Vandals cause £10,000 of damage to historic royal tourist attraction

Around £10,000 of damage has been caused to a carriage at the Deeside Railway.
Around £10,000 of damage has been caused to a carriage at the Deeside Railway.

Vandals have caused around £10,000 worth of damage to a North-east tourist attraction .

Around a dozen windows on the Mark II British Rail  coach, a tourist attraction commemorating a railway line once used by the Royal family, were smashed in on Monday night.

The Deeside Railway in Aberdeenshire famously carried Queen Victoria on her travels to her Scottish estate at Balmoral. Generations of the monarchy followed in her footsteps when they used the picturesque route until the last Royal train pulled out of Ballater Station in 1965 shortly before the line was shut down completely.

It was not until around 30 years later that locomotives were seen again in the area when the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society reopened a section of track for short trips on classic engines.

And the group were left picking up the pieces yesterday after rocks were used to smash the reinforced windows in one of their old carriages.

Deeside Railway secretary Bill Halliday and membership secretary David Pearson.
Deeside Railway secretary Bill Halliday and membership secretary David Pearson.

Society secretary Bill Halliday said: “We had only brought the coach up here about a fortnight ago to start doing some work on it.

“Fortunately it is not one that we use for providing the service that we do, it’s one we bought about three years ago to add to our stock and bring up to scratch before putting it into service.

“It looks like they have been throwing large stones, as it takes a fair bit of force as these are safety windows which are double glazed. To break right through takes a lot of effort.

“It’s a shame they didn’t put their efforts into something more constructive.”

The volunteers use classic engines to take members of the public on a 20 minute journey through the heart of Royal Deeside.

David Pearson, an ex-British Rail employee and the society’s membership secretary, said the bill for replacing the windows will likely derail plans for an extension of the track towards the town of Banchory.

He said: “This is the worst damage we’ve ever suffered. We reckon it could be anything between £10,000 and £15,000.

“But the problem is that it’s an old coach, where are we going to find replacement windows?

“The only alternative is that we get a specialist glazer in to redo them but that will probably quadruple the cost.”

He added: “If anyone has any knowledge of who is responsible for this they should report them immediately.

“A lot of time, effort and cost has gone into the construction of this railway.”

Police are also appealing for anyone who can help trace those responsible to get in touch.

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