Prince Charles, or Duke of Rothesay as he is known in Scotland, will have a chance next week to see where some of the money from the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation has been spent. He will be visiting the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society at Milton on Crathes, Banchory in Kincardineshire. Sadly, in August 2015, vandals caused damage to various items of rolling stock, especially a Mark 2 coach smashing its double-glazed windows and ruining a nearby railway locomotive; the cost of the damage was more than £10,000.
The Duke donated through the fund and that, together with the positive response, meant that work could begin cleaning up, restoring and repairing the damage. This project has now been completed by a core of volunteers and the support of others, to date, the restoration work has cost £15,000.
The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society was formed just over 20 years ago by some like-minded railway enthusiasts to explore the possibility of re-opening part of the historic Royal Deeside line between Crathes and Banchory with hopes that the line between Ballater and Crathes can be restored. The Society registered as a charity in 1998, and today its membership stand at around 250 of which 35 are active volunteers. They have opened a mile section of track in a beautiful setting running alongside the River Dee; the return journey takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes from and to their award-winning station.
The station at Milton was previously at Oldmeldrum and was removed and renovated by the society. For this, they received a highly commended award in the National Railway Heritage Awards. The current challenge of the society is to extend the line on the Banchory along the original trackbed which will double the length of line that can be used. The original line was utilised by the Royal Family and their visitors to Balmoral Castle, until 1966 when the line was axed under the Beeching Report.
When the Duke visits the railway, he will meet members and volunteers of the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Trust and the restoration team before seeing the restored carriage and unveiling a plaque to mark the visit. He will then fulfil many young boys dream by driving a steam locomotive.