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Fire-hit Old Railway Station in Ballater celebrates first year since rising from the ashes

A royal landmark in Deeside has celebrated the end of its “incredible first year”, after it rose from the ashes of a devastating blaze.

The Old Railway Station in Ballater was historically used by the Royal Family when they were travelling by train to Balmoral Castle, before it was shut down as a result of the UK-wide Beeching cuts in 1966.

The vintage venue remained popular with visitors to the Deeside town thereafter, but in May 2015, was all but razed to the ground in a major fire.

However, after years of hard work, the station was officially reopened on August 20, 2018, with a range of features including a tourist centre, public library, shop and The Carriage bistro, cafe and tearoom.

Ballater’s Old Royal Station reopens to the public – three years after devastating fire left it in ruins

The Carriage eatery was founded by The Prince’s Foundation, the charity of the Duke of Rothesay, which also opened the village’s Rothesay Rooms restaurant in 2016.

Both of the new facilities are designed to drive tourism to Ballater, as well as provide employment and training opportunities for the local community, which was left facing  significant challenges after the fire and widespread damage caused by Storm Frank.

In its first year, 2,720 visitors have enjoyed afternoon tea at The Carriage, with 3,869 opting for an evening of dining in the bistro.

Carolina Cochrane, group manager of The Carriage and Rothesay Rooms, said: “It’s been an incredible first year for The Carriage, for which I am very grateful.

“Ballater is such a beautiful village and The Carriage is such a great place to work.

“We are lucky to have a great team working at both The Carriage and Rothesay Rooms, and I am very proud of all we have achieved during the first full year.

VIDEO: 117-year-old newspapers discovered in fire-struck Aberdeenshire station

“The Old Royal Station has always been a busy tourist destination, but now that our executive chef Ross Cochrane at the Rothesay Rooms across the road has won a series of prestigious food industry awards and the resident has made it into the Michelin Guide, we have been put on the map for our food as well.”

Popular Highland Games compere Robert Lovie, the deputy executive director of the Princes Foundation, said: “It has been truly wonderful to see how popular The Carriage has become over the past year.

“The Old Railway Station has always been such an important part of Ballater’s rich cultural heritage, and it is very rewarding to see people enjoying it again.”

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