The Railway System Reaches Aberdeen....


As the opening years of the nineteenth century had witnessed, in the formation of new streets, the greatest impetus which the growth of the city had ever received, so the first year of the second half of the century saw the advent of the locomotive, which, wherever it comes, has a wonderful influence in promoting the wealth and prosperity both of town and county.

On 16th March, 1850, railway communication was established between Aberdeen and the south. At first the station was at Ferryhill, and, as few of the inhabitants had ever seen a locomotive and railway train before the opening of the station, thousands of people, young and old, went to Ferryhill to look at the phenomenon. They had heard wonderful accounts of the speed at which trains moved along the rails, so much faster than anything they had been acquainted with formerly, that it was not without some trepidation that some of them ventured on a run to Cove or Stonehaven to make trial of the new sensation of travelling at the rate of thirty miles an hour. In 1854 the viaduct from Ferryhill was completed, and the station was moved to Guild Street. About the same time also, telegraphic communication was established between Aberdeen and the south. The Deeside railway was opened as far as to Banchory on 7th September, 1853, extended to Aboyne in December, 1859, and to Ballater in October 1866. The Great North of Scotland Railway was opened between Aberdeen and Huntly on 19th September, 1854. For about eighteen months the terminus was at Kittybrewster, but the line was completed to the harbour, and the terminal station was brought to Waterloo Quay in April, 1856. This was a more convenient arrangement, but still the awkwardness of through passengers having to break the continuity of their journey by the walk of about a quarter of a mile, from Guild Street to Waterloo Station, or vice versa, was much felt, and about 1867 the North Line was extended from Kittybrewster by the Denburn Valley to Bridge Street, while the passenger station of the lines entering Aberdeen from the south was at the same time moved from Guild Street westward to the same point, thus making one joint passenger station, as at present.

The locomotive wrought a complete revolution in all our travelling arrangements. The speed at which the fast trains now travel is about 50 miles an hour, and one may traverse the 540 miles between Aberdeen and London in 12 hours, including stoppages. It is needless to say that after the railway system had been fairly inaugurated the old stage coaches were driven from the field, just as the London smacks had to give place to the steamboats. The railway lines are now the great highways of the country, but good macadamised roads will always be of immense advantage, and it was well that we had such roads before we had railway lines, otherwise our admirable turnpikes might not have been so well made as they are.   

Aberdeen, Its Traditions and History
By William Robbie