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The Doric Columns

Aberdeen (Joint) Station

& The Denburn Valley Line

The Deeside Railway had opened in 1853 and amalgamated with the Great North of Scotland Railway by 1876 (the latter had leased the line since 1862). Its route was one of the region's most scenic railway lines stretching from Aberdeen to Ballater. The Caledonian Railway had absorbed the Aberdeen Railway in 1866. In order to connect the Caledonian and Great North of Scotland systems it was proposed that a line should run from Kittybrewster, joining with the Caledonian Railway line near Ferryhill. The construction of a railway from Kittybrewster to a new station on Guild Street, the Joint Station began in 1864.

The Joint Railway Station for the Caledonian Great North of Scotland, and Deeside lines, was opened 1867, and is a very handsome erection, costing about £26,000. It is 500 feet long, and 102 feet broad, with the side walls 32 feet high. The arched roof of curved lattice-iron ribs, covered with slate, zinc, and glass, is all in one span, rising 72 feet high, and is very light and airy.

When the Joint Station opened in 1867, it was thought to be of grand design. The original station was built by John Morgan and consisted of 3 through tracks with 1 long through platform and 2 bay platforms at each end.  John Morgan, 1844-1907, became an apprentice builder in 1862. In his long and varied career he was responsible for a number of notable buildings, including the frontage to Marischal College, Canada House, the Central Library and the Northern Insurance Building (known locally as the Monkey House). He was also a councillor from 1885-1892, during which time he was involved in planning Rosemount Viaduct.  The Joint Station consisted of a main booking office in the centre, with the booking offices for the Caledonian Railway and 'jointly the Great North of Scotland Railway at either side.  The tracks had been widened on the approach from the South. An early criticism was that the station acted as a form of wind tunnel, making it draughty for passengers.  By the 1860's there were a number of rival routes serving Aberdeen's Stations.


The Main Station currently standing was built as Aberdeen Joint Station  between 1913–16, replacing an 1867 structure of the same name (Joint Pass) on the same site. The Station and the new Denburn Valley Line enabled the main line from the South and the commuter line from Deeside to connect with the line from the North. The lines from the south had previously terminated at the adjacent Guild Street Station. Even this had not been Aberdeen's first railway station, that distinction belonging to a previous terminus a short way south at Ferryhill. After the construction of the Joint Station, Guild Street Station became a Goods Station. Some of its tracks remain, but the vast majority of the site was cleared in 2005. Prior to the construction of the Joint Station, lines from the North had terminated at Waterloo Quay. a short but inconvenient distance along the edge of the Harbour. This too became a Goods Station after the construction of the Joint Station. There is no longer a station at the site, but a goods service runs approximately weekly to industrial operations there. The Waterloo tracks join the North-South connecting Denburn Valley Line in the Kittybrewster area of the City, where the very 1st terminus of the lines from the north had briefly been, before extension and the building of the Waterloo Station. As far North as Inverurie, these follow the route of the Aberdeenshire Canal which had been purchased and filled in by the The Great North of Scotland Railway. As a result of the grouping of Railway companies  Aberdeen came under the auspices of the LNER.

GNSR Gallery

Joint Station

Early Joint Station with the Station Hotel on top right with St Nicholas Kirk in Background.

J A Parker, Engineer, 1913-20. Long single-storey railway station facing East, with near central double height Beaux-Arts 5-bay polygonal entrance pavilion with full length cast iron cantilevered canopy and asymmetrical classical granite pavilions to North and South. Yellow sandstone to central pavilion; granite ashlar to outer pavilions. Modern extensions to South (2006).  Entrance elevation to East altered to ground; mid-height semi-circular window openings with fan-light glazing and small paired deep-set square windows above. Bays separated by paired Doric Columns. Deep dentilled cornice. Stepped parapet.  Spacious concourse with impressive shallow segmental-arched glass and steel roof with glazed end screens. Glass and steel awnings to platforms supported on cast-iron columns and with decorative timber valances. Some flat-arched openings to block to East. Some glass and timber doors. Timber lined bridge giving access to platforms at West. Internal spaces to buildings comprehensively modernised.  Roadbridge:: mid 19th century. To North, on Guild Street, over railway tracks. Riveted and latticed 2-span steel bowstring bridge with flat-span plate-girder pedestrian bridge either side to North and South. Corniced and panelled, granite terminal piers. 


This station was the last major station to be built within Scotland. The use of sandstone as a building material for the entrance hall is unusual in Aberdeen, where granite is the more common building material. The large, open concourse with its open-frame steel roof is a particularly fine feature of this station, giving both light and space to the internal part of the station. The entrance pavilion is well-detailed with interesting dentil and column decoration and the large semi-circular windows are a particularly striking feature.  Known as the Joint Station, this station replaced an earlier one built in 1867. Previous to this, there had been 2 railway companies operating within Aberdeen, the Caledonian Railway and the Great North of Scotland Railway. Each had their own station and it was not unusual for GNSR to refuse to hold the trains if connecting services from the South via the Caledonian Railway were late and to close their station. The Joint Station of 1867 brought these 2 companies under the same roof, but quickly became inadequate for the amount of traffic and a replacement was begun in 1913. The building of the new station was entrusted to Mr J A Parker, the Chief Engineer of the Great North of Scotland Railway, as they owned the majority of the previous station. Although the work was begun in 1913, and the platforms were in use by the following year, the station was not completed until after the 1st World War. The station originally had 4 long through platforms and 10 bays, but these were reduced in the 1980s when the Northern end of the Station was refurbished to provide car parking and increased commercial space. 

A view of the new Joint Station, taken in the 1930's

The Foundation Stone of the new Joint Railway Station building was laid on 28 May 1913 and by July the following year all the new platforms were in use. 190 men worked on the demolition of the old building and construction of this one. The bulk of the material is Freestone from Northumberland but some Kemnay granite is used. The concourse has a glass and steel roof measuring 245 by 97 feet. Either side of the train indicator board stairs provided access to the suburban lines. Behind the main bookstall, were the stationmaster and telegraph offices. There were separate parcel offices for the Caledonian Railway and the North British Railway. A modern feature was an electric dock system synchronized from a master dock in the booking office.

The Joint station became the terminus for 2 independent railways. Later a 3rd company, the North British Railway Company, based in Edinburgh, shared the Caledonian tracks between Kinnaber (near Montrose) and Aberdeen. 

By 1908 locomotives of the Inverness based Highland Railway, a project were to be seen on the through trains to Aberdeen. By the turn of the century the station had become inadequate to deal with the increased volume of traffic, including the suburban services to Dyce and Culter.

Arrangements were introduced for the reconstruction of the Joint Station, which was completed in 1915.


The suburban service was 1st to benefit from the rebuild in 1909 with the Suburban Booking Office built on the corner of Bridge Street and Guild Street. The location enhanced the convenience for regular passengers. The office was connected to platforms 6 to 9 by a footbridge. Of the new platforms, number 7 and 8 were for the Dyce trains and number 9 for those for Culter Station. Inside the booking office was a miniature departure board and a book stall. The station then had 12 platforms, both through and terminal, with the station building having a classical 5-bay, 2 storey frontage made of sandstone. Inside the booking hall the counters had curved wood panels and curved roof trusses. The platforms had steel frames with individual awnings, supported by cast iron columns.  In 1923 the Great North of Scotland Railway was absorbed into the Northern Scottish area of London and North Eastern Railway. They did little to change the secondary routes.

On 28th January 1937 it was announced in the Press and Journal that after April 1937 the suburban train service was to end.

Fourteen stations closed as a result of rivalry from bus services and waning popularity of the train service. This saw the closure of the Suburban Booking Office and marked the end of a chapter in transportation history for Aberdeen. The building survived as a store for railway purposes and was later renovated into commercial premises.

The Station was officially renamed Aberdeen in 1952 although local people continued to refer to it as the Joint Station for many years. The north end of the station was drastically cut back in 1973, platforms were demolished and the dated ticket hall with its varnished woodwork and small windows was closed in 1978 to make way for the new Travel Centre. The Station was further modernised in the 1980's, with marble tiling and big glass screens, and television monitors provide arrival and departure information. A further upgrade saw the station roof rebuilt in 1998, as part of a £3 million renovation programme. Today at the north end of the station there are only the two through platforms still in operation for passengers.

Joint Station was always worth a visit by a wee lad to see the baskets of homing pigeons awaiting despatch to far flung release stations while being scrutinised by their feral kin pecking at discarded food..  A coin operated model of George Stephenson's 'Rocket' could be made to work for free by back heeling the base of the money box and it would whir into action repetitively. The vast airy echoing chamber would hold mysteries of far off destinations and the smell of Royalty en route to Balmoral by train.  Still a draughty old hole at times.

This must have been taken during the eve of Aberdeen Trades Fortnight. Can ye see ony Kint Faces There?

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Last modified: 01/09/2013