Badenoch Celebrates a Very Special Birthday

Badenoch Celebrates a Very Special Birthday

The Highland tradition of having 2 and 3 day weddings are being surpassed in Kingussie this week with the celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of the Highland Mainline Railway.  The stretch of the line with the new railway stations of Kingussie, Newtonmore, Dalwhinnie and Kincraig opened on 9th September 1863. The celebrations were hosted in the Badenoch capital of Kingussie.  The opening event was an illustrated talk by Ian Moffett entitled "Kingussie and the Railway" with a showing of the "Night Mail". A very appreciative audience of in excess of 60 enjoyed the evening.

Smiles and laughter were heard in the Silverfjord Hotel as the audience left after the Railway Supper and the showing of the Jenny Agutter version of the Railway Children. "I just love a film with a happy ending and the food was amazing!" one happy filmgoer was heard to say. 

In excess of 100 visitors popped into the "Railway Exhibition" held on Saturday in Talla Nan Ros.  Exhibits were there from the Highland Folk Museum and Highland Archive and there were showings of the Night Mail courtesy of Post Office films. Superb exhibits were loaned by Ian Lamb from Grantown on Spey and Brian King, whose display was enhanced by his wealth of knowledge which visitors found fascinating. 

Sunday dawned cloudy but the cloud cleared and the sun shone for the Sunday event. The steam engine safely arrived on Platform 2 accompanied by the volunteers of the Strathspey Railway, whose knowledge and enthusiasm added greatly to the day. The Signal Box was another great attraction. The visit was undoubtedly enhanced by Dr Anne Glen's presence, Anne's knowledge, experience and chat added greatly to the visitors' experience. 

Platform 1 was graced by the ladies of the SWRI whose flower decked tables, with afternoon tea and delicious cakes were being eyed enviously by those in the crowd who were unable to sample.

Traditional games included girds, sack race, egg and spoon race, croquet with shinty balls and horseshoes.  Grannies, granddads, mums, dads and children took part and the traditional sweets given to everyone who took part were appreciated.  

Our esteemed guests in the guise of "Count and Countess of Sierra Largo",  and "Queen Victoria" accompanied by "John Brown" appropriately arrived by horse and carriage.  The "Count and Countess" unveiled a plaque commemorating the event. One highlight of the day was the meeting between the "Countess" and the grand-daughter of the actual Count and Countess, Mrs Iona Evans.

The afternoon closed with "Queen Victoria", "John Brown" and the "Count and Countess" being piped to the Duke of Gordon Hotel where they partook of afternoon tea and were superbly entertained by the Badenoch Fiddlers. 

Ian Moffett, chair of the working group who planned the event said "The weekend exceeded all our expectations.  We had in excess of 450 visitors on the Sunday alone.  Many organisations helped make the celebrations a great success. These included Scotrail and their staff, Network Rail and their staff, Strathspey Railway, Balfour Beatty,  Dr Anne Glen, Ruaridh Ormiston, SWRI - Kingussie Branch, the Badenoch Fiddlers, our Pipers – Angus and John Blackstock, St Andrews Ambulance, the Silverfjord Hotel, the Duke of Gordon Hotel, the Post Office, Highland Folk Museum, Highland Archive, Police Scotland,  Mr Brian King, Mr Ian Lamb, Mrs Iona Evans,  our "Count and Countess" Joe Taylor and Lydie Bocquillon, "Queen Victoria and John Brown" Gwynneth Wright and Rob Ritchie and all the volunteers who helped on the day." 

The celebrations continue with an illustrated talk by Ian Lamb on Wednesday, 11th September, at 7.30pm on the Development of the Highland Railway.  

 Written by Mairi Brown