Old Royal Station : A Tribute To Royalty
The charming village of Ballater is located eight miles to the east of Balmoral Castle along the River Dee in Scotland. The village is the nearest settlement, and railway depot, to the famed Royal castle and the Old Royal Station in Ballater stands as a reminder of days gone by, serving as a Tourist Information Center and museum highlighting the links between the grand old station and Royalty.
In 1866 the Deeside Railway built its station in Ballater to welcome the first railway to the area. Prince Albert had purchased Balmoral Castle for Queen Victoria in 1852 and the new railway proved to be a very convenient means of travel for the Royal residents, as well as their guests and visitors. History reveals that much of the prominent royalty of the 19th century passed through the Ballater railway station at some point in time. Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, was among these royal travelers when he paid a visit to the area in 1896.
The Tourist Information Center and shop at the Old Royal Station is freely accessible and for a small admission fee, visitors can talk a walk along the platform and view the exhibition “Royalty and Railways” focusing on the British Royalty, and Queen Victoria in particular. Previously the display featured a two dimensional replica of a railway carriage, but since early in 2008 a true to scale replica of the carriage in which Queen Victoria traveled to Ballater in 1869 has been on display. The original carriage is on display at the National Railway Museum in York. With the station having said farewell to the last passenger train on 28th February 1966, the arrival of the carriage was the first time in forty years that the railway station has received a real train.
Visitors may board the Royal Carriage at the one end to get a look inside at the opulence and attention to detail of the interior. Life-sized figures of Queen Victoria and one of her daughters, along with a black Labrador and accompanied by background conversation, give the setting a life-like atmosphere. While the replica Royal Carriage has enhanced the Old Royal Station, visitors readily agree that the highlight of a visit to this unusual museum is the Royal Waiting Room, which has been refurbished and restored to reflect the elegance of Queen Victoria’s day. Figures of the Queen, her lady-in-waiting and another servant add to the realism, and visitors can check out the washroom and wood-paneled Royal Loo. Life-sized passengers and a luggage porter battling with an overloaded trolley add character to the Old Royal Station platform which also features a series of interactive games, information panels and other items from the Victorian era.
While the Old Royal Station may no longer enjoy the hustle and bustle of trains and passengers coming and going, it represents an era in history that many look back on with nostalgia and fondness and is well worth a visit.