Edinburgh Filming Locations: Trainspotting (1996)

The reason I chose to go to Scotland was because I didn’t want to travel too far whilst back in Britain and also to hunt down some of the filming locations for ‘Trainspotting‘ (1996) which is one of my favourite movies. Although its ‘set‘ in Edinburgh most of the filming actually took place in the grimier Glasgow area but as that part of my trip never happened due to the strong winds circulating that part of Britain I was left with only the capital city itself which does include a couple of scenes during the films opening moments whilst ‘Lust for life’ by Iggy Pop provides the soundtrack.


We first see Renton, Sick-boy and Spud running away from John Menzies on Princes Street (above) having just robbed it. That particular newsagents is no longer there but the Boots chemist store still is albeit under construction when I was there.


Renton (Ewan McGregor) then leaps down the steps and runs on to Leith street where a car pulls out and nearly hits him to which he just looks at the driver and laughs before running off and joining his mates as they run under the bridge. The steps are located right next to the Black Bull tavern at 43 Leith Street. The street where the car pulls out of is St. Ninian’s Row.


Its not just Glasgow and Edinburgh which provided the backdrop as London also appears towards the end of the film for a couple of shots (as well as a montage of classical London images) as featured in my London ‘Trainspotting‘ feature at the start of last year.

London Filming Locations: Trainspotting

When my friends took me to see ‘Trainspotting‘ during the Easter holidays in 1996 I had never heard of it or Irvine Welsh (the author of the book which the story was based on for those not in the know) and had no idea what I was about to see. I loved the film and its movie poster, soundtrack CD and video was a major part of my University life and a fair few years later I worked my way through all of Irvine Welsh’s other books.

Whilst I was with Richard Richard in the capital city recently he said that ‘Trainspotting’ was his favourite film so we decided to track the first of two London locations down. Of course the majority of the film is set in Scotland but the boys go down south to do a drug deal. Sick Boy leads the guys out of Smallbrook Mews, across Craven Road and in to the Royal Eagle Hotel. We went to Lancaster Gate underground station to get there and do our own version of the “small-time wasters” parody of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. Needless to say that one person crossing the road (below left) doesn’t quite have the same impact as four guys crossing it.


A couple of days later I went to West Kensington tube station which was the apartment Renton allows Begbie and Sick Boy to squat in in order to get them out of his place. He’s working as an estate agent and describes it as a “beautifully converted Victorian townhouse” which is very ironic when you actually see the picture of it above right.