Probus Club talk on rail history

Ellon Probus Club president Norman Davidson welcomed Keith Jones as the guest speaker at the meeting on February 26.

Keith, now retired, is a member of the Great North of Scotland Railway Association and dedicated his talk to the railways of the NE of Scotland.

From 1850 onwards, railways multiplied throughout Moray and Aberdeenshire. Small rural and coastal communities were introduced to a mode of transport that allowed unprecedented access to markets and mobility for people and produce.

Railway companies also exploited the tourist trade, such as the Deeside Line which allowed ready access to scenic vistas.

They also built large, exclusive hotels at resort and spa centres. The railway hotel at Cruden Bay was typical of the grandeur of its time.

Where not feasible or economically viable to build a railway, the railway companies employed fleets of busses (charabancs) to ferry people between the railway station and their destinations.

These charabancs evolved into an ever more efficient road haulage system that ultimately took trade away from the railways, rendering them less competitive.

Post-1945, the railways were nationalised but by the 50s they continued to suffer a lack of business. By the 60s many were operating at a loss and the government appointed the now infamous Dr Beeching to identify the uneconomic railways, which were later closed down. Throughout Buchan and Moray the tracks of former railways can be widely seen.

The vote of thanks was given by Fred Crawford. The next meeting is on March 12.