) and is remarkably well-planned and effective, even by modern standards. It is one of UK's greatest surviving Victorian city stations and is distinct in having the largest island platform configuration in the country.

The late 19th century roof profile made of parallel lattice girders, in an unusual ridge and furrow arrangement was designed so that it would not interfere with the historic setting but also to accommodate complex railway traffic which required a wide expanse of parallel track.

Waverley Station is located in a key position within Edinburgh's city centre and is at a historic juncture between the Old Town and the New Town in the valley of the former Nor' Loch. It is an important component of the Edinburgh's historic urban setting, and represents the significant changes to the city's core following the modernisation brought forward by the railways during the golden age of their expansion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The station is a contiguous architectural link between the highly prominent North Bridge and the lower Waverley Bridge which itself frames the eastern end of Princes Street Gardens and along with the connecting railway lines to the east and west of the station, defines the landscape of the gardens below Princes Street.

Waverley was the flagship station for the North British Railway at the time it was comprehensively rebuilt in the 1890s. The planning of Waverley Station is based on its lower-ground location which has led to the extensive island-platform arrangement, unusual for such a large city station and consequently the largest of its kind in Britain.

While later development for operational and commercial needs took place in the 20th century, and continues to take place, the main late 19th century buildings' plan forms are substantially intact.

The work to reorganise the station and site was a monumental engineering achievement at the time and included the rebuilding of North Bridge – while the station remained in operation – to allow for increased rail traffic. At the time of rebuilding, Waverley covered an extensive 23 acres to accommodate a singularly complex rail traffic system that created unusually a terminus and a through station.

The most outstanding feature of the station is the extensive roof ridge and furrow roof system. While technologically interesting, it was also a solution to ensure the station itself would remain low-lying in its restricted location between the North Bridge and the Waverley Bridge and not interrupt Edinburgh's historic skyline. This roof was similar in form to the one constructed in 1869-74 but covered a much greater area. The horizontal arrangement of the roof was favoured in Scotland in contrast to the tall cathedral roof commonly found at large city stations in other parts of the UK. The current roofing system follows the original pattern and is an aluminium cassette system with laminated glass.

The Free Renaissance architectural detailing is of high quality and is consistently applied to the principal building within the station, with the overall appearance of the station retaining its late 19th century character.

The former parcels office is located on the site of the previous (mid 19th century) station building and is designed in a simple classical style reminiscent of the earlier station buildings.

William Robert Galbraith (1829–1914), civil engineer, was the North British Railways Parliamentary Consultant, acting as a resident expert and adviser during Parliamentary hearings on the company's engineering. He was consulting engineer for the London and Southwestern Railway from 1862 to 1907.

James Bell (junior) (1844-1935) was the son of James Bell (senior), formerly engineer in chief of the North British Railway. He entered the service of the North British as a junior in his father's department in 1860 and at the end of his training as a civil engineer was appointed district engineer of that company's central and eastern sections. In 1871 he was appointed assistant engineer and later in the same year he succeeded his father as engineer-in-chief.

James Simpson Pirie (1860-1943), site engineer of Blyth, Cunningham and Westland. The first 40 years of Pirie's professional life were spent almost entirely on railway and dock construction works, first for the Caledonian and afterwards for the North British Railway Companies in Scotland. He entered the practice of Blyth & Cunningham in Edinburgh in 1877 rising to the position of chief assistant in the early years of the 20th century and then to Partner in 1917 when the firm was known as Blyth and Blyth.

The engineering firm of Cunningham, Blyth & Westland had its origin in B & E Blyth founded in 1848 by Benjamin Hall Blyth and his brother Edward. They established a reputation as consulting engineers. They had a reputation for efficiency and thoroughness and the years 1870 to 1900 were the Blyth firm's busiest, mainly with railway work. Benjamin Hall Blyth died in 1866. George Miller Cunningham, who had been the firm's chief assistant for many years, was taken into partnership in 1867, the practice becoming Blyth & Cunningham. Edward Blyth retired in 1886 and David Monro Westland, who had joined the firm as an apprentice in 1863 and had risen to the post of chief assistant, was taken into partnership, the practice title changing to Cunningham, Blyth & Westland. When Cunningham retired in 1893, the firm was renamed as Blyth & Westland.

Herbert Waller Raithby (b. 1870) began working for the engineers Cunningham, Blyth & Westland (after 1893 Blyth & Westland) likely in the late 1880s as civil engineer and architect's assistant and later promoted to chief architectural assistant. Engineering of June 1900 records the main station building's design as by 'Mr Raithby, the Chief Architectural Assistant' of Blyth & Westland.

Waverley Station was the hub of the North British Railway (NBR) with a rail network expanding to 1,389 miles of track at its peak. The NBR was the northernmost link in a chain of railways connecting London to Edinburgh via York and Newcastle and in 1846 it was the first railway company to cross the Scottish-English border. The building of Waverley Station in the late 19th century coincided with the NBR's heyday, the period after the building of the (second) Tay Bridge and the Forth Bridge in 1887 and 1890 respectively up until the First World War. The NBR was later taken over by the London and North Eastern Railway and finally by British Rail when the railways were nationalised in the 1960s. The station is now owned and managed by Network Rail.

The Waverley Steps were constructed before the Waverley Market was erected in the 1870s and have been significantly altered in early 21st century. The steps were not considered of special interest at the time of the listing review (2015).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2015. Previously listed as 'Waverley Station, 4, 17, 31 and 33 Waverley Bridge and 31, 32, 36-39 (Inclusive Nos) Market Street Including Waverley Bridge and 45 Market Street (Sub-structure only)'.



CANMORE ID 52247 [accessed 15.1.15]

Bartholomew, J. G. (1901-2) Bartholomew's Plan of Edinburgh and Leith with Suburbs Constructed from Ordnance and Actual Surveys. Edinburgh: Bartholomew.

Alan Baxter and Associates, (2006-7) Edinburgh Waverley Station – Statement of Significance and Guiding Principles for Future Development. Report compiled for Historic Scotland.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, William Robert Galbraith [accessed 03/02/2015].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, James Bell (junior) [accessed 03/02/2015].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Cunningham, Blyth and Westland [accessed 03/02/2015].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, James Simpson Pirie [accessed 03/02/2015].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Herbert Waller Raithby [accessed 03/02/2015].

Engineering Waverley Station (1900), Vol. 69.

Gifford, J., McWilliam, C. and Walker, D. (1984) Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. pp. 289-1.

Hume, John R. (1976) The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland, Vol. 1. London: Batsford. P. 191.

Network Rail. (2009) Edinburgh Waverley Station – Strategic Conservation Document. Unpublished.

Ordnance Survey. (1877) Large scale town plans, Edinburgh. London: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey. (1894) Large scale town plans, Edinburgh. London: Ordnance Survey.

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