Brightly coloured mural within the Colinton Tunnel in Edinburgh

The Colinton Tunnel Mural

Thu 27 Feb 2020

The Colinton Tunnel Mural is an exciting art project, creating a colourful design inside a Victorian railway tunnel in Colinton. At 140 metres long and 5.4 metres high, it will be Scotland’s largest historical mural, celebrating our local history, whilst also brightening up the tunnel and making it safer and more welcoming. Work is now well underway and the design is due to be completed in the spring. I went along with my family this weekend to see how it is coming along.

Runaway cart and horses part of the Colinton Tunnel mural

The tunnel is just to the east of the site of the old Colinton Station, which operated from 1874 to 1967. The station no longer stands, but the railway line and tunnel now form part of the Water of Leith Walkway, which has been open to pedestrians and cyclists since 1980. When the tunnel re-opened, lighting was installed, the walls were painted and the image of a local locomotive known as the Balerno Pug was added. But over time, the tunnel became dark, dirty and covered in graffiti. It wasn’t a very nice place to walk through. As part of this current project, new improved lighting has been fitted, the walls have been cleaned and prepped, and the mural is taking shape. They are working on it in sections, starting at the northern end.

Mural of a man and dog against a starry sky

The lively, colourful design comes from artist and muralist Chris Rutterford. He has been working with Heritage Interpreter Ann Tweedie and a team of artists, along with local community groups, to bring this project to life.

One side of the tunnel features words from the Robert Louis Stevenson poem “From A Railway Carriage”, the story of a child’s first rail journey. The rest of the wall space on both sides is used to illustrate it, with beautiful images reflecting local history.

Mural portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson

At the start of the tunnel, there’s a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson, writing in a train carriage, which is so detailed you can even read the poems scattered on the table around him.

With a nod to the old mural of the Balerno Pug, a locomotive image decorates the wall leading out of the tunnel, with one of Rutterford’s impressive crowd scenes in front of it.

Crowd scene on the Slateford side of the Colinton Tunnel

Several local primary schools are involved in the project too. The pupils have painted on ply boards, which have then been mounted on some sections of the tunnel. Such a wonderful thing for the children to be involved in, and it looks fantastic.

The Colinton Tunnel is looking amazing, and even though the project is yet to be finished, it has already achieved many of its aims. This is now a bright and friendly place to walk through and it was very busy while we were there. It’s lovely to see it being used by the local community again. The weather has been so wet lately, but the tunnel is a sheltered place for us to bring the kids for a scoot or a cycle and we absolutely love it.

Colinton Tunnel, Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh, EH13 0JX