Travel Back in Time With the Alford Valley Railway
The expanding British railway network reached the town of Alford in 1859, and as it had for many small towns and villages in the country, the railway brought hope, expansion and prosperity. Cuts to the British railways in 1965, led to the Alford Valley Railway being closed down in 1966. With the closure, came the end of an era, and the railway lay dormant in Alford for many years. But a group of volunteers were patiently biding their time, to breathe new life into the railway and to transform it into an interactive exhibit and historical attraction in Scotland.
Led by James Gordon, the band of volunteers who were passionate about the railway, started working on the restoration of the railway line and the collection of equipment for the 2 gauge railway, in 1979. His vision was to create a working railway to enhance the opening of the Grampian Transport Museum. At first the Alford Valley Railway volunteers, after receiving permission, began to build the line that covers the landscape for approximately three kilometers, from Haughton Park Station to Murray Park. The new Alford Valley Railway opened in 1980 and offered the public rides in a coach that seated twenty seven passengers, pulled by a 1930 Lister diesel engine. The next goal was to restore the original line that once linked Haughton Park with Alford. This was accomplished by 1984, and the Murray Park line later became redundant.
In 2001 a new Steam Outline Diesel engine was bought for the Alford Valley Railway line, through fund raising, and aptly named the James Gordon. Today, there are three locomotives and two coaches that take passengers on a picturesque journey from the Alford Valley Railway Station, past the golf course, over beautiful natural scenery and through the breathtaking trees that lead to Haughton Park. Volunteers still operate the Alford Valley Railway and passengers are encouraged to visit the Alford Valley Railway Station, as it has been transformed into a magnificent transport museum.
On entering the Alford Valley Railway Station, visitors will feel like they have stepped back in time. The 1900 ticket office, original wooden furniture, spectacular displays, a waiting room and scale models, allows the visitor to enter the early days of locomotive transport and visually appreciate the changes that technology has brought about. Visitors can also view the engine shed near the museum, as it is home to the engines and is where they are serviced and maintained. One of the engines is particularly special to the Alford Valley Railway. It is a steam engine named Saccharine that was donated to the railway by a sugar plantation in South Africa. Built in 1914, the engine was originally used to transport sugar cane, but now happily takes passengers on a journey of history and enjoyment.
There are many railways in Scotland, but none as exciting, fascinating and filled with adventure, as the Alford Valley Railway. Special days and events are often organized and it is as much fun for adults as it is for the younger generation. It is most certainly an attraction that steams over with enjoyment.