31 October 2019

Ballater's Old Royal Station shortlisted for prestigious railway heritage award

Ballater's Old Royal Station, which was rebuilt and restored by Aberdeenshire Council following a devastating blaze four years ago, has been shortlisted in the coveted National Rail Heritage Awards.

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.

Formally unveiled by Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson in August of last year following a £4.2 million redevelopment, judges have described it as "an outstanding project in which all concerned can take great pride".
 
The award ceremony will take place in the Merchant Taylors' Hall in London on December 4.
 
Judges who visited the station this summer said the 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.

Architects Halliday Fraser Munro undertook the design work to faithfully restore the station and worked with main contractor Morgan Sindall Construction who used 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.
 
The initial project was expected to be completed in late 2017, however some funding sources did not come to fruition and revised reports were approved by councillors which resulted in a delay to the opening, as well as an increase in the overall cost.

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."