Ballater fire update- Historic Scotland meet council officers at site

Fire at the Old Station in Ballater this morning
Fire at the Old Station in Ballater this morning

Historic Scotland are meeting with Aberdeenshire Council today at the site of a fire which destroyed one of Deeside’s most iconic buildings.

The B-listed Old Royal Station at Ballater, which was regularly used by the holidaying Royal family, before the Beeching cuts in 1968, was destroyed in the early hours of Tuesday May 19.

The council hopes to begin reconstruction of its buildings on the site, which were left in a “dangerous state” following the still unexplained fire.

A council spokesperson said: “It is a popular destination for visitors to the area due to its Royal connections, and the council can confirm it has a reinstatement policy for the building.

“The buildings have been leased to VisitScotland for a number of years and housed a Visitor Information Centre, restaurant, museum, clothes shop and photography business.

“Due to the listed status of the buildings, Historic Scotland has to be consulted on any proposals, but Aberdeenshire Council is committed to rebuilding, retaining original features wherever possible.”

Marr Area Manager, Janelle Clark, is leading a group of officers from services across the council, including property, economic development and planning.

She said: “Any plans for a rebuild of the Old Royal Station will require Listed Building Consent to ensure the new building remains appropriate and sympathetic to its original character and we are working with colleagues in planning and with Historic Scotland to establish the next steps.

“We understand the local community is keen to see this wonderful building restored but this is the start of what will be a long process and I ask for their patience as we work to create the most appropriate plan of action going forward.”

Conditional and structural surveys of the building have been carried out and an assessment is being made of what can be salvaged.

Contractors have been on site to make the building safe, which will allow affected businesses onto the site.

A replica Royal carriage which was a popular feature of the museum survived and has been protected while an alternative temporary home can be found for it.

Security fencing around the site will be replaced with hoarding and the local community, businesses and schools will be involved in creating artwork to enhance the site while work continues.

Once the way forward has been agreed it is likely to take between 18-24 months to reconstruct, depending on the scope of the works.

Arrangements are being made for the temporary accommodation of the museum’s undamaged display cases. The Visitor Information Centre has been temporarily moved to the Cairngorm National Park Authority offices in Ballater.

An ongoing Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investigation has yet to determine the cause of the fire.