Ballater’s Old Royal Station officially opened to the public on Monday when Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson cut a ribbon to mark the completion of the revamped building.
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 has been rebuilt by Aberdeenshire Council. Popular with visitors to the Royal Deeside area, there was anticipation in the town ahead of the opening.
Mr Howatson was joined at the ceremony by Aberdeenshire councillors and officials and importantly as well as members of the local community who have been involved in and supportive of the project.
Following completion of building works, fit-out took place in July, with the project team working hard to ensure the facility is open during the summer season. A mix of public uses occupies the recreated station – a VisitScotland information centre, a restaurant and tearoom run by The Prince’s Foundation and an Aberdeenshire Council public library – as well as the Royal waiting room and carriage.
There is also a new space extending along the old platform and over the tracks where the Royal carriage sits, taking the form of railway sheds, mixing Royal heritage with local history. The Royal Waiting Room interior has been carefully repaired by specialists to ensure the quality is equal to that lost in the fire. As much of the original fabric as possible has been retained.
External works to form Station Square have been complete for some time and it is open to traffic, also forming a destination point for the Deeside Way.
Mr Howatson said: “I know the community is very much looking forward to the reopening of the station and I’m happy to be involved in the culmination of such an important project, which has involved a lot of hard work by a large number of people.
“Once again visitors to Ballater will be 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. I have to thank Historic Environment Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority for their input, and I know our partners at Aberdeenshire Libraries, VisitScotland and The Prince’s Foundation are very much looking forward to contributing to community life, as well as welcoming the wide range of visitors drawn to this beautiful part of the world.”