The Doric Columns
Runs from Justice Street/Park Street/Albion Street down to the Harbour and was the easiest of gradients available for ingress and egress of commercial goods. This street had been initially called Justice Street (Leading to the justicairy of Heading Hill) then Park Lane and ran from Albion Street (Bool Road) to Waterloo Quay between Castlehill and Heading Hill.
Virginia Street. was laid down in the mid-18th century on the reclaimed Shorelands, as were Commerce Street., Sugarhouse Lane, Water Lane, Mearns Street.( formerly Pork Lane), James Street. and the lower end of Marischal Street. Until then, the waters of the harbour had extended to the foot of the Castlehill at high tide. The name of Virginia Street. refers to the expanding trade with the Americas, as does that of nearby Sugarhouse Lane.
Commerce Street School now business premises showing the former playgrounds front and back where the site was cut in at the base of Heading Hill, the green area was full of trees and bushes in its time. The school site had been excavated in to the hillside. The white Gates did not exist when it was a school nor the new developments at the top of Hanover Street which ran behind the school. Taken from Castle Hill and the allotments there have now been grassed over.
At the top of the street what used to be called Park Lane ware some shops Fruit Shop, Ice Cream Cafe, Paper shop, Pawnshop, Public Toilets, Radio/Electrics Shop where we charged the Accumulator, a Garage with a hydraulic lift and a second hand shop with all sorts on display in the window. then the cast Iron Bridge spanned the street between Heading Hill/Castle Hill and with staircases on both sides to reach Heading Hill or the middle terrace of Castle Hill a short lower terrace was used as allotments on the southeast side fortifications. It then traversed Castle Terrace by Commerce St Infants School, Hanover Street at a wide and dangerously busy with traffic intersection.
- In early times the hollow
Heading Hill was but slight, and no bridge was necessary
to connect the 2 hills. By lowering the south end
Park Street/Lane, the depth of the gap between the hills was
increased, and in
the lane was widened and improved
and a Cast Iron Bridge was built over it connecting the 2
Hills. From the Bridge, stone stairs at both ends lead down
to the street below, which is now called Commerce Street
Justice Street. The latter name was
historically the more appropriate because the Bridge is probably
on or near the spot where the
of the North
of Scotland held his Courts. They were usually held
in the open air near a small hill or artificial hillock. A
Court was held near the Castle in
(" Book of Bon-accord,"
p. 375). It is from being near the site where the
were held that
name. The bridge rests upon
four cast-iron ribs, segments of a circle,
from which slender bars rise vertically, supporting a horizontal
roadway. The ribs rest upon cornices in the stone
piers at the ends. On both sides is the following inscription
JOHN DUFFUS & Co., FOUNDERS, ABERDEEN, 1839. The
were shipbuilders and Founders in Fittie. Alas
- Knocket Doon
Onward to the left was the
Commerce Inn, Cigarettes and Provisions Shop, Co-op Grocery and Dairy products,
The Co-op Bakery, the Co-op Butcher's shop and finally the Co-op
Chemist,. On the right was Edith's Veggie Shop, The Fish & Chip Shop, The
Virginia Court Close, the Shoe Menders another Butcher Shop (Sawdust on the
floor and credit available) and then the Licensed Provisions Shop on the corner
of Virginia Street (no Credit but dispensed Clockies of Whuskie) and continued down to the
Harbour past the
opposite 'corner shop' to Peep Peeps pub and Waterloo Quay. There were
Tenements integrated with the Granary Mill on the left. The Granary was the subjected a major
fire circa 1946. This high density living zone was never short of
specialist shops. This image is taken from the Tenement corner of Virginia Street
showing the cul-de-sac in front of the railway where much football was played
and sinister old ladies in black shawls sat at doorways and herded infants while
casting wicked spells on the unwary.
Commerce Street at the junction of Hanover Street, and Castle Terrace with St Nicholas Church and the 'Bushies' green - alas the bushes do not survive.
Past the St Nicholas Church was Fish St (Demolished) and the 'Tarry Brig' over the railway leading to Bannerman Street and Cotton Street, also Miller Street, Footdee. (Formerly Summer Street).
The Commerce Inn Bar (and snug above The Crows Nest) is white painted here and in the background are the Gas and Chemical Works. The picture is taken from the terrace tier of Castle Hill and the trees lined a lower tier near some allotments. a wide and dangerously busy junction then.
The later dressed granite tenements in lower Commerce Street still survive above what used to be a string of Co-op shops, Provisions and Dairy, Bakers, Butchers, and Chemist. |The short extension to the old Virginia Street was terminated by the Waterloo Station Railway - this was a haven for street football against the terminating dyke. Opposite these were old run down tenements with an interior quadrangle for ponies and traps to to be housed and manoeuvred. This space had been taken over in part by Tammie Begg's store who was the poor mans Cocky Hunter. In the approaching close or pend there was coal store with and old man re-selling coal by the bucket (A stane o' coal) for those that could not afford it by the 1 CWT sack. Some 14lbs of coal was about about a firebox full. These resonating internal squares gave rise to the Backie Singers that would croon popular songs that reverberated around the granite rubble walls - windows would open and families would listen enraptured and throw what pennies they could spare to the singer. Probably their gas meter money or rebate. Various trades were at work in ground floor premises such as Cobbler, Butchers, Fish-fryers, Provision Stores, Ice-cream shops, Newsvendors and Sweetie Shops or Cafe's. Pulley driven high level washing lines would traverse the internal court and wet washing would be paid out and pegged from the upper floor windows to form a complete curtain across the gulf till fully dry and then it would be retrieved in favour of an other urgent wash load, thus improving the acoustics for the all but hidden Backie singers.
From the left the Co-op Grocery & Dairy Products one side for sugar, jams, tinned food etc and the other for Eggs, Sliced meats, Cheeses, Milk etc, the Tenement Door to the flats above, The Co-op Bakery for Cakes, Bread, Rowies, Biscuits and Buns , the Co-op Chemist for NHS prescriptions, Syrup of Figs, Castor Oil, Calamine Lotion, and Kaolin Poultice Tins Another tenement door and finally the Co-op Butcher's shop providing Pottit Heid, weird looking Tripe, Sausages and various cheap cuts of meat. All the daily needs for the occupants of a high density living area of the new and old tenement slums lining both sides of Commerce Street, Virginia Street and James Street. As for the staff - hey - lets get we'r Photae took.
The Tenements and shops in the old But and Ben slum side of Commerce Street were all swept away leaving a car park desert where 100s of families were formerly housed, played, did their washing, went to work or school and shopped at the Co-op and other Stores. Although Medieval in original appearance and basic amenities it provided cheap privately rented accommodation for the poorer families. Only the attic window panoramic views remain with the Fittie Church, Balnagask and Girdleness in distance. Gone are the familiar Tammy Begg's stores, Fish and Chip Shops, Provisions stores the Closes and Backies of the 19th Century Tenements
Peep Peep's Bar McEwan's IPA
Rose's Court, 18, Commerce Street
Edith's - Veggie Shop
- Metal, Rag and Bone
The Commerce Inn the Public House by Castle Terrace East - come aerse in! - or ony wye ye like! My mithers refuge where she hide from her continually demanding bairns and enjoy her Mackeson's Milk Stout - Is my ma in 'ere min, - och all hae a look - nah laddie she nae here - mmm says me - ah kent full richt she wis.
Busy traffic scene at the junction of Waterloo Quay, Regent Quay and Commerce Street, horse drawn carts, one hauling cargo in sacks, steam lorry of William Wisely and Sons, Aberdeen, flatbed lorries, lanterns stacked at quayside, gangways for livestock, hand operated davit crane on wheels, barrels and pallets in foreground, street gas lamps, buildings of Regent Quay including the National Hotel Bar, Robert Duthie & Sons Wholesale Merchants building, the shop called 'The New Method', the Aberdeen Newcastle & Hull Steam Co Ltd building at the corner of Regent Quay and Commerce Street, cobbled quay-deck, in the background the Town House clock. Photographer's location: Eaves height at the west end of the Waterloo Quay West single storey goods shed. Direction of photograph: Northwest. The old Sugar processing House stands tall at the end of Sugar 'Hoose' Lane
was opposite the Heading Hill a steep lane that ran down to Albion Street
passing a close leading to Hanover Lane and beyond to the Canal or Railway Bridge back then. A
low Close or Pend led of to a cul-de-sac community of Tenements on the right Hanover
Lane which also led into Albion Street and a good
place to play away from traffic. It appears there was a John Robertson
& Sons, Cooperage at No.67 in 1937. The buildings were cleared as
slums and eventually made way for the Boulevard improvements.
Poorer area Tenants eaked out their meagre existence by pawning anything of value that came to hand such as best suits, Family Heirlooms, Watches etc, in order to meet the rent or replace wages squandered on drink by a depressed father with hungry or sickly children. If the wages were intercepted the following friday such pledges were redeemed at a premium to the money lent against it. Pay day loans are nothing new, The silent sign of the 3 Brass Balls was ever prominent in these zones.
Aberdeen Pawn Brokers
(3 Brass Balls)
MONEY TO LEND.
All conveniently situated on sites near the great unwashed and financially embarrassed communities.
Shunting Engine with the rear of Tenements and Commerce Street School in the Background
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