Royal visitor drives Deeside steam train

The Prince prepares to take control of the steam train
The Prince prepares to take control of the steam train

Prince Charles has driven a steam train on the same Deeside line he travelled on as a child.

The Duke of Rothesay was visiting the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society at Milton of Crathes to see a restored carriage his foundation had helped to fund.

The restored carriage bears the name Birkhall

The restored carriage bears the name Birkhall

Vandals struck at the station in August, 2015, and Charles made a donation through the Prince of Wales’s Chariable Foundation towards the cost of the £15,000 of repairs to the Mark 2 coach.

Driver James West showed him the controls and said he was a “very good” driver on the short journey on a reconstructed section of the historic line towards Banchory and back.

He added: “I never thought I’d teach the future King to drive a stream train. He’s driven similar trains before, so kind of understood how they work.

“We chatted on the way down the line about how he’d travelled on the line as a child and he never believed he would travel on it again.

The Prince is greeted by youngsters from Hill of Banchory School

The Prince is greeted by youngsters from Hill of Banchory School

“He took the controls and did all the driving. I did the braking as we approached the platform. His driving was very good.”

The Prince was greeted by enthusiastic pupils from Hill of Banchory School before meeting railway group members and volunteers, and leaders of the restoration team.

He unveiled a plaque on the side of the carriage bearing the name Birkhall.

Restoration project leader Bill Halliday said the Prince’s donation had given the impetus to kickstart the renovation and helped draw in more public contributions, and said the royal visit was “absolutely fantastic”.

He added: “It was a great end to what started off as a devastating incident with the vandalism. This was the perfect completion for us.”