Historic opening of Borders Railway celebrated

Press release   •   Nov 21, 2016 09:50 GMT

A commemorative stone sculpture has been unveiled at Tweedbank Station to mark the day Her Majesty The Queen opened the Borders Railway and became Britain’s longest serving monarch.

The Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, Captain The Hon Gerald Maitland-Carew, carried out the duties today (Friday 18 November) alongside Borders artist Michelle De Bruin who created the piece.

The two metre high sandstone was sourced from local firm Hutton Stone and weighs over 750kg. It took 200 hours to complete, with apprentices Josephine Crossland and Luke Batchelor assisting Michelle on the project.

The Queen opened the Borders Railway on 9 September 2015, with over 1million passengers having travelled on the line in its first year.

Following the campaign to try to halt the closure of the Waverley Line in 1969 which ultimately proved successfully, efforts were renewed through the 1990s and 2000s to return trains to the Borders.

This included a petition of over 17,000 signatures calling for a return of rail services being presented to the Scottish Parliament in 2000.

Councillor Graham Garvie, Convener of Scottish Borders Council (SBC), said: “With the line officially opened by The Queen at Tweedbank on the same day she became Britain’s longest reigning monarch, it was felt that a permanent tribute was required to mark this significant moment in British history as well as the achievements of local campaigners.

“After a series of options were carefully considered, the idea of a commemorative stone - located on the spot where The Queen declared the line open – was taken forward.

“I am sure that this beautiful artwork will become a focal point of Tweedbank Station for Borderers and visitors to enjoy for years to come.”

Councillor Garvie added: “It is particular appropriate that the unveiling was carried out by Captain The Hon Gerald Maitland-Carew, Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, as he was instrumental in arranging for The Queen to open the Borders Railway line on such a historic day.”

Councillor David Parker, Leader of SBC, added: “The opening of the Borders Railway was one of the most momentous events in the history of our region.

“The £350million project was the longest new domestic railway to be constructed in Britain for over 100 years and brought trains back to the Borders for the first time in 46 years.

“The opening of the line followed a campaign which was a triumph of a community working together to ensure that a dream which many thought was impossible could become a reality and I am delighted their work will be permanently recognised by this commemorative stone.”

Michelle De Bruin studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art before moving to the Borders to live and work.

She has previously exhibited her work at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.

She added: “The building of the Borders Railway is a rare achievement in our day and age.

“I was honoured to be asked to undertake this commemorative project, and I hope that people will feel that the final design reflects the importance of the event.”

Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “The Borders Railway is firmly lodged in the hearts of communities who live, work and play along the length of the line – and far beyond.

“This superb sculpture is a visible testament to its early success and I am confident that our plans to add more carriages onto the route from 2018 will bring additional economic and social benefits.”

VisitScotland Regional Director, Doug Wilson, said: “The Borders Railway has provided a huge boost for Scottish tourism and has helped to shine a spotlight on the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh.

“It is thanks to the efforts of local campaigners that it is now easier than ever before for visitors to explore the wealth of attractions on offer in the regions.

“It is fitting that the momentous re-opening of the historic route by Her Majesty The Queen on the same day she became Britain’s longest serving monarch is commemorated in this way and the locally-sourced and crafted sculpture will prove an added draw for visitors to the railway line.”

Notes to Editors

Images are available at SBC’s Flickr page.

More information on the Borders Railway is available at

otes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016