Highland community rail event flies the flag at King's Cross
Something was different at King's Cross on Wednesday. Two huge Saltires were flying from the station roof in the breeze as Atholl Highlander pipers and dancers welcomed travellers. Colourful flash mob dancers promoted the Pitlochry Festival Theatre ‘Summer Holiday’ production, whilst 17 volunteers provided information on how direct train travel to the Scottish Highlands (day or overnight) was just a few steps away. Meanwhile, LNER was launching their brand new Azuma trains that will soon be providing an upgraded service to the highlands.
Sally Spaven, Chair of the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership said “The atmosphere was just wonderful with a very positive reception from the travelling public with many saying they were now inspired to visit Scotland and the Highlands by train... We also had an excellent and dedicated team who were key to engaging with over six thousand members of public, giving out thousands of goody bags with info packs and making the event such a success. We had great interest in our draw for a three day Luxury Break in the Highlands. Our social media was also buzzing with activity and many visitors sharing selfies with the Atholl Highlanders.”
“It was a privilege to be given the opportunity to bring the Highlands to King's Cross for the day and we thank them very much. We hope we entertained the commuters and encouraged folk to visit our stunningly beautiful home.”
Roy Brown, Vice Chair said: “Community Rail in the City is a great opportunity for us to promote our wonderful railway line to thousands of commuters and potential visitors at King’s Cross, a gateway to Scotland and the Highlands. We highlight the fantastic things there are to see and explore, and encourage people to visit by rail rather than car. As well as being a healthier, more relaxing and pleasurable way to travel, visiting the area by rail benefits the local economy, and means less traffic, noise and pollution in our communities and the Cairngorms National Park.”
The event was funded by ScotRail with generous sponsorship from: BAM Nuttall, Blair Castle and the Atholl Highlanders, Caledonian Sleeper, LNER, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Walkers of Aberlour.
The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership (HML CRP) joined forces with more than 30 other groups to showcase some of Britain’s most scenic train journeys and promote sustainable tourism by rail.
Photos by Paul Hackett
The only private army in the UK, The Atholl Highlanders, are supporting the Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership at their Highland Fling event.
In 1842, the regiment escorted Queen Victoria during her tour of Perthshire, and in 1844, when the Queen stayed as a guest of the Duke of Atholl at Blair Castle. The regiment mounted the guard for the duration of her stay. In recognition of their service, the Queen announced she would present the Atholl Highlanders with colours, thus giving the regiment official status. Queen Victoria later travelled by train to Blair Castle, just a few days after the Highland Mainline opened on 9th September 1863, being one of its earliest passengers!
The Atholl Highlanders are inspected by Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl at the regiment's annual parade. This year falling on Saturday 25th May, with the Atholl Gathering being held the next day on Sunday 26th.
We are honoured that some of them are accompanying us to King's Cross Station. There will be some piping and Highland Dancing and the opportunity to have photos taken with them in their full Highland Dress.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre is looking forward to creating a fantastic “On Holiday” feeling at King's Cross Station.
Elizabeth Newman, Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director said:
“Thirty wonderful performers, armed with suitcases and palm trees, are going to unexpectedly erupt into song and dance to transfix and bring joy and happiness to early morning, lunchtime and early evening commuters, and inspire them to travel to Scotland, and Pitlochry.
Over the summer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre will be sharing their fresh, vibrant production of Summer Holiday, which includes wonderful live music, superb singing and brilliant dancing and incredible acting.
We aim to ensure audiences will be excited about not just going on holiday but the joy of being alive, falling in love and travelling the world!”
Watch this space, we are coming to King's Cross!
Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership are delighted to be participating in Community Rail in the City in 2019. CRiTC has been running for a few years and gives CRP's the opportunity to promote their line at some of the major UK Railway Stations run by Network Rail.
After initial meetings late in 2018, we were asked to hold an event at Kings Cross Station in London on 15th May 2019. This will be the first time a Scottish event has been held at King's Cross, which is the main departure point for the "Highland Chieftain", which runs up the East Coast and through the Highlands to Inverness daily. This is a wonderful opportunity for us, especially in 2019, as we work towards the future with new HST's, Caledonian Sleeper upgrades and LNER Azumas on our majestic line.
We have been working on our event since early December and are now finalising our plans for "Highland Fling" at Kings Cross in under two weeks time. This has been a huge task for our small group, but we will number almost 50 folk on the day. More on that next week.
We are indebted to all kinds of people, but mainly to Ian Ball, Kings Cross Station Manager, for letting us invade his Station, ACORP for Administration and support, ScotRail for funding and many other sponsors who we will mention as we unveil our programme to you next week.