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Claverhouse (ex Granton Hotel) - Edinburgh

Built 1838 by the Duke of Buccleuch to cater for passengers taking the Granton-Burntisland ferry, prior to the opening of the Forth Bridge. Requisitioned for the Royal Navy 1939

Red Wheel Site:
Transport Mode(s):
Rail, Water

 8 Granton Square, Edinburgh

Visitor Centre:

About Claverhouse (ex Granton Hotel) - Edinburgh

In the years before the Forth Bridge (opened in March 1890) the only crossing of the Firth of Forth was either upstream at Stirling, a considerable distance, or via ferry. From 1850 onwards this problem is solved by train ferries running between Granton, now part of Edinburgh city, and Burntisland on the north side of the Firth of Forth.

Conceived by Sir Thomas Bouch, the train ferries were designed to carry freight not passengers. and passenger ferries continued to make the crossing. Travel via Stirling was sufficiently long as to justify moving goods wagons across the Firth of Forth on the specially-built ferries, which also moved locomotives and empty coaches to other parts of the rail system.

Little now remains – the passenger train service was withdrawn in 1925, and the last freight ceased in 1986, after which the embankment carrying the line up towards the city was removed to improve daylight for the houses opposite it.

The building at 8 Granton Square, Edinburgh EH5 1HA which was originally part of a planned waterside development by the Duke of Buccleuch in the late 1830s and was completed in 1838 to serve as a Railway Hotel. The site was important as it fronted onto the new pier from which rail passengers and freight (the latter in the world’s first ro-ro ferry) were conveyed across the Forth to Burntisland. The design is attributed to William Burn by John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker in their book on the buildings of Edinburgh, although previous descriptions state that it was designed by John Henderson.

Long-distance rail traffic ceased with the opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890. Local passenger trains became uneconomic owing to tram competition and ceased in 1925. A passenger ferry for local travellers continued until the outbreak of the Second World War. At that point the Royal Navy took over the Granton Hotel, and commissioned it as HMS Claverhouse for Reserve training. From April 1940 it was in use for Merchant Navy Defence Courses, and also served as the headquarters for the Motor Launches of the local Coastal Forces.
Decommissioned on 15 August 1945, Claverhouse then became the Training Centre of the Forth Division. It was also a drill ship until 1958, and continued in naval use as a Royal Naval Reserve headquarters and training centre until a merger with HMS Scotia at Rosyth in 1995.

Known today as the Army Reserve Centre at Claverhouse, the building is now home to the Edinburgh detachment of 205 Field Hospital;  Scotland's only Army Reserve Field Hospital. 205 Field Hospital provides highly trained clinically current secondary healthcare professionals in support of miliary operations accross the globe. The Army Medical Services (AMS) Reservists are employees of NHS Scotland; same people, different environment. In their spare time, Army Reservists train to adapt their medical or healthcare training to challenging military environments, such as temporary Field Hospitals in tents or buildings, using simple equipment. The unit has personnel curretly deployed on operations. A naval connection is retained since also present are No.17 (Granton) Platoon, Army Cadet Force and the Edinburgh Sea Cadet Unit TS Trinity.

The 1840's railway pier still survives today as it is Granton Mid Pier. In December 2020 a Red Wheel was unveiled at Burtisland to mark the Fife end of the route.

The Claverhouse Red Wheel plaque was unveiled on 26th November 2021 by Baroness Goldie accompanied by NTT Vice President John Yellowlees, Deputy Chairman Jerry Swift and Capian James Howe (Scots) PSAO E Det


Photo credits: By Kim Traynor - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR