Wild Edinburgh urban myths including razor blades in the Commie Pool flumes

As the school summer holidays kick off, places like water parks and swimming pools around Edinburgh and the Lothians will be busier than ever.

However, one urban myth which spread like wildfire decades ago would see the popular Royal Commonwealth Pool avoided like the plague - especially the flumes, which are sadly no longer present.

It was once suggested razor blades were hidden inside the flumes which would cause damage to anyone sliding down them at speed. However, there were never any confirmed sightings or reports to substantiate the bizarre claim.

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There have also been several other tales passed down through generations which have been exaggerated or simply fabricated.

Check out our list below to see if you've been fooled by some of the myths circulating through the city over the years.

Painting the Forth Bridge

Since construction ended in 1889, the Forth Rail Bridge has been rumoured to require constant painting. The 8,094 foot long bridge has been said to need so much work to keep its red façade, that once painters reach one end they have to begin again at the other end.

So strong was this myth, that the expression ‘like painting the Forth Bridge’ was coined to describe a never-ending job. The fact of the matter is, the bridge hasn’t seen a lick of paint since 2011.

Contractors finished a paint job 11 years ago, and Network Rail confirmed at the time that it wouldn’t need another application for 25 years. That being said, painting the bridge is no mean feat.

Shane Davidson, a member of the crew that was last to paint the bridge, spoke to the Los Angeles Times in 2011. When asked if the paint job was a perpetual work in progress, he answered: “That’s just a myth now.”

He continued: “We were all sad to leave the bridge. It’s been that long a part of your life, and then all of a sudden it comes to an end.

“To be honest I feel lost without it.”

Rubbing the Bobby

Over the years, the superstitious notion that giving Greyfriars Bobby a rub on the nose will bring luck has become globally recognised.

While some think this is a centuries old tale, the ‘tradition’ was actually birthed by a tourism company who published a pamphlet for the city. The City of Edinburgh Council have battled with the damage for years now, spending hundreds on nose jobs for the celebrated pooch.

They appealed to nose-rubbers who feel the need to do so, to do it ‘gently’. The wear to the statue’s nose even prompted the creation of a Facebook campaign called Stop People Rubbing Greyfriars Bobby’s Nose - it is not a Tradition.

Razor Blades in the Commie

A common rumour throughout towns up and down the country, and Edinburgh was no different.

If you used to hear that youths would hide razor blades in the flumes at the Commonwealth Pool, you are not alone. Where a generation of Edinburgh locals learned to swim, many of us were terrified to make the brave jump down the slide.

While most of us are familiar with the legend, there are no confirmed examples of the practice - and we are thankful.

Edinburgh Castle built by the Romans

Many tourists, and some locals, believe Edinburgh Castle was built by the Romans.

In fact, excavations have revealed no proof of Romans having anything to do with the castle. What was shown was that a settlement has reigned supreme over modern-day Edinburgh since the Bronze Age.

Another rumour that tends to fly around the capital is that the Stone of Destiny that is held in the castle is fake. The ancient symbol of Scottish monarchy has witnessed several kings and queens' coronations.

In 1950, four Scottish students famously removed the stone from Westminster Abbey, before it was eventually decided that the stone should be kept in Scotland. It currently sits alongside the crown jewels of Scotland, though despite its safe return many believe the real stone is elsewhere.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t confirm nor deny this - but it's highly unlikely.

Hearts and Hibs buses?

As it stands, the Lothian buses we see daily are typically maroon and white.

Once upon a time, some of the city’s bus services were green and white. Coincidentally, these two colour schemes match the team colours of Edinburgh’s two biggest football teams - Hibs and Hearts.

This sparked the popular myth that the buses were aligned to Hibernian or Hearts. This is, of course, false.

The original maroon livery was first introduced on Edinburgh’s trams in the 1920s and 30s, and is not affiliated with any sports teams. Interestingly, Lothian Buses also felt it necessary to squash the rumour that all of their drivers wore white socks.

In a post made in 2017, they wrote: “The truth is most of the drivers we see around the garage don’t.”

The Royal Mile

Locals and tourists alike tend to be (understandably) under the impression that the Royal Mile is a mile long.

This is not quite a fact, with the Royal Mile measuring in at 1.81km long - almost 0.2km longer than a mile. It is although, the length of a Scots mile.

After the Union of Parliaments in 1701, the standard English mile came into practice in the north. In good Scottish style it took us a while to get used to it, but the Scots mile was altogether wiped out by the mid 19th century.

So by some standards, the Royal Mile has earned its name.

This article was originally published on May 3, 2022.