A coveted railway heritage award has been unveiled at Ballater Old Royal Station following an 18-month delay due to Covid.
Aberdeenshire Council received the South Eastern Commercial Restoration Award from The Princess Royal in December 2019 for the £4.2million of work completed to revive the attraction.
The B-listed station was destroyed by a fire in May 2015 and reopened in August 2018 following restoration works by the council and its partners.
Judges of the award, including Gregory Beecroft and Edward McGloin, said the reconstruction was “most praiseworthy” and singled out the council’s determination to complete the works to a high standard.
Mr 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.”
Mr 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.”
A royal history
The station was historically used by the royal family when they were travelling to Balmoral Castle and the royal waiting room has now been transformed into a private dining room.
The judges described this space as a “jewel in the crown” and “an astonishing display of craftsmanship” worthy of its own award.
The council and its partners, including Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Household, worked to retain and utilise as much of the original fabric as possible.
Survey work included 3D laser scanning and modelling to reduce waste and to ensure timber mouldings and fretwork were accurate.
Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson, cut the ribbon to officially open the rebuilt station in 2018 and returned to unveil the award plaque this week.
He said: “Thanks to the massive efforts of council staff, architects, contractors and a host of partners, the Ballater community and visitors to the town have once again been able to experience this important part of Royal heritage and history in surroundings which are arguably improved on what went before the devastating fire.
“The restoration was very sympathetic and the standard of workmanship exceptionally high which the National Railway Heritage Awards judging panel said merited this prestigious and very much appreciated accolade.”
‘Breathe new life into the station’
Janelle Clark, Marr area manager, paid tribute to everyone who played a part in the restoration project.
She said: “This award 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.
“We take this opportunity once again 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 for future generations to enjoy.”
The restoration at Ferryhill in Aberdeen and the South Esk Viaduct refurbishment at Montrose were also recognised by the award.