Ballater Old Royal Station wins coveted railway heritage award

Aberdeenshire Council has celebrated success at this year’s National Rail Heritage Awards for the restoration of the fire-ravaged Ballater Old Royal Station.

The B-listed station, historically used by Royals travelling by train to their home at nearby Balmoral Castle, was destroyed by fire in May 2015 and carefully rebuilt and restored by the local authority before reopening in August of last year.

At an awards ceremony in the Merchant Taylors' Hall in London on Tuesday, December 4, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Jim Gifford and principal architect Craig Matheson received the prestigious South Eastern Commercial Restoration Award from HRH The Princess Royal.

Paying tribute to all those who had played a part in the restoration project, Craig Matheson and Marr Area Manager Janelle Clark said: “We are absolutely delighted that Aberdeenshire Council has received this coveted award as it recognises the massive commitment by the many partners who made the project such a success including our architects Halliday Fraser Munro, with Conservation Architect Georgina Allison, and main contractor Morgan Sindall Construction.

“It is also very important at this time to thank the community of Ballater for its fantastic support throughout the project and all those individuals and local organisations who helped piece together this historic jigsaw and breathe new life into the station.”

Judges who visited the station this summer said the £4.2 million reconstruction of the building was "most praiseworthy" and singled out the council's determination to see the works completed to a high level.
 
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."
 
Recalling his visit to Ballater, 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."
 
The judges singled out the renovation of the Royal waiting room – now used as a private dining room – as a "jewel in the crown" and an "astonishing display of craftsmanship" which could easily have merited its own entry for an award.
 
Following the devastating blaze ripped through the building in May 2015, officers quickly committed to the restoration of the structure, working with partners including Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Household.

Survey work included 3D laser scanning and modelling to capture the exact size and proportions of timber mouldings and fretwork allowing any new timbers to be as accurate as possible and reduce waste.

A key focus of the repair and conservation work was to retain and utilise as much of the original fabric as possible.

Ballater Old Royal Station was one of three North-East railway projects to be recognised at this week’s award, with the restoration of the turntable at Ferryhill in Aberdeen and the South Esk Viaduct refurbishment at Montrose also being recognised.