6 Things You Might Not Know About Edinburgh!
All of us here at Dickins are getting very excited about our new sister company Unlock Tours which will be officially up and running this summer! In preparation for our Edinburgh tours, we’ve been reading various books on Edinburgh and we thought it’d fun to share a couple fun facts from Christopher Winn’s book “I Never Knew That About Scotland” with you! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, hopefully, you’ll find out something new about Edinburgh.
1. The Only Train Station in the World named after a Novel
Yes, you guessed it, Waverley Station is the only train station in the world named after a book! It’s also the second largest station in the UK. Waverley was one of the first novels of Sir Walter (1771-1832) who also penned the classics Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian and Ivanhoe. The story follows the adventures of Englishman Edward Waverley in 1745 Scotland, where he becomes involved in the Jacobite rebellion and the attempt to restore the Stuart kings to the British throne. In the first year of its publication, Waverley sold more copies than all other novels issued in the UK that year in total.
2. An Awkward Ritual
As if giving birth wasn’t already an uncomfortable experience, can you imagine having a government minister present during the birth too? Well, this was the case for many royals thanks to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the birth of James VI of Scotland and I of England. Due to the difficult birth of James, who was born in Edinburgh Castle, many believed Mary Queen of Scots’ baby was stillborn and another baby was substituted in its place. Therefore, from that time on a government minister was required to be present at every royal birth to ensure fair play. This awkward ritual was performed for the last time at the birth of Princess Margaret in 1930!
3. The Famous Faces who attended Fettes College
Fettes College in Edinburgh is somewhat of a breeding ground for politicians. A few famous names include Selwyn Lloyd (1904-78), Foreign Secretary during Suez crisis, Ian Macleod (1913-70), Edward Heath’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. However, perhaps the most exciting fictional student who attended Fettes was non-other than James Bond! That’s right, according to Ian Fleming’s novel “You Only Love Twice”, agent 007 attended Fettes after being expelled from Eton!
4. The Real Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born at 11 Picardy Place, just below Calton Hill. In 1876 he studied medicine at University of Edinburgh and attended the lectures of Dr. Joseph Bell, whose remarkable powers of deduction inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson was based on Conan Doyle himself!
5. Heart of Midlothian
If you’ve been along the Royal Mile, you may have noticed a heart shape in the cobbles outside St Giles called the Heart of Midlothian. The Heart of Midlothian was coined by Sir Walter Scott for the Old Tolbooth which was the administrative centre of medieval Edinburgh. In the 17th century, it was the local gaol (pronounced Jail), although apparently not a very good one as nearly everyone put there managed to escape! The many who did escape would spit on the gaol door with contempt and nowadays it’s considered good luck (and manners) to spit in the center of the heart!
6. Innocent Railway
Some of you cyclists out there may be familiar with the Innocent Railway as it’s currently a popular cycle route, however, it was originally Edinburgh’s first railway! The horse-drawn Edinburgh to Dalkeith line opened in 1831 and skirted Holyrood Park. It was known as the Innocent Railway because despite carrying 400,000 passengers a year there were no accidents! Nowadays, the Innocent Railway cycle path runs from the Newington/St Leonard’s area under Holyrood Park via Duddingston and Craigmillar to Brunstane in the East of the city. If you’re a keen cyclist why not check out 5 Places Every Cyclist in Edinburgh Should Know About.
Stay in a Holiday Home with it’s own fun fact… 1 Scotland Street
We can’t think of anywhere better to call a home from home for an Alexander McCall Smith fan than Scotland Street. 1(TFL) Scotland Street is located on the same road as Alexander McCall Smith‘s popular book series called 44 Scotland Street. Located on the top floor (the climb means fabulous rooftop views and lots of sunlight) the apartment is absolutely lovely. There’s a wonderful charm about 1 Scotland Street that we’re sure you’ll love!