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Pub: Nicol Edwards.

Byline: Jonathan Trew

IF THE publicity is to be believed, Nicol Edwards on Niddrie Street in Edinburgh is Scotland's most haunted pub.

Set in the vaults under the South Bridge, it certainly has a spooky location. On the night we were in, the only spirits we saw were in the optics.

Apparently, Nicol Edwards was the Lord Provost of Edinburgh back in the days when Auld Reekie reeked, you used burning witches to light your fags and getting axed from your job was literally a pain in the neck. A nasty man born into brutal times, Edwards was reputed to be what we would now call a right bampot. Not a great pioneer for equal opportunities, Edwards had his wife banished to a deserted island where she died. Her unspeakable crime was to have shouted to him in the street from a window.

Legend has it that he buried all his ill-gotten wealth in the beer cellars under his house. As the centuries passed, the street his house sat on was built over and incorporated into the vaults underneath the South Bridge.

The pub is said to be situated above the remains of his house and the owners of the pub are excavating the vaults in the hope of uncovering the loot. You don't get that in a Wetherspoons.

The historical theme is continued here and there throughout the multi-level pub. The first bar you get to is called the Three Hags Bar which features the Mary Queen of Scots lounge.

The Scott bar, which plays host to live bands, ceilidhs and comedians, sits down a set of stairs while a sports bar and dance floor is situated along a stone-walled corridor.

It takes a wee while to get your bearings and you really do get disoriented when you open a door and find yourself in a cinema. Yup, odd as it may seem, not only does Nicol Edwards have three bars and a dancefloor but it also has a mini-cinema where you can watch programmed films like Clockwork Orange and American Beauty. Or you can bring in your own movies. Just don't try getting staff to put on Debbie Does Dallas.

On the night we were in, the Three Hags and Mary Queen of Scots lounge was doing a lively business but the rest of it was quieter than a graveyard at midnight.

Nicol Edwards is close to a number of backpackers' hostels and they get a lot of young travellers in.

They still get a lot of locals who want nothing more than to make the most of the late licensing hours and have a drink and a shuftie around the dancefloor after midnight.

The only problem is, Nicol Edwards shuts at 3am, seven days, so stay till the bitter end and you don't have a ghost of a chance of making it to work the next day.

Nicol Edwards, 29-35 Niddrie Street, Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 556 8642

Opening hours: 4pm-3am, seven days

Drinks: Pint of lager, pounds 2.20; bottle of Becks, pounds 2.50; Budvar, pounds 2.90
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Title Annotation:Going Out
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 20, 2002
Words:512
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