Firefighters were last night praised for their efforts to save the Old Royal Station’s most prized artefact.
A replica of a royal carriage, used by Queen Victoria for her trips to Balmoral Castle, was installed at the museum in 2008 and has proved hugely popular with visitors.
But despite yesterday’s fire destroying about 90% of the former station building, the crews were able to save the carriage.
David Rout, senior fire officer for Aberdeenshire and Moray, said the teams had recognised the “cultural and historic importance” of the building, and used their local knowledge to tackle the fire the best way they could to protect it.
He said: “Their local knowledge allowed for a clearly identified plan to put in place firefighting and salvage tactics and I’m pleased to say they managed to save the royal carriage and other parts of the museum.”
Last night a spokeswoman for Visit Scotland – which lease the Old Royal Station building from Aberdeenshire Council and runs not only the museum, but a tourist information point from it – said a site visit would be carried out to fully examine the damage to the attraction.
She said: “At this early stage, the replica royal carriage appears to be intact, largely due to the excellent efforts of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, but closer inspection will obviously need to be made to see whether any long-lasting damage may have been sustained.
“A site visit will be made when it is deemed safe to do so.”
The £450,000 carriage was installed at the museum in 2008, after Prince Charles suggested it would be an ideal way to celebrate the royals’ links with the Deeside railway line.
The saloon carriage was used by Queen Victoria on her journeys between Windsor and Ballater in the late 1800s.
The original carriage is housed at the National Railway Museum in York, but visitors are not allowed to inside.
However, at Ballater, visitors could explore the replica version of Queen Victoria’s sitting room, dressing room and bedroom in the 34ft-long carriage.
Visitors could also pop into the royal waiting room, as well as a washroom and royal loo.
The museum also featured two display cabinets containing models of Deeside line trains, historic artefacts and photographs of the railway line.