>> 14 February 2017
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside SNP councillor Geva Blackett has hailed the start of the project to reinstate Ballater’s popular Old Royal Station, destroyed by fire nearly two years ago.
The B-listed building, owned by the council, was historically used by the Royal Family travelling to nearby Balmoral Castle and was hit by a fire which broke out in May 2015.
The building had been leased to VisitScotland for the last 15 years and housed a Visitor Information Centre, restaurant, museum, clothes shop and photography business.
Although much of the building was severely damaged by the fire, a replica Royal carriage survived, as well as various undamaged display cases.
Aberdeenshire Council committed to rebuilding the station and subsequently submitted a successful planning application to the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
There will be changes to how the internal space will be used – both the Visitor Information Centre and the restaurant will return and these will be joined by a library and an enhanced exhibition space. The Royal Carriage will be reinstalled as one of the main attractions.
The project, expected to cost in the region of £3million, is expected to be completed in December of this year, all being well.
The principle elevations of the original building will be reinstated matching the Victorian architecture and detailing, including Queen Victoria’s Waiting Room.
Commenting, Cllr Geva Blackett said:
Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal marked the start of the project by cutting the first turf with a ceremonial spade and wheelbarrow used to start the construction of Ballater Railway Station by the Great North of Scotland Railway Company in 1865. He said:
“However, I can see real progress with many shops open for business again and more and more residents returned to their homes. Therefore, it is great to see another milestone achieved through the start of the construction work to redevelop the Old Royal Station.”
Morgan Sindall area director, Mark McBride, said:
“It’s our first contract awarded through Aberdeenshire Council’s main contractor framework and we’re pleased to get work underway.
“Ballater Old Royal Station has a rich cultural history and is integral to the region’s tourism industry. We’re mindful of the need to retain as many of the original heritage features as possible during the restoration process and confident that the finished building will be well received.”
The station was opened in October 1866 by the Great North of Scotland Railway and was the nearest station to Balmoral Castle. It closed in February 1966.