New exhibit for railway museum

Nigel Sawford of Friends of Maud Station Museum with some of the tracks.
Nigel Sawford of Friends of Maud Station Museum with some of the tracks.

The popular Maud Railway Museum in Buchan has recently welcomed the arrival of its latest exhibit.

The musuem took posession of part of a century-old prison train last week, adding to its impressive haul of railway artefacts.

The historic carriage was once used to transport inmates around the north-east area during the construction phase of Peterhead Harbour.

A number of 30-feet long train tracks were delivered to the museum on June 17.

The rails will be installed at the museum, based at the former village station, while the 1915 carriage, which is only one of four surviving hand-built cars, will be restored elsewhere.

The new exhibit is expected to be the centrepiece of an ambtious local history project to commemorate the role of prisoners in the building of the Peterhead breakwater.

Maud Railway Museum was awarded £54,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help steam ahead with the Rocks, Rogues, Rails and Refuge project.

The Peterhead breakwater was expected to take around 25 years to construct, but work was delayed by two world wards and the project ended up taking more than 60 years to complete, with the final block being laid in September 1956.

As well as featuring the former railway carriage, the exhibition will also allow visitors to try out interactive displays,models and educational packs, telling the story of the prison’s early history.

The Victorian-era jail, which closed in December last year, was originally built to provide labour for construction of the port seawall, which transformed Peterhead into a safe refuge for shipping.

Prisoners were taken by train from the prison to the breakwater each day, via the large quarry, to work on the development.

Commenting on the new exhibit, Nigel Sawford, who is chair of the Friends of Maud Station Museum group, said that it would be a boost for locals and tourists alike.

The museum will hold its next open weekend on July 12 and 13, followed by August 9 and 10, September 13 and 14 and October 11 and 12.

All are welcome to go along and enjoy the exhibits.