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Ballater’s Old Royal Station shortlisted for coveted heritage award

Thursday October 31st 2019 at 10:02 AM


A historic Aberdeenshire rail station, which underwent a major refurbishment after it was destroyed by fire, has been shortlisted for a major heritage award.

Ballater’s Old Royal Station reopened to the public last year, four years after it was forced to close following a blaze which ripped through the building in May, 2015.

Aberdeenshire council spent £4.2 mil rebuilding and restoring the B-listed station, which was historically used by Royals travelling by train to their home at nearby Balmoral Castle.

It’s now been shortlisted in the National Rail Heritage Awards with judges describing the reconstruction as “an outstanding project in which all concerned can take great pride”.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in the Merchant Taylors Hall in London on December 4.

Gregory Beecroft said: “Although there was an insurance payout, that was not adequate to cover all of the work, so the resolve to restore the building at a time when there are severe constraints on council expenditure was particularly commendable.”

Fellow judge Edward McGloin added: “On the day of my visit the station had a vibrant feel and was busy throughout.

“It is great to see that four years on from the devastating fire the station is again at the centre of Ballater and its community. Well done to all involved in this very good restoration of this historic station.”

Special recognition was paid to the renovation of the Royal waiting room, which is now used as a private dining room, with judges describing it as a “jewel in the crown” and an “astonishing display of craftsmanship”.

The refurbished Royal waiting room.

50 firefighters were called to the station on May 12, 2015, after an electrical fault started a blaze in the historic landmark.

Around 90% of the station, including the shop, restaurant and a museum, was destroyed, although crews managed to save the replica Royal carriage, which was used by Queen Victoria and is now on show to the public.

Following the blaze, the council quickly committed to the restoration of the structure, working with partners including Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Household.

Architects Halliday Fraser Munro undertook the design work, restoring the station true to its original style by using 3D laser scanning and modelling to capture the exact size and proportions of timber mouldings and fretwork.

The project included the creation of a traditional tea room, a restaurant, gift shop and a small timeline outlining the history of the building. 

Aberdeenshire Provost Councillor Bill Howatson has paid tribute to all those who shared the vision and ensured the station was sympathetically restored.

He said: “Our officers, partners and councillors were united in their vision to deliver a restoration project that met community needs, was appropriate for the stature and historical importance of the station and recognised its role in supporting the local and regional economy.

“Once again visitors to Ballater are able to experience this important part of the town’s Royal heritage and history, in surroundings which are arguably improved on what went before the devastating fire back in 2015.

“The result is a restoration carried out to an extremely high standard which has now been shortlisted for the prestigious National Rail Heritage Awards and I wish our project every success in December.”

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