Blair Street Vaults

Blair Vaults are part of an area of Edinburgh formed when the South Bridge was built in the late eighteenth century, at the time a staggering engineering feat which joined the two sides of the valley together for the first time and helped build the beautiful city we see today. The vaults were never meant to be lived in, having been intended as workshops for the shops above, but eventually, as was often the case in Victorian England, with its unprecedented influx of people into the cities, they inevitably became what the poor of the city came to call home.

They must have been miserable dwellings, though. Rat infested, wringing wet with leakage from the surrounding rock and totally devoid of light or ventilation, life in the vaults was hideous and short. Children born there would be lucky to survive for long enough to learn to walk, but should they do so through some fluke, they would toddle through filth thrown randomly into the underground gutter the people who lived there thought of as the street. Going into the Vaults to live was a sign that life had reached its very lowest ebb and the chances of a man finding employment when he carried the stink of Blair Vaults on his clothing was virtually nil.

Small wonder then that the air of the Vaults today, opened up in the 1980s, is full of the cries of the people who lived and died there. These cries might not be audible to everyone, but the vibrations make the atmosphere of the Blair Vaults eerie to all but the most insensitive of visitors. There are cold spots and breezes, unlikely in this unventilated warren, and many people have seen ghostly shapes materialising and disappearing before their unbelieving eyes. Some of the spirits have even been seen on images on digital cameras and are certainly hard to explain away.

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