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Bridge Street

Bridge Street was developing by the late 1860s and the curving Bath Street joined up with it in 1879.

Although the eastern part of Guild Street was 1st developed in the 1840s it was not until 1867, when a new Joint Station and bridge were constructed in the Denburn valley, that it met Bridge Street and completed the new improved road connections from Union Street to the harbour. The development of the area involved monumental Engineering works; Bridge Street, like Union Street was built on a viaduct of arches (now generally hidden but accessible), while the top of St Catherine's Hill was levelled by some 15ft.

The layout of the 19th century improvers and much of their architecture has survived.


To the west of Union Bridge is Bridge Street, which delves down into the dark rift of the Denburn. Bridge Street was built between 1865 and 1867, and shortly afterwards, the Palace Hotel was put up by the Railway for the benefit of travellers.

The Palace Hotel eventually burned down during 1941, but in its day, a long queue of fish lorries reached back from the Railway Station up towards the Union Bridge. Thus we have a resident population of herring gulls – the best-fed vagrants in Aberdeen that now displace the sparrows and pigeons following the decline in free standing fish stocks. Their raucous brothers in distant Poynernook Road get fresh fish for tea: but the bridge mob feast on cold chips, kebab and vindaloo, spilling from polystyrene pokes discarded by the inebriated clubbers..

The Tram Era with one on the demanding climb. Note the little triangle of shops on the right above the Palace Hotel service road where the Union Bridge arch is clearly visible through the steam engine smoke.  Horse drown cart just disappearing was fully loaded without a rope for restraint of the sacks - these were carefully 'bigged' to lean inwards on all sides for stability and bonded by cross layers. The Suburban Train Booking Office is behind the cart.  The suburban service was first to benefit from the rebuild in 1909 with the Suburban Booking Office built on the corner of Bridge Street and Guild Street. The location enhanced the convenience for regular passengers. The office was connected to platforms 6 to 9 by a footbridge. Of the new platforms, number 7 and 8 were for the Dyce trains and number 9 for those for Culter Station. Inside the booking office was a miniature departure board and a book stall.

Dated 1909. Tall single storey to street elevation classical former Booking Office with distinctive canted corner and 2-storeys to rear former platform level (in commercial use, 2006). Grey granite; channelled rustication to street elevations (East and South) with contrasting deep polished granite base course. Deep cornice above doors and at wallhead. Parapet, balustraded at corner. Pair of large square-headed doorways at corner with moulded keystoned architraves and square panels above. To the rear (East), level with lower platform; round-arched openings with central timber door with large semi-circular fanlight above. Some openings blocked.  Plate glass to openings.Flat Roof with central pyramidal glazed skylight with decorative timber lantern. Coped wallhead stacks. 

Booking Office and Waiting rooms for the former Suburban railway network. The building is situated with the main elevation to the street with the rear connecting to the Railway platform below. The unusual canted street Elevation with a pair of large entrance doors makes this building a significant streetscape feature. The classical detailing is of some quality and it is an interesting survival of Aberdeen´s Suburban Railway which closed in 1937. The large glass skylight and lantern on the roof is a distinctive feature.  This building is a remnant from the initial improvements of the original Joint Station and is situated to its North East. The Joint Station was built in 1867 and precedes the current Railway Station.  Previous to 1867, there had been 2 Railway Companies operating within Aberdeen, the Caledonian Railway and the Great North of Scotland Railway. Each had their own station and it was not unusual for GSNR to refuse to hold the trains if connecting services from the South via the Caledonian Railway (Guild Street Station) were late and to close their station. The Joint Station of 1867 brought these 2 companies under the same roof, but quickly became inadequate for the amount of traffic. Improvements were gradually made to the Station, including the building of new platforms to the West of the Station in 1908, which were primarily for Suburban trains. This building, built a year later, was the Booking Office and waiting rooms for these passengers. The Suburban service closed in 1937 and the building is now converted to commercial use (2006). 

A major antique dealer used to occupy the premises on the left.  Half way up is the bridge over the Windmill Brae and left before it the entrance to the old Palace Theatre / Cinema.  An old sports shop occupied the upper corner.  A sister outlet to the Rubber Shop in George Street.

A horse drawn bus on Bridge Street travelling towards Union Street. The stairs leading to the upper deck can be seen, and the iron wheels must have been very noisy on the cobbled streets. The bus is just passing the American Store whose premises were 'To Let', and Galloway and Sykes, cabinet makers - the latter firm are only listed at 50 Bridge Street between 1887 and 1889.

Horse & Cart Era a more oblique view.  Despite the steepness of Marischal Street, Windmill brae and Market Street which all indicate the former hills of Aberdeen the horses managed to service their loads.  To the left are the steps that lead up to Crown Street.  To right was the service road for the Palace Hotel and the Bridge to Guild Street.  Much advertising on the builders Hoarding of the structure under threat of collapse. Restrained by massive timber braces. The old closed Boot and Shoe shop was replaced by a grander structure - The Suburban Train Ticket Office - see above.

Known originally as Victoria Buildings, this monumental building then the largest in Aberdeen dominates the streetscape in Bridge Street. The scale of the building and its mixture of Classical and Egyptian motifs is unusual in Aberdeen City Centre. Its scale and style is more reminiscent of a City chambers or other municipal building. There is a wealth of decorative detail using both Egyptian and Greek motifs. As part of a wider City Improvement Scheme the Town Council proposed in 1878 that a set of steps between Bridge Street and Crown Street would be a useful addition to the area and would provide a link between Bridge Street and Crown Street. These granite steps lie to the immediate South of Victoria Buildings. Subsequent to the building of the steps, plans for this monumental and grand building were drawn up and given to the Town Council in 1880

The building was conceived as one which would fill the entire block. The original plans show an extra storey and more roof decoration than were incorporated in the final design. Alexander Ellis and Robert Wilson were Aberdeen Architects who were in practice together from 1869-1906. They worked extensively in and around Aberdeen and their output included, in the main, houses, churches and other large office buildings. Note the Papyrus Capitals to the columns.

Image above shows a horse drawn bus on Bridge Street travelling towards Union Street. The stairs leading to the upper deck can be seen, and the iron wheels must have been very noisy on the cobbled streets. The bus is just passing the American Store whose premises were 'To Let', and Galloway and Sykes, cabinet makers - the latter firm are only listed at 50 Bridge Street between 1887 and 1889.

Alexander Dinnie (Photographer) had premises at 3, Bridge Street from 1880-1890, and at 3 Bridge Place from 1881-1892. These were effectively on opposite sides of the same street, about 100 yards from the  Music Hall, with Railway Station about 200 yards further down Bridge Street. The premises at the Bridge Street address, (which the 1890 Aberdeen Street Directory gives as Dinnies home address) has been demolished and is now the site of a Travelodge Hotel, while the Bridge Place address, while still standing has become a Club. |A lithograph of Dinnie (bearded) appeared in the Aberdeen Northern Figaro on September 29th 1888. Although the paper does not identifies him as Alex. Dinnie, no other Aberdonians of that name lived in the City at the time and the silhouette portrait of a photographer, which appeared in the same journal on December 15th 1888 is very likely the same person.

The Royal Hotel - formerly the Bath Hotel and Turkish Baths - on Bath Street, resembling an immense French chateau — also the impressive Venetian Gothic façade of the former Palace Theatre (1898) on Bridge Place. The main thoroughfare of Bridge Street itself was laid down in 1865–7, swooping over the old route in from the south to link Union Street with Aberdeen Joint Station, Guild Street and the Harbour area.

- at the junction of Bridge Place and Windmill Brae in Bath Street was the five-storied Hydropathic and Turkish Bath establishment (1880), with a tower 80 feet high, 6 plunge baths, and a café.

So this is a topographically and historically complex area. As elsewhere in Aberdeen, the Victorian streetscape of Bridge Street, Bridge Place and Bath Street was superimposed or built on top of the alleys and wynds of the medieval burgh. Windmill Brae effectively goes under­ground, passing below Bridge Street and terminating at the Denburn


The Palace Theatre, Bridge Place, Aberdeen was designed by John Rust and built as a Variety Theatre by the Livermore Brothers.

The Theatre, which opened on Monday the 24th of October 1898, was built on the site of the former People's Palace which was destroyed by fire two years earlier. The auditorium was built on 4 levels, Stalls and Pit, Grand Circle, Ampitheatre, and Gallery and is stated to have had seating for 1,800 people. 

The building is designed in the Italian Venetian style of architecture. The front elevation to Bridge Place is divided into a central facade, with 2 side wings; the façade has ornamental fluted pilasters, and is surmounted by a massive cornice and pediment. In the centre is the main entrance, which is ornamented with finely-dressed pilasters of Kemnay stone running up either side, with carved truss blocks over the capitals, and a rich pediment capped by a cornice.  On either side of the main entrance are 2 other large doorways. Every care, it need hardly be said, has been taken to ensure that in the event of a panic there shall be no repetition of the dire circumstances that attended the burning of the old building. In addition to the doors already mentioned, there are 4 giving access to Crown Terrace, and altogether there are 14 exits from the auditorium by which the audience could escape from any outbreak of fire.

Lower Bridge Street from the new Wapping Street
Bridge Street was laid down between 1865-7, linking Union St. with Aberdeen Joint Station, Guild St. and the Harbour area. Bridge St. arches over the old route from the south into Aberdeen via the Hardgate, Windmill Brae and the Green. Bridge St. also links with Bridge Place, which stands on a ridge extending from Holburn St. to Crown Terrace. This ridge slopes steeply down to the harbour, forming a natural ampitheatre which was used in Medieval times for the presentation of various entertainments. Along this ridge were fought the Battles of the Craibstane, the Langstane and the Justice Mills.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013