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Joint Station

Railway Stations

The Railway came to Aberdeen on the 16th of March 1850. Work had started in 1845. The line headed north from Forfar to Aberdeen.  Railway navvies (labourers) carried out the work of making the rail line. It was all done by hand. Explosives were used where rock had to be cut (as at Cove near Aberdeen).


Railway Bridge
The Aberdeen Railway, now part of the Caledonian System, was opened to Ferryhill in March, 1850. It crosses the River Dee by a Bridge of 6 arches, each formed of 4 cast-iron ribs resting on stone piers which rise to the full height of the bridge. The roadway is supported by cast-iron uprights resting upon the arched ribs. A 7th arch, similar to those over the River, permits the Riverside Road to pass under the Railway, and 4 stone and lime arches carry the Railway to Polmuir. The striking feature of the whole suite of arches is that they are on a curve with a radius of 2000 feet.


Ferryhill Station

The Aberdeen Railway first opened its line from the south to a temporary station at Ferryhill on 16 March 1850.

Many delays had been experience in building the railway, due to the large number of major viaducts, rock cuttings, embankments and bridges needed. Because of this the official opening was a fortnight later, on the 30th March. 

Ferryhill Station was the terminus of the Aberdeen Railway entering Aberdeen from the south.

It was later closed on 2 August 1854, being replaced by Guild Street Station and then the Joint Station (opened in 1867).

 

1847

Aberdeen's first railway station was at Ferryhill. It opened in 1850. But in 1847 there was a proposal for a different site. This was to be where Market Street joined Union Street.

 

The plan shows what it might have looked like: a very grand building in the neo-classical style.

 

This means that it was designed to look like Greek-Roman architecture.

 

But it was never built. It would have been a large civil engineering project costing a lot of money. Engineers would have needed to build the railway up to the height of Union Street, difficult and expensive.

 


Waterloo Station
At the bottom of Commerce Street on the left stood Waterloo Station (near where the Crown and Anchor pub is now.) This station was opened by the Great North of Scotland Railway on 1 April 1856 to replace the old station at Kittybrewster and give access to Aberdeen Harbour.  It was built on the old canal basin at Waterloo Quay. It was part of the Great North of Scotland Railway main line to Keith. Complete with Platforms. Waiting Rooms, Telegraph office and Refreshments for users of the Great North of Scotland Railway which explains the large space left clear on this harbour area for Station Traffic.  The only connection between Guild Street and Waterloo was by rails along the quayside, only suitable for goods wagons. Passengers either had to walk or use a horse drawn bus, and connections were not guaranteed. Short lived it seems just some 11 years. It closed to passengers in 1867 once the Joint Station was open, but the track remains in use as a freight sidings for the docks.  It closed to regular passenger traffic on 4 November 1867, becoming a goods station thereafter.  The passenger station buildings were demolished in the 1960s.  The train shed survived at Waterloo Station until the 1960's and the station continued as a goods depot until the 1970's when it was converted for use by British Steel for pipe storage. Today the Waterloo track joins the Aberdeen - Inverness line and is still occasionally used by goods trains.

Waterloo goods depot lingered on until the late 70's. The fine goods shed was occupied by Fry's, the Chocolate Company. At Kittybrewster Depot, there was a regular shunting turn which meant experiencing the heavy drop down to the docks which had you wondering if the train would manage to stop, or on return, manage to make the climb back. There are numerous records of trains failing to do either and coming to grief at the stop blocks. One incident left the wagons piled upon each other up against a tenement block. I'm sure many trainmen will recall times when they spent most of the return journey walking alongside the loco, throwing sand and grit under the wheels to finally reach Kittybrewster yard. Today little remains of the goods yard, but the single line is still used occasionally by clay wagons, from Cornwall.


Guild Street

View of goods shed before removal

The authority to build a passenger station at Guild Street was granted in 1850, but it was not until August 2nd 1854 that Aberdeen Railway was able to extend to the new city terminus.  Once Guild Street Station opened it replaced the temporary station at Ferryhill, and was the terminus of the railway entering Aberdeen from the south. 

The station building was a 2-storey 8 bay Office with round headed Ground Floor openings. This building was demolished in 1982.  From 1854 to 1867, if a passenger wished to travel north beyond Aberdeen they had to change to Waterloo Station. The only connection between Guild Street and Waterloo Station (the GNSR terminus) was by rails along the Quayside, only suitable for goods wagons. Passengers either had to walk or use a horse drawn bus, and connections were not guaranteed. 

Later the Railway extended through the west of this station along the Denburn Valley. In November 1867, trains from the north were able to use this line into the new Joint Station. After the construction of the Joint Station, Guild Street Station became a goods station, closing to passengers.  The goods shed built before World War 1 had been converted into an office block with an associated private car park.  In 2000 the yard at Guild Street was still used by English, Welsh and Scottish Railways for freight traffic. While some of its tracks remain, the vast majority of the site was cleared in 2005 nothing of the Station remains.

The Aberdeen Railway, amalgamated (1866) with the Caledonian, was opened for traffic up to Guild Street Terminus in 1848: and the Great North of Scotland was opened from Huntly to Kittybrewster in 1854, and thence extended, 2 years afterwards, to Waterloo Terminus. The break-700 yards of crowded quays between these termini had proved a great hindrance to intercommunication, when, in 1864, the 2 companies were empowered to construct the Denburn Valley line, on a capital of £190,000, of which the Great North of Scotland subscribed £125,000. The junction railway runs 1¾ mile north-north-westward from Guild Street to Kittybrewster, being carried beneath Union Bridge, and through 2 short tunnels under Woolman Hill and Maberley Street: and the Great North Company abandoned their Waterloo Branch, except for goods traffic, on the opening (1867) of the new Joint (Guild Street) Station, which, over 500 feet long by 100 wide, is one of the finest stations in Scotland, its lofty iron-girder roof being modelled after that of Victoria Station, Pimlico


Joint Station & The Denburn Valley Line

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.

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 first 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

 

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

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 three through tracks with one long through platform and two 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 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 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 third 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 first 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 Stephensons '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.  A draughty old hole at times.


Schoolhill


Schoolhill Station, before its closure in 1937

In 1893 after several years negotiation with the Town Council, Schoolhill Station was opened. It was located within sight of the Joint Station, but was more convenient for George St, Rosemount and Woolmanhill areas.  Schoolhill Station was a granite building with entrances from both Schoolhill and the Denburn levels.

The station was also used as a bus terminus for the Great North of Scotland Railway bus service.  The station restaurant survived until the 1970's, and the station was demolished in 1973Current Status: The railway is now single track at this point. Traces of building remains in the car park beside the theatre.

The was indeed a Tearoom in my time and looked like a a complete folly as a freestanding structure with a footbridge to the Viaduct as its original use had long since faded from memory.


The ticket office, now a private dwellingHutcheon Street
Hutcheon Street Station 1887 was part of the Denburn Valley Line between the Joint Station and Kittybrewster, and provided passenger and goods services.

The building on Hutcheon Street was a basic brick structure at street level. The suburban stations could only book passengers to other stations served by the suburban line.  In 1887 Hutcheon Street and Don Street were added to the section,  Station was converted into a house. 

The suburban stations could only book passengers to other stations served by the suburban line.  The locomotives used for the Suburban service from 1885 were 3 Manson design 0-6-0 Tanks, fitted with Westinghouse brakes to allow passenger workings. The Westinghouse brakes were operated by compressed air and worked on every vehicle in a train, replacing the simple hand brakes on the tank and allowing it to haul the new passenger service.  They were to cover the 6 miles in 20 minutes, from the Joint Station at Guild Street, stopping at Kittybrewster, Woodside, Bucksburn and Dyce.  
 


Donside Railway

Kittybrewster
Kittybrewster was one of the earliest stations built at Aberdeen. The Great North of Scotland Railway Company opened its first station there in 1854. The railway went from Kittybrewster to Huntly. In 1855 a new station was built near the harbour, Waterloo Station. The two stations were linked by rail. Twelve years later (1867) a new line went from Kittybrewster to Guild Street Station, called the Joint Station.

View from Kittybrewster station looking north, showing the station and depot. On the extreme right Kittybrewster South Signal Box. The tracks behind the signal box form the branch line to Waterloo Station.

In 1854 the Great North of Scotland Railway opened a line from Kittybrewster to Huntly. The terminus at Kittybrewster proved inconvenient for the city and for transfers to southbound train services at Guild Street. Therefore the line was extended to Waterloo Quay in 1855, using much of the old Aberdeenshire Canal bed. Once Waterloo Station was opened, Kittybrewster Station was closed in 1856 and was replaced by a station of the same name constructed on the line to Waterloo Station.  In 1864 construction began of a railway line from Kittybrewster through the Denburn valley to a new station at Guild Street. At this time Kittybrewster Station was reconstructed further west on the new line. Locomotive sheds and goods hauling facilities were at this site. This depot became the main workshop of the Great North of Scotland Railway until the works were removed from Kittybrewster to Inverurie in 1898. From 1887 the station was used by the local service of suburban trains that ran to and from Dyce. Trains ran from the Joint Station: as well as calling at Kittybrewster, they stopped at Woodside, Bucksburn, Bankhead and Stoneywood Stations, terminating at Dyce.   In 1923 the Great North of Scotland Railway became absorbed into the Northern Scottish area of London and North Eastern Railway. Little changed on the suburban routes. The development of road traffic saw a decline in railway operations in the 1930's. On the 28th Jan 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. Kittybrewster remained open for through traffic and finally closed in May 1968. Current Status: Single railway track.  
Kittybrewster Rail Yard

Don Street
In 1887 Don Street Station and Hutcheon Street Station opened and were added to the section from the Joint station to Dyce, they provided a local service which encouraged people to move out of Aberdeen's city centre and travel to work. By 1888 there were 12 return services daily.

Woodside
Woodside Station opened in 1858 and provided a local service, which encouraged people to move out of Aberdeen's city centre and travel to work. This station had a substantial wooden building with a glass canopy, as befitting the high status of the local community.  The locomotives used for the Suburban service from 1885 were three Manson design 0-6-0 Tanks, fitted with Westinghouse brakes to allow passenger workings. The Westinghouse brakes were operated by compressed air and worked on every vehicle in a train, replacing the simple hand breaks on the tank and allowing it to haul the new passenger service. They were to cover the 6 miles in 20 minutes, from the Joint Station and Dyce. By 1888 there were 12 return workings daily.  Current Status: The railway is now single track at this point. The area is quite overgrown, the platform still survives but the station has gone.

In 1912. the Highland Railway sent two engines to Inverness every day.  The station opened in 1858 using the drained bed of the Woodside Canal and closed on 5 May 1937.

Bankhead

Crowded platform at Bankhead Railway Station, c.1900

Although formally opened to the public in 1887, as Bankhead platform, this station had previously been well used by mill workers between 1867 and 1887. At that time it was referred to as the Stoneywood platform. The first train using this platform was a workmen's train to serve the Donside Mill. The expansion of the mill industry in the Don Valley lead to a growth in labour requirements and local recruitment took place including within the centre of Aberdeen. Even before the opening of the Denburn valley line, Great North of Scotland Railway began running a morning and evening workers' train to cater for the employees of Pirie's Mills at Stoneywood, Bankhead.  The train left Waterloo Quay at 5.30 a.m. stopping at Kittybrewster and Woodside, taking a total of 18 minutes. In the evening the mill worker's train either ran at 5.25 p.m. from Waterloo Station, or the workers took the 4 p.m. train from Keith south to Waterloo Station. Current Status: Now a single railway track still in use.
Crowded platform at Bankhead Railway Station, c.1900

Stoneywood
This was an intermediate station on the suburban service that ran from the
Joint Station to Dyce. Recognising the local demand the Great North of Scotland Railway provided a local service of 8 daily trains to and from Dyce, starting in 1887. The trains called at Kittybrewster, Woodside, Bucksburn, Bankhead and Stoneywood, terminating at Joint Station. By 1888 there were a dozen return workings daily.  On the 28th January 1937 it was announced in the Press and Journal that after April 1937 the suburban railway service was to end. Fourteen stations including Stoneywood, closed as a result of rivalry from bus services and waning popularity of the train service.. This marked the end of a chapter in transportation history for Aberdeen. Today the line remains in regular use by trains between Aberdeen and InvernessCurrent Status: Nothing remains of the station and platform.

Bucksburn

Bucksburn Station about 1906-09 with the substantial protecting canopy.

Buxsburn Station opened in 1854 as an intermediate stop on the Aberdeen - Keith - Inverness main line. This station had a substantial wooden building with a glass canopy, as befitting the high status of the Buxsburn community.  Buxsburn Station was renamed Bucksburn Station in January 1897Bucksburn remained open for through traffic, but the station closed in 1956. The line remains in regular use by passenger traffic, between Aberdeen and Inverness.  Now demolished, site occupied by flats, northbound platform survives.

Bucksburn & Aberdeen


The Strathspey Platform with the puffing Briggie in the background and Trinity Hall towering over the Green


The Alford Valley Railway

History of the Alford Valley Railway (AVR) at the Grampian Transport Museum (GTM) in Alford.

The life of this long-closed branch line from Kintore from Alford will be illustrated using drawings and plans from the Great North of Scotland Association’s collection held at the Museum as well as many historic photos, along with their present day views for comparison.  Railway details both specific to the line and the elsewhere in the North-east of Scotland will be on display along with a hands-on working model based on Alford Station.  The line’s contribution to the area will be set in context to its local agriculture and quarrying industries. The museum includes oral histories from those who knew or used the line.  Museum curator Mike Ward said: “Not many local people today really appreciate the significance of the old track bed between Alford, Whitehouse, Monymusk, Kemnay and the main line at Kintore junction.


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Last modified: 01/09/2013