A community-led project to restore an Edwardian railway turntable has received a first-class accolade in this year’s Aberdeen Civic Society (ACS) awards.
Every year the ACS, a charity established to stimulate public interest and care for the Granite City’s character and history, celebrates the best civic projects carried out to make the area a better place to live and visit.
And 2019, the society has given its principal award to the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust for its work to help put Aberdeen “on the map” for rail history enthusiasts.
The trust, established in 2007, is dedicated to preserving and highlighting the historic turntable adjacent to Duthie Park which helped to turn around railway locomotives in Aberdeen, before it was abandoned by the national railway station.
Following years of effort, the trust has now completed its goal of returning the A-listed turntable back into use, and it is has already been used several times to turn steam locomotives that can now travel north to Aberdeen using the main railway tracks.
Dominic Fairlie, the chairman of the ACS, said: “It gives us great pleasure to give our principal award this year to the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust.
“The work done by the trust to bring the historic turntable back into use is inspirational, and is a great example of caring for our heritage and important buildings without it costing a fortune.
“Aberdeen is now on the map when it comes to national railway tours – a project that deserves our main awards.”
The ACS also highlighted two other major civic projects which came to fruition in 2019 as part of its annual awards – the refurbished Music Hall and the new P&J Live arena.
Mr Fairlie added: “The winners of commendations were strong contenders in our deliberations this year.
“The P&J Live event complex is huge, and will undoubtedly give Aberdeen presence when it comes to hosting events.
“The refurbishment work to Aberdeen Music Hall has been done sensitively, with a strong priority on improving access to a much-loved building in the heart of Aberdeen.
“Well done to them all.”
The Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust
The Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust has worked tirelessly since it was established in 2007 to bring Aberdeen’s rail history back to life.
The trust took over control of the remaining railway buildings and former turntable of the old Ferryhill locomotive depot with the dream of restoring the site to its former glory.
Its members hoped to transform it into a working heritage site to tell the story of rail travel in the north-east of Scotland.
As well as collecting the pieces of north-east railway history, including signs and parts from stations throughout the region, the trust has carried out a number of major projects.
Foremost among them has been the restoration of the 1906 Ransomes and Rapier locomotive turntable.
It finally brought the category A-listed structure back into use last summer, following decades of abandonment, and since then numerous steam locomotives have been able to visit Aberdeen thanks to the turntable’s availability.
Some of the classic trains that have come to Aberdeen include the Tornado and the Union of South Africa.
And in June, the trust’s chairman triumphed in the “Preserving the History of the Railway” category at the Rail Partnership Awards, sponsored by Network Rail.
The train depot is also home to the category B-listed Caledonian engine shed, which was completed in 1852.
The depot closed its doors in 1987.