8. The Edinburgh Vaults
In 1785, the construction of the Edinburgh Vaults commenced under the South Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was completed and opened in 1788. The South Bridge’s surface was thus dotted with numerous booming businesses with their workshops located underneath them, while still below this, living quarters existed. The lower you were under the bridge, the lower your social status was.
Life under the bridge was in constant motion and development. Criminals moved illegal materials through the tunnels in a black market, a red-light district with gambling venues cropped up, pubs and brothels were established, and crime and murder prospered. It is even said that at one point, serial killers were able to murder over a dozen victims and store the bodies in the vaults without being detected or stopped.
However, the conditions in the vaults were so bad that even the poorest citizens were leaving their underground slums between 1835 and 1875. The vaults were eventually shut down and forgotten.
In the 1980s, a rugby player and bar owner named Norrie Rowan tried to help his Romanian colleague Cristian Raducanu (who had defected to the UK) escape the Romanian secret police and discovered a tunnel underneath his bar that led to the Edinburgh Vaults. The find led to Raducanu’s successful escape as well as the vaults’ revival. The tunnels and chambers were excavated and restored. When children’s toys, medicine, and other household items were discovered, it was realized that the Edinburgh Vaults were home to many unfortunates. Today, the vaults are a major tourist attraction for those seeking the thrill of ghost tours.