Fit for a Queen: Royal station restored three years after devastating blaze

A Royal train station has been restored to its former glory – three years after it was destroyed by a blaze.

Ballater Royal Station was devastated by fire following an electrical fault in 2015.

Aberdeenshire Council pledged to rebuild the station using old plans and photographs as guides.

The station was finally opened by Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson who cut the ribbon on the project yesterday.

He said: “I think it sends out a real signal because people have had a really rough time with the storm and the fire.

“This is an iconic part of the community, reaching right back into history, but we’re bringing it up to the modern day.

“A vast amount of work has been done to take it forward, to reflect the old station and what it meant to the community.

“I think this will be very much welcomed by the local community.

“This is a valuable community asset, and the council wanted to commit to making sure that an iconic building, and part of our history, was brought back to life for wide public enjoyment.”

The station was converted to include the royal waiting room in 1886, under the express instructions of Queen Victoria.

The royal family would make regular trips through Ballater on their way to nearby Balmoral Castle. The final journey for the royals through the village took place in 1965.

Continuing the royal connection, a restaurant inside the station, The Carriage, was opened by the Prince’s Foundation.

The charity was set up by Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, to create “harmonious communities”.

Robert Lovie, the deputy executive director of the Prince’s Foundation, said the station has been given the “royal seal of approval”.

“The challenge was to create a feel inside like people were actually on the platform of a working station,” he said.

“The duke has been kept involved throughout the process.

“He can actually remember arriving at Ballater as a child on his holidays, so he has great memories of that.

“He felt that it had to be done absolutely right and give the people of Royal Deeside back what they’d lost.

“I think that he is very happy with how it has turned out.”

Businesses are hopeful that the station, which will also include a VisitScotland tourist information hub and the newly relocated Ballater Library, will help to increase tourism.

Erek Skene, the part owner of Dee Valley Confectioners, also located in Station Square, said: “Hopefully it will bring more people up to this area of the village.

“It’s good for us here and for the whole village. Hopefully we’ll get a boost.”

Alan Yule, the owner of A.B. Yule newsagents in the village, said: “It’s lovely, I hope it brings people to us.

“It’s been a construction site for three years, so it’s been a bit of a mess, but it’s looking very lovely.”

Jo Robinson, the north-east regional director for VisitScotland, said: “This centre represents one of 26 across Scotland and it allows people to come and get some information and inspiration about what to do in the area.

“The centre is a real hub, they work with tourism-based businesses in the local area, so they’ll tell the centre what they’ve got going on.”

Councillor Geva Blackett, who represents Ballater, said: “It’s the heart of Ballater which really makes it the heart of Deeside.

“This is where visitors will come to gather information about what they can do. We’ve got an amazing library which will now be open more.

“Hopefully the visitor centre will encourage people to visit the other shops and other parts of the village more.”

To ensure the accuracy of the station, a conservation architect was hired, who combed through historical documents, plans and photographs to help recreate the station as it once was.