Hopes Ballater station will rise from ashes

The gutted remains of Ballater railway station following the fire. Picture: Nicol Rosie
The gutted remains of Ballater railway station following the fire. Picture: Nicol Rosie
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THE damage caused by a ferocious fire that destroyed a Highland railway station used by Queen Victoria has been revealed in a new report.

The wooden B-listed building based in Ballater in Royal Deeside was almost completely destroyed after the blaze broke out at night in May.

Ballater station ablaze. Picture: Contributed

Ballater station ablaze. Picture: Contributed

Nearly 50 firefighters battled to save the tourist attraction, which was built near the Queen’s holiday home at Balmoral, but much of the inside of the building was completely destroyed.

The new report shows that only part of a vestibule and fireplaces remain on the west side of the station and the roof completely collapsed in the centre of the building.

Trusses have been damaged in the platform canopy where a replica royal carriage was displayed and the roof was unstable and liable to collapse.

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Decorative panelling and the original stained glass windows in the waiting room built for Queen Victoria also suffered extensive damage as well as external materials on either side of the porte cochere (carriage porch).

The report, which will go before councillors at a meeting next week, discusses the preferred option for restoring the building.

It states: “Following discussions surrounding condition and structural report, officers preferred option is to clear of all areas destroyed by fire along with remaining elements of platform canopy forming display area which formed part of an extension in 2000-1.

“This option would result in only area E, comprising Waiting Room and Visitor Information Centre, being retained with this being the only part of original station building remaining which dates back to its construction in 1866-86.

“Planning have reviewed and liaised with Historic Scotland and Cairngorm National Park Authority and have established that proposed works comprising demolition of platform canopy, clearing of areas destroyed by fire and erection of temporary enclosure proposal over remaining section can be undertaken as part of emergency repair work to protect and preserve building from further damage and deterioration.”

The cost of clearing debris, removing the remaining platform canopy and building a temporary enclosure to protect the remaining building will be £150,000, paid for by insurers. It is not yet known how much the refurbishment will cost.

All remaining exhibits relating to the Royal Family and other historical artefacts have now been removed from the site and are being stored elsewhere.

The Ballater station was opened in October 1866 by the Great North of Scotland Railway and was the nearest station to Balmoral Castle. It was believed to be the largest wooden building ever built by the railway ­operators.

The tourist information centre was housed in the original waiting room designed for Victoria which was based next to a replica of the 15 tonne saloon railway carriage used by the ­royals.

The railway service to Ballater was closed in 1966.