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Summer 2014 Bulletin
SPRING WHISKY FESTIVAL
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, trains ran from Thursday 1st May 2014 to Sunday 4th May 2014. The railway ran scheduled services on Thursday 1st May and Friday 2nd May in addition to our normal Saturday and Sunday services. Free whisky sampling and shortbread was available on the trains. Other special events in conjunction with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival also ran. The two photos above show the crowded platform at Dufftown and the Whisky Steward dispensing drams to the accompaniment of the travelling musicians. The musicians were, Ian Grigor (fiddle), Kirsty Walker (whistle) and Andy Walker (guitar).
This was the second year we had run a 1940’s event and based on the numbers from last year (2013) it was decided to run 4 coach trains. Spirit of Speyside and Spirit of Banffshire were coupled together and ran over the entire weekend. Most trains were busy but everyone got a seat on the train. The following photos show highlights from the weekend arranged in the order, Dufftown, the journey and Keith Town.
The Desert Rats had set up camp at Dufftown and the local farmer had turned up with some produce and tools.
The local farmer had also brought chickens and a Land Army Girl as well as some produce and tools. There was a big crowd at the displays.
New this year was a NAAFI van which was popular with volunteers, re-enactors and as will be seen later visitors as well.
As will be seen the new NAAFI van was popular with visitors as well.
Dufftown Station had its own PC patrolling, some evacuated children and members of the armed forces.
While this first photo is obviously of re-enactors it should perhaps remind us of how young some members of the armed forces were in the 1940s. Middle photo shows a then new Riley Falcon. The Home Guard were manning a sentry post at the entrance to the platforms, complete with portable air raid siren.
Two ladies at Dufftown station show contrasting 1940’s styles, the housewife and the town lady. Between the photos of the ladies is a 1940’s baby carriage.
On the journey two soldiers one in Desert Rat uniform and one from a highland regiment complete with kilt. Note Highland regiments wore the kilt into battle in the early days of the war and it was not till after Dunkirk that Highland regiments swopped kilts for trousers on active service. Middle photo shows 3 classic weapons from the 1940s, a Lee Enfield 303 rifle, a Bren gun and a Thompson sub machine gun. The British army used Thompson sub machine guns with a straight magazine as opposed to the circular magazine favoured by Chicago gangsters,
Keith Town Station. These 3 photos show a Morris 10 a 1940s designed car. Middle photo shows, unusually for 1940s a lady driver, and two evacuee children.
First photo some pictures from our 2013 1940s event. Middle the sign says it all. Right, front of an Anderson shelter. The Anderson shelter was a corrugated iron hut deigned to be placed on the ground or if possible half buried the rest covered in earth or sandbags to offer some protection from bombing raids.
From left to right. A perambulator from the 1940s. Posters about the Woman’s Land Army. Our own Land Army girl.
Some of the displays in the waiting room at Keith Town Station. Left, gas masks as issued to most of the population in the 1940s. Middle, cooking utensils, some of which will still be familiar today. Right, Washing equipment, the ironing board is still in use today but in a more modern style, the washing board and mangle now consigned to history and replaced with the washing machine and spin dryer.
At the outbreak of war children from the larger cities were evacuated to the country where it was hoped they would be safer from the anticipated air raids. On Thursday 12th June we held a special 1940s day for school children where they were invited to play the part of evacuees. The three photos show some of our “evacuees” having the displays in the waiting room explained to them. Many of the items were a novelty to the children some 70 years after they were in daily use just as some of the items in daily use today will be a novelty to the younger generation in 70 years time.
The Home Guard were again on duty at Keith Town Station. The children have the “Dig for Victory” campaign explained to them with the help of a vegetable plot on the platform at Keith Town station. Some tools, mainly carpenters, on display, many of these tools would still be familiar with perhaps their wooden parts replaced by plastic or iron.
Another two photos of the children having the “Dig for Victory” campaign explained to them. The girl in the right foreground of the middle picture has really put effort into acting the part of an evacuee including the cardboard box with string round her neck. In the 1940s the cardboard box would have contained her gas mask! Final photo is of the driver of the Sunday 15th June trains with his military escort. This came about as the scheduled driver for that day was sick and the 2nd man was promoted to driver and a volunteer, in Home Guard uniform, was drafted in as 2nd man.
KEITH TOWN STATION
In late 2013 contractors replaced all the ridge tiles and some roof tiles at Keith Town Station, the finials being finally fixed in January 2014. The roof is now looking quite smart.
In summer 2014, the exterior of Keith Town Station was repainted. The exterior repaint together with the roofing work carried out last season and the interior revamp and decorating undertaken two years ago means that it should remain in top condition for some years to come.
The material and contractors costs for the roofing work and the painting costs and materials for the exterior repaint were financed through a grant received from the Rural Environmental Action Project (REAPScotland). Our thanks to REAPScotland for the funding for these projects.
The above photograph, taken on 20/7/2014 shows the results of the work carried out.
PIE AND PINT
Saturday 28th June 2014. The Pie and Pint night, Evening Special and musical entertainment, a full train for this very successful event.
TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC
The weekend of 1st August to 3rd August 2014 was the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
There were Teddies at Dufftown station and even a few humans.
More Teddies in the Buffer Stop.
Teddies on the train even hitching a ride in the guard’s rucksack.
At Keith Town there were Teddies relaxing in the sunshine and again one or two humans were to be seen as well.
Drummuir Station has been a rather bleak place since British Railways closed the station, demolished the buildings and removed the sidings and one platform. The KDR own the remaining platform and the site of the removed platform plus some additional land where the engine shed used to stand before its removal to Dufftown. The railway re-erected station signs, provided a seat and noticeboard. Drummuir 21 Group, the village amenity group, have put in place a picnic area and the “Sidings Walk” behind the existing platform. Drummuir Walled Garden have put in place and maintained barrel planters on the platform and station area. Drummuir station is now a pleasant place on a sunny day, unfortunately the weather here in the north of Scotland can change very quickly and what started as a sunny day can swiftly turn into summer showers. Somewhere for travellers to shelter from bad weather was an obvious omission from the station. Much discussion took place between the railway and Drummuir 21 Group in 2013 and by 2014 plans were in hand to provide a shelter. Over the course of the 2014 operating season two of our volunteers John Liddle and Lawrie King constructed and erected a shelter on the platform at Drummuir. The following photographs show the story of the shelter.
The first photo shows the arrival of a freight train at Drummuir. The grey van contained tools and materials to construct the shelter. The next photo shows the framework of the shelter erected on the platform. The framework is concreted into the platform so time had to be allowed for the concrete to set before the shelter could be finished.
The shelter was finished in July and the above three photos show the shelter on a bright sunny 25th July. Left photo is the view looking towards Keith, mid photo shows the interior, complete with seating, of the shelter. Right photo is the view looking towards Dufftown.
The above photos show the shelter on its official opening date Saturday 20th September 2014. First picture shows the shelter with the opening ribbon stretched across the entrance. Next Picture shows (l to r) Lawrie King, John Liddle, Priscilla Gordon-Duff Chair of the Drummuir 21 Group and Rod Furr Chair of the Keith and Dufftown Railway Association. Last picture shows the train arriving from Dufftown for the opening ceremony.
Pictures above show the crowd on the platform for the opening ceremony, Priscilla Gordon-Duff cutting the ribbon to open the shelter and applause after the official opening.
Final two pictures show the opening party in front of the shelter while others are taking advantage of the shelter. Last view is looking towards Keith on a bright summer day with the shelter now available should the weather turn wet.
AUTUMN WHISKY FESTIVAL
During the Autumn Whisky Festival, trains ran from Friday 26th September 2014 to Sunday 28th September 2014. The railway ran scheduled services on Friday 26th September in addition to our normal Saturday and Sunday services. Free whisky sampling and shortbread was available on the trains. Other special events in conjunction with the Autumn Whisky Festival also ran. The following photos give a taste of our operations that weekend.
For Saturday 27th September 2014 Drum Major Bruce and Piper Adam joined in the whisky festival and were much appreciated by our other visitors.
First photo shows some of our visitors about to board the train at Dufftown, we will see more of them later. Next photo shows an amateur radio station in the yard at Dufftown, Amateur radio enthusiasts have a day, which coincides with the whisky festival, when they arrange temporary radio stations at railways and link up. Last photo shows the Line Manager flagging the train off from Dufftown accompanied by a whisky tour guide.
Here we have the Whisky Stewart and his assistants preparing the drams. Next Bruce and Adam aboard the train then the Whisky Stewart dispensing the drams.
Three photos of some of our passengers enjoying their drams.
More photos of some of our passengers enjoying their drams, including, in the middle, the group we last saw on the platform at Dufftown.
Hair of the dog? For some reason the whisky trains were very popular with our canine friends as well!
This dog doesn’t look too impressed with the dram on offer! Maybe it wasn’t their favourite malt? Final photo shows our friends from earlier being entertained by Adam the piper.
Even on Whisky Festival trains tickets still need to be clipped while the Whisky Stewart dispenses drams to the echo of the pipes.
These photos show Drum Major Bruce showing his mastery of the mace to the accompaniment of Piper Adam.
Final photos show the Whisky Stewart talking to some passengers on Keith Town platform after they have returned from a tour of Strathisla distillery. Drum Major Bruce in full uniform. Last photo shows that you have to be a true Scot to appreciate the music of the Great Highland Bagpipes!
Permanent Way work goes on all year round and so it was that on a wet Saturday 4th October 2014 the works train was out on the line.
The works train halted on the line at Towiemore straight and sleepers are being offloaded for the continuous job of sleeper replacement.
On the return from Towiemore a halt was made to deal with overhanging trees, another seemingly endless job.
Once the lopped tree had been cleared from the line the train could continue its return to Dufftown. Final photo shows the UDV rounding the curve at the end of the Fiddich viaduct hauling the Dogfish ballast wagon, the Welltrol now empty of sleepers, two grey vans and the Brake van from where this photo was taken.
At a Board meeting it was agreed that the following were the priority projects:
Short Term – To complete the loco shed by laying the floor and installing a second track within the shed.
Medium Term – To provide or reinstate 4 railway halts. These halts are still under discussion with all interested parties so no further details can be provided at this stage.
Long Term – To re-establish a rail connection at Keith Junction Station.
An appeal was launched in 2010 to move the modern shed then located at Drummuir to Dufftown. The shed was re-erected at Dufftown May 2012 and most of the work is now complete, indeed the shed has already proved its worth by enabling us to repaint and overhaul some stock. Installing the floor and laying a second track into the shed are now the priorities.
Collected:- £29,285 as at 8/11/2014
A very large and heart felt thank you to all who have contributed to the appeal. The appeal is now closed but any donations received for the shed will now be directed to the Track Appeal.
The Track Appeal has been set up to raise funds for the second track into the engine shed. The appeal takes the form of purchasing a sleeper, for £10, for the second track. The names of those purchasing a sleeper are recorded on a chart at Dufftown Station. To date (27/09/2014) £3,710 has been raised.
For details of the above use Appeals link to the left or click this link: Appeals
The Buffer Stop opened at the start of the season on Friday 18th April 2014 and closed on 28th September 2014. During the season the Buffer Stop serves tea, coffee, soup, sandwiches, cakes and scones. We enjoy serving booked parties, those using our trains or just popping in while passing. All are welcome to enjoy our good food at good prices.
The first photo above shows the Buffer Stop volunteers with the last two customers served on the final day of the season, 28th September 2014. The second photo shows the Buffer Stop volunteers on the last day of volunteer operation of the Buffer Stop. There are several other volunteers who turned out regularly to operate the Buffer Stop but who were not there on the final day. 28th September 2014 was a sad but momentous day in the history of the Buffer Stop, from next year the Buffer Stop will no longer be run by our volunteers but as a franchise operation. To all the volunteers, past and present, who have helped in any way in the Buffer Stop the Railway extends a warm thank you. No doubt many of the Buffer Stop volunteers will still be seen about the railway in a multitude of other operations.
The Buffer Stop, from small beginnings, grew and grew till it began to be very difficult for our small, dedicated, band of volunteers to cope with the demand. The small band of volunteers served for many years in the Buffer Stop but decided the time had come for them to turn the operation over to others. From 2015 the Buffer Stop will become a franchise operation. The new operation will be open for 6 days of the week, Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00am to 7.30pm for breakfast, lunch and evening meals, a takeaway service will also be available. Further details will appear on the web next year.
TUESDAY WORK PARTY
The Tuesday Work Party at Dufftown station has tended to concentrated on “light work” i.e. smaller tasks that tend to appear further down the list of priorities e.g. painting and keeping the environment tidy etc. However, of late they have been involved in more major work such as the refurbishment of our DMUs , the Brake Van, Permanent Way and a multitude of other tasks. We can find work suited to everyone’s ability. Works trains and training runs on our DMU also take place.
This is another reason why people should not trespass on the line at any time. We do not just run scheduled services as published in our timetable but works trains on any day of the week and at any time of the day. Many people assume that if there are no scheduled services on a day then there will be no trains but this is very wide of the mark. We can and do run works trains, training runs and line inspections on any day of the week and potentially at any time of the day. Please do not trespass on the line at any time.
Anyone interested in taking part in this group is asked to contact Alistair Coull on 01542 831295. There is always work for any pair of willing hands. Come along, learn something new or share your skills with others!