It is hard to imagine our streets without queues of traffic, or think of the sky without aeroplanes.  Yet 100 years ago the first aeroplanes were just being invented and very few people owned a car.

In 1825 passenger trains started to run in England. The first steam train arrived in Aberdeen in 1850. Before this time, if people in Aberdeen wanted to visit other parts of Britain, they would have to travel by horse-drawn coach or by boat.

Trains were cheaper and more reliable than travelling by road at that time. Stagecoaches could stick in the mud, horses got tired and had to be rested.

The arrival of the railways affected people's lives in all sorts of ways. Fishermen in Peterhead could send fish to far away London by train, and farmers could have fertiliser delivered to their local railway station. Trains made it easier for people to travel around the country for holidays. The railway reached Ballater in 1866. This was close to Balmoral castle, so Queen Victoria travelled by train to her Highland home.

In the 1960s, lots of railway lines were closed as more people had started to travel by car. The line to Ballater was one of them. Today it is thought that train travel is better for the environment than travelling by car or aeroplane, so trains may become more popular again in the future.

Trains did not replace all ship travel. In the 1930s, people often travelled from Aberdeen to Leith (near Edinburgh) by boat during the summer holidays. Trips to Orkney and Shetland remained popular. Ships still carry passengers between the Northern Isles and Aberdeen today.

When train travel became popular, posters were designed to advertise places in Britain with railway stations where you might spend a holiday.

Kittybrewster Station Sign Aberdeen Porter No. 19


  1. Design a poster that might encourage people to travel to where you live on holiday today.
  2. Today there is one train station in the centre of Aberdeen, and one in Dyce. In the past there were other stations in Aberdeen. Look at the timelines to find out where some of these were.
  3. Trains and cars both have advantages and disadvantages. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of car and train travel are?
  4. You can fly from Aberdeen to Shetland. Why might people choose to go by sea?
  5. What type of things can be transported more easily by ship than road, rail or sea?