Just before I leave, I wanted to show you a very pleasing feature of Aberdeen: the Old Deeside Line. As you can probably see, it’s a converted railway line that is now used by cyclists and walkers. It runs from the Duthie Park all the way out to Cults and beyond, i.e. the western suburbs of the city.
Here you can see the old railway platform of what was once Holburn Street Station:
As one of those people who always semi-leaps across the gap between the train and the platform, for fear of somehow dropping down into it, I find walking past here a little bit strange. I feel I shouldn’t be here, as if a train will come along any minute!
This railway line was opened in 1894 and must have been a wonderfully quick commute for those living out to the west of the city. I’d always assumed that the Deeside Line was a victim of the famous Beeching cuts in the 1960s, but in fact the city council website explains that it was closed in 1937, due to the growing popularity of buses. Go figure! I would take a train over a bus any day, but I suppose that was before the roads were chock-a-block with so many privately-owned cars.
The path is beautifully quiet now, but in 1906 the Holburn Street Station was the scene of great excitement. It was the day of the visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, who came to Aberdeen to open Marischal College. According to an article by Dr. Bob Drummond in the South Holburn Church Parish Press, “The Aberdeen Journal reported that spectators paid up to five shillings for seats on the railway embankment. They would have had a good view of the 12.15 arrival but would have been deafened by a nearby 21 gun salute. … So great were the crowds that day, extra police had to be brought in from Dundee and Glasgow. … The six coach procession made its way up Gray Street to Great Western Road and then by way of Forest Avenue, Albyn Place and Union Street to Broad Street.” Gray Street is a very steep climb, and I find it hard to imagine six coaches going up the hill. At least they wouldn’t have had to navigate the sleeping policemen (traffic humps).
If you go for a stroll along the railway line these days, you will smell the beautiful rosa rugosa, and also the lovely liquorice-y scent of wild angelica.
It’s become a very important “wildlife corridor” right in the middle of a busy city. I’ll really miss it!