150 years on track
2013 will mark 150 years since the opening of the final sections of the Highland Line. The Railway was to play an important role in the social and economic development of the country side through which it ran.
Joseph Mitchell, Chief Inspector of Highland Roads and Bridges under Thomas Telford, was to become an extraordinary Railway Engineer. He began planning a direct route from Inverness across the Grampians to Perth as early as 1845. Ahead of his time, as the railway did not reach Perth until 1848 and it was 1850 before it reached Aberdeen. Parliament threw out the crossing of the Grampians by Mitchell and awarded the route to Great North of Scotland Railway, who failed to take their chance of a coastal route to Inverness via Aberdeen. But when Mitchell was finally awarded his change in 1861, he built 104 miles of line between Dunkeld and Forres in just 23 months!
To celebrate this Sesquicentennial, First Scotrail and Network Rail have refurbished the Station buildings and the Victorian Footbridge at Pitlochry. The local community, with help from Pitlochry in Bloom, Pitlochry Partnership, Moulin and Pitlochry History Circle and local schools have set up a group to celebrate the arrival of the train and tourism to Pitlochry. A colourful exhibition of children's artwork, a floral train and unique historical photographs will be on display for September this year.
Central to the celebrations has been the restoration of the Victorian Drinking Fountain, a MacFarlane 7 from the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, with financial assistance from the First Scotrail, P&KC Heritage Trust and the Railway Heritage Trust. This is one of only 2 remaining at stations in Scotland.
The Highland Mainline was opened from Dunkeld to Pitlochry on the 1st June 1863, from Forres to Aviemore on 3rd August 1863 and the final section from Aviemore to Pitlochry on 9th September 1863. Finally a direct connection to Edinburgh and the South made travel possible for all.
We would be interested to hear from anyone connected to the Railway and Pitlochry Station, to gather stories, photographs and possible artefacts we could loan.