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The Doric Columns

Educating Eddie

Geographical notes - the school was almost at right angles to Commerce Street and then there were no official supervised crossings or Belisha Beacons - Simply a flaming torch on a white background to warn traffic they were approaching the school.  The green area to the right was what we called the 'Bushies' which were dense and frequent but alas succumbed to the abuse of children and suphourous fumes from stinky Millar's.  On the edge of the picture was the Police Kiosk quite unlike the Dr Who thing. it was a wee hoose with and emergancy telephone on the outside which was operated by a small door connecting you direct to the police station at Lodge Walk - fun for kids to shout obscenities into.  Further to the right was St Nicholas Church site of many a wedding - we only entered the church as a school party for official worship days - Dull black Calvanistic ceremonies that bored us to mischief sitting in the pews.  To the right of the church was Fish Street where we could watch the trans shunting goods and climb on to the parapet of the Tarry Brig.  Up the brae of Hanover Hill to the crest where Heading Hill could be accessed and to the right was Fish Lane that also led to the beach.  Just down fish lane was an archway that led into a cobbled street - Hanover Lane that housed many a family and led to Albion Street.  Over the crest of the Heading Hill was the Public Baths on the left and Hanover Street School with more tenements on the right.  High density Living with close proximity schools Commerce St Infants, Hanover St Primary, Fredrick Street Secondary.

On the other side of Commerce St was the Castle Terrace pavement triangle a keep left zone that formed a dangerous playground for kids as the keep left sign fabricated in cast Aluminium was light-up but for ever being smashed into by careless or drunken motorists.  Edith's vegetable shop was on the Corner and Tammy Begg's Salvage Shop just up towards the Robertson's Chip Shop complete with rats in the cellar next to No.32.

Commerce Street Infants School taken from Castle Terrace (East of Commerce St) To the right was the Nursery school for pre-fives and to the left was the infants with an entrance at the front only used by teachers.. A buttress to Heading Hill towered above the playground at the back where the toilets and shelters were and yet another actual school entrance for the children.  TI was allowed to enter school under age at 4.5 years as my birthday fell on a cusp date.  The reasons may also be economic which enabled my mother to extend her earning capacity instead of looking after me all day.  So we became the latch key generation - the elusive key was put high on the drop side of the stairwell and I had to climb onto the creaky bannister to reach it - hanging on a hook - at great personal risk - any adult could have easily reached it so it may as well have been under the mat.  First day at school was a personal panic as my mother forgot to give me my 'Playtime Piece' - a buttery rowie with jam on it.  After a tearful explanation to my much harassed teacher with a class of crying children i was allowed to go home and fetch it - all of 400 yards away,  I returned content and happy to begin my studies with a slate and a thin brittle slate pencil that eternally broke in use or when dropped.  'The Cat sat on the Mat' was little challenge on the day.  We wiped these important learning advances away with the swipe of a stinking wet rag.  As we progressed we were introduced to the Abacus to demonstrate the art of adding and taking away - later described as addition and subtraction.  The Alphabet was recited phonetically Ah, Bi, Ci, Di etc as we discarded the street language of 'Doric' in favour of pan loaf English.  Such was our ability to reduce language to consonants and vowels we were given speech therapy lessons to smooth away these rough hewn talents and make junior thespians of us all - the rolling R was the easiest challenge to our inadequate epiglottal stop vocalisations. Far's yer Rowie Eddie - 'och a' et et'

Disused the infants school lay empty for many years before becoming a Corporate Office.

Hanover Street Primary School - Opened 1900 overlooking redeveloped and repopulated Wales Street and Albion Street Area and originally the Casino Cinema.

The Headmaster was Mr Cockburn as in the Port Wine and he was a small man who later graduated to Headmaster at Hilton Secondary School in my later years where he supervised my attainment as School Dux Medallion Winner - alas stamped squint and given to cousin Helen Cruden as a keepsake for her admiration of my meagre status attainment.

Opposite the school corner was a general provisions shop that supplied fresh rolls at playtime dispensed by a mentally deficient shop assistant through the Railings that seperated the Girls from the Boys Playgrounds just to the right of the picture.  Very welcome the buttery rolls were too. Up Hanover Street to left were the Public baths where we went once a week for a real shower instead of a tin bath in front of the fire.  This limited our personal odours so offensive to the teachers - my embarrassment was using and old nappie to dry myself despite weekly protestations to my 'ye dinna worry aboot at' Ma.

Albion Street in Aberdeen with a former Bool Road Booth Theatre as a scene of dissolute revelry known as the Penny Rattler, and an ‘after’ scene with the street refurbished and devoid of life and the Theatre replaced by a Mission Chapel.

Hanover Street School is on the right and the completely  Demolished Wales Street / Albion Street (Formerly Bool Road) site is scheduled for a new Beach Boulevard.  This central site was originally an abbatoir but these were cleared and it became a Tram and Bus Terminus.  The Casino Cinema still survives on the left of  Wales Street.  On the right just beyond the cinema Tenements were still intact in my schooldays and the ground opposite the school and the cinema was favoured for playing 'bools tournaments' and was riddled with shallow kypies.  The No Trespass signs are still  prevalent here pending the future use of this land.

Just off the picture was the local Pawn broker shop in a large building approached by external staircase which also had a convenient escape rear entrance near the public toilets at the top of Commerce Street to save ones face if seen going in by a neighbour.  Mild embarrassment of poor families pawning suits or watches weekly to eke out their subsistence in hard times or when the old man drank his weeks wages.

Cummings Park School.

Bramble Brae School
Cummings Pk Drive
AB16 7BL

Hilton Academy, Hilton Drive, Aberdeen, Grampian

It was decided to merge Hilton Academy with Powis Academy - I attended both as a result of being kept on till I matured to the leaving age of 15yrs - Hilton was the better of the 2 schools as far as standards go.

My principal teacher was Mr John Cowie English Teacher,  a very fair and patient man who seldom used corporal punishment unlike my Maths Teacher Mr Frater who excelled in it.  A Polish teacher Mr Zamori also taught technical English and hammered with his strong Polish accent past and present participles into us like bullets of wisdom that passed straight through us leaving heavy doubting wounds.  Spik Doric Min? Sic in a Transit.
His life was made a misery when Dean Martin recorded 'That's Amore' in the mid fifties.  He then changed his name by deed poll to something like Mr Stephens.  Art, Science, Metalwork, and Woodwork were essential outhouses of the main school and were well equipped.  Physical training was little help to emaciated kids who looked forward to a third of a pint of school milk for breakfast.

In schools in Scotland, Dux is a modern title given to the top student in academic  achievement (Dux Litterarum ) in each graduating year. Valedictorian.

Jeannie Robertson (1908 - 1975) 90 Hilton Road

Traditional Scottish Folk Singer. Born in Aberdeen of travelling folk, she spent much of her childhood in Deeside and Perthshire, where she acquired a vast repertoire of traditional music. A folk singer of unique ability, she was made an MBE in 1968 for her contribution to Scottish traditional music and in recognition of her international fame.

Jeannie Robertson: The Great Scots Traditional Ballad Singer (London, 1959)  I had the good fortune to hear her sing with Pete Seeger in the Central Academy Hall in the late 50's when he got his passport back - two superb exponents of the folk tradition - little did i realise she was very adjacent to my school and she had an enormous repertoire of bawdy songs that would make even her blush when singing them to an audience.  It should have been the Music Hall for such a worthy performance.

For some years before his death Robert Gordon thought of founding a Hospital, a residential school for poor boys who would not otherwise be able to receive an education. Because he had no children of his own to leave his money to, in 1729 he wrote a Will, called a Deed of Mortification, in which he bequeathed all his fortune to build and run such a school.  Robert Gordon himself chose where he wished his Hospital to be built, on the site of a former monastery of the Dominicans or Black Friars. The land was free at the time and he was able to purchase it in 1730.

After the cost of building the Auld Hoose, the Governors had to allow the value of Robert Gordon's investments to return to £10,000 before they could afford to admit pupils. Because of this, when the Duke of Cumberland was on his way north with his army to fight against the Jacobites at Culloden, he found the Hospital building empty and decided to use it as a garrison barrack for his troops.  While the officers stayed in the more luxurious Provost Skene's House, 200 of Cumberland's soldiers were billeted in the Auld Hoose. The Hospital was converted into a temporary fort, surrounded by a ditch and earthen ramparts protected by a palisade.  The garden walls were taken down and a well was dug in the grounds.  While they were living there, the troops did quite a lot of damage to the building and the Governors had to put in a claim for damages to the King. This was paid in October 1747.  Finally, after 2 years of repairs, the Hospital was able to open on 10th July 1750.  In 1971, a Well under Room 7 was excavated by pupils. This probably dates from the time of 'Fort Cumberland'.  While the foundations for the new College Library were being dug in Spring 2000, a team from the City of Aberdeen Archaeology department discovered part of the fortifications from Fort Cumberland in the back playground. They dug out part of the ditch, which they were able to date because of pottery, clay pipes and bricks that they found.

Evening Classes - ouch - High speed cramming and little time to comprehend the meaning of it all.

Aberdeen University - Higher education opportunities were denied to both myself and senior brother Sandy at Aberdeen Academy as my mother explained to the encouraging and hopeful Teachers that she could not afford the daily bus fares.  These then were about 2d each way per day a grand total of 10d a week less than 5p).  However to earn a wage we would certainly cycle some 12 miles per day to the Shipyards to receive £2.75 per week. Ach well she had little schooling herself and had little comprehension as to future prospects for her bright but hungry bairns.

"Oor fathers then socht for their bairns
As much o'lear as cud be gi'en;
Sae Colleges they biggit twa-
Thae braif, bauld men o' Aberdeen."

The Mechanics' Institution, founded 1824, and reorganized 1834, has a hall, class-rooms, and a library of 14,000 volumes, in a building erected in 1846, at a cost of £3500. During the year 1872-73, there were at the School of Science and Art 385 pupils; and at other evening classes, 538

Aberdeen Grammar School , 1861-3 architect James Matthews, sited on the edge of the Denburn, before the installation of its illuminating tower clock (popularly known at one time as "the Grammar moon"). In 1990, a disastrous fire gutted the building destroying the library. Famous past pupils included Lord Byron.












Esslemont Avenue and a lad in a splendid cairtie - a wooden box vehicle made from a box, a plank, and odd pram wheels steered by a pivoting front axle

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Last modified: 01/09/2013