Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside
The 22nd of January 2001 marked the centenary of the death of Queen Victoria, the longest reigning British monarch. During her reign Britain changed enormously and by the end it ruled a vast empire. But the last few years of her reign also signalled many problems that were to grow with the new century. Britain was involved in a tough little war with the Boer farmers of South Africa. Germany was growing more powerful and was seeking an empire of her own.
Queen Victoria's connection with Deeside began in 1848 when she spent a holiday at the Balmoral Estate. By 1854 she and her husband Prince Albert had bought the estate and had replaced the old castle by a grander building, that which we know today as Balmoral Castle. The Queen grew ever fonder of Deeside and it features strongly in her Highland Journals. After the premature death of Prince Albert in 1861 the Queen spent as much time as she could at Balmoral.
The purchase of Balmoral created a great interest in Deeside and many wealthy people now chose to holiday here, often bringing family and servants with them. By 1861 the railway had been built from Aberdeen through to Ballater but plans to extend it through to Braemar were opposed by Queen Victoria herself. The station at Ballater was specially adapted to take the very long Royal trains that had often set out from London or Windsor. Royalty and other visitors to Balmoral would leave the train here before proceeding by horse-drawn carriage to Balmoral The station still contains the waiting room specially built for Queen Victoria. (The wooden station building was re-opened in 2001 after major refurbishment as a visitor centre.)
Queen Victoria kept extensive journals of her stays in Scotland and her various journeys. In one entry she she refers to her love of Balmoral and Royal Deeside in the following terms ..
'Every year my heart becomes more fixed on this dear paradise.'
However, the railway itself was responsible for a new wave of holiday makers because less wealthy people from Aberdeen could now travel easily as far as Ballater. This big increase in trade led to the development of Royal Deeside which even today boasts many handsome Victorian houses and public buildings.
Queen Victoria's legacy continues, for example, in the film 'Mrs Brown'. This is the story of how after the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria came to rely heavily on Crathie-born servant John Brown. Such a dependency was not popular with those surrounding the Queen because of the class-ridden attitudes of the period. A statue of John Brown stands in the grounds of Balmoral and he is buried at neighbouring Crathie (see below).
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|Introduction||A History of Royal Deeside||The Deeside Railway||The Old Military Road||Old Kirkyardst|
|Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside||John Brown, Loyal Servant||Francis Farquharson||Lord Byron, poet||Alexander Gordon|
|Macbeth and Braemar||Braemar Gathering and Highland Games||History of Braemar||Clan Farquharson||Bridges of Ballater|
|19th Century Ballater||History of Dinnet area||Aboyne History||Aboyne Wartime Poetry||Aboyne Great War Records|
|History of Dinnet||History of Tarland||Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King||Glen O' Dee Hospital||Brunel's Bridge|
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