On Sunday 8 August we were privileged to have H.R.H. The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay unveil a Red Wheel marking the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the "Duke of Sutherland's Railway". The wheel was sponsored by FoFNL and supplied by the National Transport Trust.
The wording on the wheel is "The Duke of Sutherland's Railway. To boost the local economy, the 3rd Duke planned and financed the railway from Golspie to Helmsdale. Opened 16th May 1871."
The Prince was 'piped in' by Fraser Roach, and welcomed to Dunrobin Castle Station by Sutherland Lord Lieutenant Dr Monica Main.
The platform party included The Earl of Sutherland; FoFNL President, Jamie Stone MP and members Daniel Brittain-Catlin, who organised the event; Ian Budd; Richard Ardern; Anne-Mary Paterson, well known author of books on railway subjects; and Frank Roach, Partnership Manager at HITRANS. Also present were Scott Morrison, Managing Director, Dunrobin Castle; Darius Astell, Transport Scotland project sponsor for the Far North Line; Alan Ross, Network Rail Director Engineering and Asset Management, who gave a speech inviting the Prince to unveil the wheel; Fiona Campbell, ScotRail Regional Customer Operations Manager North; John Cameron CBE, a Vice President of the national Transport Trust (and owner of Union of South Africa and The Great Marquess, two famous steam locomotives); and Iain Crisp, head gardener at Dunrobin Castle.
The Prince was shown around the museum in the station by Daniel (described as Honorary Station Master) and was genuinely fascinated by the items he saw. Evidently he "asked a million questions!" He said that it took him right back to his childhood and that one of his happiest railway memories was being given breakfast on the Royal Train as it headed on its final leg from Aberdeen to Ballater for Balmoral. He also said, "They should never have closed that line!"
The Prince was evidently enjoying himself, and made a point of speaking to everyone on the platform, including the extra guests who were not in the greeting lines. Once the Prince had left to visit the gardens of Dunrobin Castle the day was rounded off perfectly by a buffet lunch in Golspie.