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Bon Accord Street

The bridging of the Denburn enabled further development to the west of Aberdeen and the Bon Accord / Crown Street  Area was a planned extension to the early development of Union Street. The Conservation Area is a 19th century neoclassical layout exhibiting strong architectural frontages. The area is significant as it contains city centre development which was Architect-designed and executed according to plan. It provides a good example of residential streets of the period including some of the best Archibald Simpson-attributed work. The area is a dense quarter of the City featuring a diverse range of building types and uses. This ranges from large and grand Civic buildings adjacent to more modest Residential ones.

The Incorporated Tailors planned to comprehensively develop the lands to the South of Union Street which included the Bon Accord developments, and spurs off Union Street such as Dee Street and Bon Accord Street were laid out in 1809 and 1814 respectively. By 1820 there was an instruction for a plan to be made to comprehensively develop the lands to the south of Union Street. Architects Alexander Gildowie and John Smith were asked to produce 2 plans, 1 of a square and another of Streets without a Square. Archibald Simpson supplanted 1st Gildowie and then Smith with his proposal in 1822 of a Square and a Terrace, namely Bon Accord Square and Bon Accord Terrace. Soon
after this the 1st feu was being built according to the overall specification ‘to build a dwelling house of stone and lime and covered with slates or lead, the stone to be of granite and dressed equal to ashlar work’, whereas new buildings
in the nearby Hardgate could be ‘of cottage height and slated’. The Bon Accord Square development was unique for Aberdeen as it was executed as the Architect had intended and combined in miniature some of the contemporary planning developments in Edinburgh.  The scheme for Bon Accord Crescent is similar in style to that of Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, with the idea of giving amenity to the houses and occupants by preserving a green space opposite – a notion which continued through the century into suburbs like Ferryhill.  Few architectural details are worked into the scheme aside from the pure stone granite facades and the railings. Another feature worthy of note is an original viewing platform overlooking Bon Accord Gardens and the lands beyond, which is constructed on raised brick vaults. Bon Accord Street notably features S Gavin Williamson built A G R Mackenzie'sJackson’s Garage’ which is typically Art Deco in style and the large Telephone Exchange building with arcaded ground floor by Leonard Stokes.

Jackson's Garage
A fine example of Art Deco architecture, the former Jackson's Garage is located on the corner of Bon Accord Street and Langstane Place in Aberdeen. Now B-listed, it was built 1933-37 by Engineer S Gavin Williamson to the designs of the local Architectural practice of A Marshal Mackenzie & Son.  The building curves around the street corner, but the main facade is on Bon Accord Street. This comprises a central block which demonstrates the prominent vertical and horizontal lines of the Art Deco style, featuring long metal-framed windows and a distinctive entrance, with a bronze winged torch and distinctive lantern-mast above. It is a rare example of Art Deco executed in granite, although there are others in Aberdeen; the nearby Bon Accord Baths (1937), Tullos Primary School (1937) and the Northern Hotel (1938).  The garage would originally have had showrooms at the front, with offices above and workshops behind. To the rear, in Bon Accord Square, the building sympathetically incorporates Archibald Simpson's Georgian facade of 1823. The building later became the SMT garage and now operates as a series of shops.

The economic growth of the later 18th century had major consequences for towns and cities and the building of planned settlements accelerated dramatically with a much higher proportion of Scots living in cities. The idea of ‘leaving the City’ but remaining on the outskirts was 1st experimented with by the rich and then middle classes. Within the Bon Accord/Crown Street Area on Springbank Terrace there are slightly less grandiose houses of 1.5- storeys but still very uniform.  These were most likely designed by Architect Alexander Ellis who lived at No.66, who was perhaps better know for his Churches – for example St Mary’s Cathedral in Huntly Street.  Springbank – features more residential buildings which creates a quieter sense of place. The street has a more open feel due to large open front gardens to the north of Springbank Terrace with some large street trees and mature planting.

These are also among the best examples of Archibald Simpson-attributed work, notably Dee Street and Bon-Accord Street. Bon-Accord Square and Bon-Accord Crescent are main building features of the Area which exhibit specific urban form. Bon Accord Square has a very regular architectural treatment. The basic elevation unit has 2 floors plus basement and attic floors, with each main floor having 3 windows or 2 windows and one door, and the attic typically having 2 dormer windows. Some poorly designed attic conversions have damaged the proportions of the original design. The space is well defined and enclosed, with no dominant buildings or large central feature. The square is approximately 46m wide by 87m long and is very formal, with a consistent roofline height, closed corners and only 2 entry/exit points – therefore the view out is blocked giving a good sense of containment.

Aberdeen Map 1857

John, Duncan, George & William Campbell - 13 Back Wynd - Post-Horse Master (Campbell & Co.)
Campbell's Limited
, Post and Job Horse Masters, Omnibus, Carriage, and Cab Proprietors, Livery Stable Keepers,
13  Bon-Accord Street, Northern Branch, 631 and 633 George Street, Union Street, Joint Station, Guild Street, and 9 Salisbury Terrace; Funeral Undertakers, 10 Bon-Accord Street, 287 Rosemount Place, 9-1/2. Mounthooley, 1 Alford Place, Wellington Road, 8 Shoe Lane,

Campbell's Limited, Carriage Builders, 12 Bon-Accord Street, (Works 25a Gordon Street)

11a-19 Bon Accord Street (former Livery Stables and Offices), 21-29 Langstane Place and 2-16 Gordon Street

3-storey Building ranges on Triangular Corner site, built around inner courtyard as Stables and Offices for Campbell's Ltd, Post-Horse Masters, 1889, with additions and alterations 1890, 1895, 1908.  L-plan block with 17 bays at Langstane Place and 3 return bays into Gordon Street, of 1889, extended circa 1890s with a further 10 bays at Gordon Street providing main stabling accommodation: squared granite rubble, with stugged ashlar dressings, polished ashlar continuous cill course projecting at ground and 1st floors, individual cills at 2nd; eaves course.  Regular fenestration: short segmental-arched ground floor openings, large, 20-pane windows at 1st and 2nd, with metal astragals and top hoppers (except first 3 bays into Gordon Street, 2nd storey; small square windows close up at eaves; and 2nd storey at Langstane Place: 2 small square openings flanked by large windows). Curved glazing at bowed angle of Langstane Place/Gordon Street, with shaped and coped curvilinear gable and ball finial above wallhead. Shaped wallhead stack to left into Gordon Street. Slated hoist cage central above Langstane Place block a later addition. Brick at rear/courtyard elevation.  Gordon Street Elevation: 3 bays 1889, extended by further 10 bays circa 1890s. Shopfront at bay 1; 2 carriage entrances with sliding doors on tracks alternating with 2 windows further South at ground. 1st storey openings blocked at lower half randomly towards South end. 2nd storey large windows (not hoppers).  No.s 11a-19 Bon Accord Street: original 2-storey and attic houses (5-bay house to left, Nos 11a to 17; 2-bay to right, No 19) of circa 1840, adapted as offices and domestic premises of Campbells Ltd by 1889 (in 1889 plans shopfronts and stable doors at ground mat Nos 15 and 17, with store rooms to rear at courtyard; 11a at corner originally Funeral Office, Campbells Ltd). Minor alterations 1908. Granite ashlar, slated roofs; regrettable modern shopfronts at ground level. Wrought-iron Art Noveau gate at pend (to Gilchrist Funeral Department) at No 19. Pend/carriage entrance at No 13, leading to concrete ramps within (see Courtyard). Plain sash and case glazing to Nos 11a-17. Original glazing at 1st floor. No 19 to right only ('top hopper). Bow fronted timber dormer windows at 11a-17; canted timber-fronted dormers at No 19; end stacks. Courtyard early and advanced cantilevered concrete construction providing ramps on 2 levels for access by horses to upper floors. Steel beams mass concrete arched construction cantilevered over courtyard below, cast-iron columns between upper and lower levels, presumably original, dating from 1890s.

Bon Accord Crescent

Bon Accord Crescent exhibits a curving form and is particularly elegant compared to a regular terrace. Bon Accord Crescent in particular responds to the view by stepping back in the middle and pushing the ends forward to ‘capture’ the view and creates a stronger relationship with the view beyond.  The largest ‘bulky’ buildings are located south of Langstane Place between Gordon Street and Bon Accord Street which are at odds with the overall scale and form of buildings in the area. Neither the street layout nor building lines have changed significantly since its original development, therefore the area maintains its compact and inviting environment. Back lanes provide access to the rear of some/all buildings and feature remnants of old Coach Houses and ancillary buildings. This is particularly evident along Crown Lane, Bon Accord Crescent Lane and Craibstone Lane, where it is important to maintain the integrity the building feus (boundaries). The issues present in these areas are whereby large areas to the rear have been converted into car parking courts or the construction of bulky extensions, therefore the feu definition has been lost.

View of Bon Accord Crescent - This perspective drawing shows the gently curving terrace of 19 identical 2-storey houses, with basement and attic, designed by Archibald Simpson in the 1820s for the Incorporated Tailors Guild. In 1823, the "Aberdeen Journal" carried an advertisement for building areas to feu. The houses were to be laid out on what had previously been garden ground and the advert boasts "No situation, immediately in the vicinity of Aberdeen, possesses so completely the advantages of free air and fine exposure". The properties overlook the hollow once occupied by the Howe Burn and the area has now been converted into landscaped parkland as part of a conservation area. Houses 3-17 have a curved frontage, while numbers 1 and 2, and 18 and 19 have straight frontages. However, even by the 1950s, most of the houses were being, and still are, used as offices.

The Howe Burn Hollow

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Last modified: 01/09/2013