Prince Charles was seen this Monday looking very cheerful as he stood in the engine room of a classic gauge steam and diesel hauled locomotive he helped to restore after the railway had suffered extensive damage at the hands of local vandals.
Volunteers at the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society were shocked to discover in August 2015 that various parts of the engine had been significantly damaged whilst in storage, in particular, the double-glazed windows in the Mark 2 carriage and a nearby locomotive engine. The total costs of the damages were estimated to have been in excess of £10,000.
Through The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, Prince Charles was able to donate a significant sum towards restoration and repair costs, which allowed for an immediate start on repairing and cleaning up the damage caused by the vandals. A core team of volunteers were on head to spearhead the effort, along with support from various other channels, and in total, the Royal Deeside Railway was able to raise £15000 towards the project.
During a visit to the railway, the extent of the repairs were unveiled to the Prince of Wales personally, who was also delighted to meet the team behind its maintenance and restoration. As part of the proceedings, His Royal Highness also unveiled a small commemorative plaque to mark the project and spoke with students from the nearby Hill of Banchory School. Onlookers were then delighted as the Prince took to the engine room himself and took the locomotive for a brief journey along the tracks before departing.
The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society was formed twenty years ago by railway enthusiasts to explore the possibility of re-opening some of the disused sections of track for public tourism and historic heritage. It was also hoped that a line between Crathes and Banchory could also be restored. Registered as a charity in 1998, it now has a membership of around 250 people, of which 35 are active volunteers in preserving the line.