The sun was shining as Midlothian Golden Ticket winners enjoyed a day to remember on Saturday, taking the historic first journey on the Borders Railway line.
Kicking things off at the mining museum, 12-year-old Jack Owens unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the new path linking the museum to the station. Jack, a train enthusiast, said he had been a bit nervous before the ceremony but he was “honoured” to have been asked. He said his ambition now was to drive trains on the Borders Railway line.
Led by piper Jim McCabe, Jack and the majority of the 200 Golden Ticket guests then headed along the new path to Newtongrange Station, where they boarded the first official Borders Railway train.
Among the Golden Ticket holders on board was Waverley Line enthusiast Bruce Ball (62) from Roslin. In 1985 he had wanted to propose on the Lothianbridge Viaduct to his now wife Louise (65).
He said: “I had been trying to pluck up the courage as one does.
“We couldn’t get on the bridge so we walked along to the old Hardengreen Junction and I got down on one knee and that was that.
“We then walked all the way along the line to Edinburgh.
“It was sort of foreseeing our future. There were some rough bits at the start but it kind of smoothed out after a while, just like any successful marriage.”
Bruce and Louise did finally get up onto the bridge in 2012 when construction started on the line.
Bruce added: “Ever since then we would go down once a month to see the progress.
“The way the opening has been handled has been exemplary.
“It’s a momentous day.”
Louise added: “My daughter called us the Waverley Line Paparazzi. As we have millions of photos of the railway.
“So this is a great day for us. It’s been absolutely wonderful.
“We actually bought tickets not knowing we would get Golden Tickets, so we are back tomorrow.”
Mayfield Library manager Isabel ‘Isi’ Allen (59), travelled on the train with Marie Allen (61), Kayleigh Guild (29), and Jan Guild (56). Each dressed in a striking gold hat to mark the golden day.
Isi said: “We were so excited this morning when we woke up. We were shaking with nerves.
“We’ve had a great day on the train. It’s been so exciting, everyone has been so nice.
“My sister nominated myself and I nominated Jan so the four of us came along.
“We made the hats for a bit of fun and it’s been fantastic.”
Jan added: “The journey was fab and the scenery was lovely going up to Galashiels, absolutely beautiful. And of course the weather has helped.”
Betty May (75), from Newtongrange, met her late husband Frank on the old Waverley Line back in 1957.
The former Newbattle High School cleaner recalled: “We both lived in Gala at the time. I got the train to Newtongrange for work and he got the train to Edinburgh for his work.
“That day we both missed the train and we got talking on the next train. We then made a date for the next week.
“After that we were married for 52 years.”
She added: “It’s good that the railway is back. I never thought I would be back on a train down this way again.
“It’s lovely. It’s so relaxing.
“The trains are different but the views have not changed much. There is just some more houses.”
Betty was accompanied by her grandson, 13-year-old Lasswade High School pupil Kyle May.
He said: “It’s great to be here today. The views are amazing.
“I have never seen any of this before.
“I’m just happy to be here with my grandma.”
James Milligan (36), from Mayfield nominated his autistic nine year old son, also James Milligan, after he had a tough time settling into a mainstream school before he moved to Cuiken Primary.
He said: “He has come on leaps and bounds since he moved there two years ago.
“It was tough for him in a mainstream school but Cuiken has got good provision.
“It’s an amazing school. I can’t praise the teachers enough.
“We have been looking forward to this ever since we won the tickets.
“We are enjoying it so far. It’s great. We have got big plans to be regular travellers on it.”
Hunter Common (37), from Bonnyrigg was one of the BAM construction workers who helped bring the railway back to Midlothian.
He said: “It’s excellent. I’m really pleased to see it operational. It’s been such a long journey.
“I was at school when they were first taking about it. So it was really nice to work on it.
“And it’s been good to see the enthusiasm growing.
“There were mixed views at first. But as it became more of a reality more and more people started to see the opportunities it could bring to Midlothian.”
His wife Michelle Common (46) was impressed by the train journey, she added: “I think it has been really good.
“I work in Edinburgh so I will get the train in from Eskbank.
“Hopefully business will move here. I would much prefer to work in Midlothian if the opportunity to do so was here.
“Getting on the train to the Borders as well for a day trip will be great.
“And what beautiful views. So tourism should being a lot to the area as well.”
Community activist Sandra Halliday (59), from Mayfield, added: “It’s smashing. I think it’s brilliant. It a real piece of history.
“Just seeing the countryside from a different angle when you are not having to keep your eyes on the road, is brilliant.
“The views are just stunning. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, it’s beautiful.”
Mother and son Heather (48)and Gareth Fleming (18), from Newtongrange, were nominated for a Golden Ticket for their voluntary work with Newbattle Swimming Club.
With the sun shining into the carriage, Heather said: “It’s a very scenic route. It’s such a nice day for it today too.
“It’s just a lovely journey. If it brings people into Midlothian then great.
“Hopefully the mining museum will benefit, and Newtongrange in general. It will hopefully encourage people into the village itself.”
Brothers Ben (9)and Arran (5) McManus were given Golden Tickets after Ben wrote a story about going on a train with his grandad. Ben said: “It’s been good. It’s good that the train is back. I brought my grandad along for a birthday treat for him.”
Jean Thomson (78), from Mayfield was on board with her daughter Isobel Martin (51). Isobel explained why they were given Golden Tickets.
She said: “My niece had nominated my mum. She sent in a photograph of my dad going to the army, leaving on the train from Waverley.
“We have had a bit of a rough time. We lost my dad a year and a half ago.
“So it’s just lovely to have the opportunity to do this.”
After a trip up and down the line, the Golden Ticket train got back into Newtongrange around lunch time to be greeted by a jubilant crowd. Rounding off a day that none of those on board will forget in a hurry!