Probus hears of life on the trains

At the meeting of Ellon Probus Club on 13 September members were entertained to a three-man talk by Alistair Coull, Ian Mackenzie and David Haskin on the Keith to Dufftown railway from its birth in the 1850s to its demise in the late 1960s and subsequent re-birth as a heritage tourist attraction operated by enthusiasts.

The Keith-Dufftown railway was known as the ‘Whisky Line’ as it served a number of distilleries in the area, carrying barley to the distilleries and the finished product south to the bottling plants and wider markets. Nowadays the railway plays a major role ferrying tourists between destinations during the late spring and autumn Whisky Festivals.

The railway is about 10 miles long and operates daily during the summer months and at Christmas with ‘Santa Specials’. At the Dufftown end, two carriages have been converted into a cafe/restaurant.

The rolling stock and permanent way have to conform to GB railway standards.

The railway operates as a charity and is dependent on voluntary donations. It has received considerable help from two distilling companies with regard to engine units but is constantly in the search of additional funds. To further this cause, David Haskin has recently published a book on the Keith-Dufftown railway titled ‘Light Hearted Lines’ recounting tales of happenings on the line.The next meeting is on September 27 when club member Jim Gauld will give a titled of ‘Bald Hieds an’ Sair Bellies’.