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The Gallowgate

In 1716, a fire broke out at the Gallowgate, which very soon extended itself to other parts of the Town; many houses were destroyed, and the Council made a liberal contribution for the relief of the sufferers. This calamity was not long after followed by apprehensions of a famine, from a continued state of unfavourable weather; to counteract this evil, the Magistrates and Council, with the neighbouring gentry, supplied the town with 4000 bolls of meal, and imported a considerable quantity of grain from Holland. 

Some Closes, such as Smith's and Peacock's, adjacent to the east end of Union Street, exhibit the lower grades of civilisation only a few steps apart from the higher: and other places, such as the Courts branching from Gallowgate, were about the dingiest and most unwholesome to be found anywhere in a British town.

Much of the Auld City was swept away in the major slum clearance programmes of the 1890s and 1930s. The Gallowgate, surmounted by the 15th century ‘Mar’s Castle’ – the town house of the Earl of Mar, demolished 1897 – was once compared with the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

The Gallowgate, from Broadgate (Broad Street) northwards, steeper and more winding than now, was the medieval route to the then place of execution on Gallowgate Hill, also known as Windmill Hill, later as the Port Hill because it was near the Gallowgate Port, one of the 6 gates or ‘ports’ allowing entry to the medieval town. Aberdeen was built on 7 hills, like Rome, and the Port Hill was the highest of the 7.  

7 Hills - Gallow or Port Hill, Castle Hill, Heading Hill, St Katherine's Hill, Schoolhill, Woolmanhill, ?

From the mid-18th century until as recently as 1960, this site was occupied by the huge Porthill Factory, originally manufacturing linen thread and cloth.   The name, but nothing else, continues in the blocks of flats known as Porthill Court, opposite Aberdeen College.   The Gallowgate is an extraordinarily historic thoroughfare, once compared with the Royal Mile in Edinburgh; all kinds of interesting and important things happened there, but one would never know to look at it now.   There seems almost to have been a systematic attempt by the authorities to obliterate all evidence of past settlement, industry, architecture, history and culture.   The Gallowgate of the present-day would scarcely look out of place in a run-down steel-making town in some remote and insignificant province of the former USSR; the wrong end of Ukraine, perhaps.

Porthill Factory, erected in the 1750's and used by Milne, Cruden and Co. for the manufacture of linen thread.  Mr David Shaw was Clerk and Partner there.

The name ‘Porthill Court’ is the one official acknowledgement that the Port Hill, opposite Aberdeen College on the Gallowgate, was and remains the highest of the 7 hills on or around which Aberdeen stands, so-named after the Gallowgate Port, which guarded the northern entrance to the Burgh.   The huge Porthill Factory (linen, textiles) stood on this site for about 200 years, from about 1750 until its demolition in 1960, and 1000's of Aberdonians must have worked there, but somehow it already seems to have been air­brushed from the collective memory.  the factory, which was by the 19th Century known as the Porthill Factory, was taken over by Samuel Willans,  stoneware manufacturer.

Where the Gallowgate merges into Broad Street seems the proper place to locate what is termed in the old records of the town the Braid Gutter. This name occurs frequently, because it was a landmark or boundary line on crossing which bearers of burdens from ships discharging cargo at the quay were entitled to an addition to their hire. In 1490 the Town Council enacted that for carrying a barrel from the quay at Shore Brae to the Braid Gutter pynours and carters should get 1 penny Scots, and 2 pennies if they carried it beyond the Braid Gutter. Half these tarrifs was allowed for back burdens.  In subsequent centuries, however, larger sums, 4d and 6d, were allowed. In 1749 we find mention of "the Gallowgate Gutter or Head of Broad Street," which seems to settle that the Braid Gutter was a broad channel crossing the south end of the Gallowgate to allow the sewage and rain water from the west side of the street to cross it and run down the narrow lane between Littlejohn Street and Marischal College to the pools on the east side of West North Street. The low area there was drained by the Powcreek Burn.  In recent excavations on the east side of the Gallowgate it was seen that there had been a deep hollow where it joined on to Broad Street, which had afterwards been filled up to the present level.

Gallowgate looking towards Mounthooly.

From the end of the 16th century until 1776 there was a gibbet on 'Gallows Hill' - (near the Broad Hill) which overlooked the Links and, from the early 20th century, the Pittodrie Stadium, hence its later description as ‘Miser’s Hillie’ – it afforded a free view of the AFC football matches.   It was approached from the Tolbooth or Castlegate via the Justice Port, or Thieves’ Port, now Justice Street, on which the heads and dismembered limbs of executed criminals were displayed.    Otherwise, the bodies of criminals were covered in tar and left hanging in chains or in a kind of cage for years and decades, to discourage persons of similarly malign intent.   Gibbets were strategically placed on the main routes into the town for the same reason – there was one at the Brig o’ Dee, for the benefit of those approaching the Burgh from the south.

The Aberdeen Journal, February 17, 1802
Houses and Ground to be Sold - To be sold by public roup, within the house of George Ronald, vintner in Aberdeen, on Friday the 26th curt. at 6 o'clock afternoon, if not previously disposed of by private bargain, - That Piece of GROUND, belonging to James Smith, Blacksmith, lying on the eastside of the road leading from the Gallowgate-head towards Inverury, measuring 75 feet in front, and upwards of 124 feet backward, with the Dwelling House and Smiddy built thereon.  The garden is well fenced, and stocked with fruit trees and bushes, and has an excellent pump-well; and the situation of the premises is extremely desirable, being on the line of the new road making out to the Gallowgate-head, and also fronting a cross road presently making out towards Barkmill. (Shown in the left Ring)

Cooper Co's Court, 12 Gallowgate
Gordon's (H) court, 14 Gallowgate
Emslie's court, 26 Gallowgate
Ewen's court, 42 Gallowgate
Anderson's Court, 46 Gallowgate
Chapel Court, 59 Gallowgate
Duncan's court, 74 Gallowgate
Dingwall's Milne's Court, 27 Gallowgate
Ferguson's Court, 30 Gallowgate
Jopp's Court, 34 Gallowgate
Henderson's Court, 46 Broad street
Smith's Court, 49 Gallowgate
McLean's Court, 50 Gallowgate
Reid's court, 54 Gallowgate
Poors' Hospital Court, 56 Gallowgate - Led to the Girls Hospital
Milne's (W.) court, 60 Gallowgate
Rhind's court, 64 Gallowgate
Milne's (Bailie) court, 65 Gallowgate
Port Hill Court 68 Gallowgate
Plasterer's Court, 70 Gallowgate
Mackay's court, 80 Gallowgate
Court, 86 Gallowgate
Harvey's court, 90 Gallowgate
Henderson's court, 91 Gallowgate
M'Gregor's court, 99 Gallowgate
Beatties' Court, 102 Gallowgate
Moir's Court, 103 Gallowgate
Roper's Court, 107 Gallowgate
Davidson's Court, 111 Gallowgate
Ferguson's (J) Court, 108 Gallowgate
Smith's (J.) Court, 113 Gallowgate
McCook's Court, 116 Gallowgate
Shewan's Court, 119 Gallowgate
Duncan's (D) Court, 120 Gallowgate
Henderson's (A) Ct. 123 Gallowgate
Henderson's Court, 129 Gallowgate
Simpson's Court, 139 Gallowgate
Milne's (Robert) Court, 143 Gallowgate
Philip's Court, 147 Gallowgate
Burr's Court, 152 Gallowgate
Henderson's (W) Ct, 161 Gallowgate
Berry lane, from 181 Gallowgate to 65 Loch St

Charges were preferred against Hugh Harper, labourer, residing at 5 Paterson's Court, Gallowgate, Aberdeen, to the effect that, on the afternoon of the 4th November, he had in his possession on the south bank of the River Don, about 20 yards below Mugiemoss Dam, a clip or gaff under such circumstances that it was evident he intended to catch salmon by means thereof, contrary to the Act. Accused was liable to a penalty not exceeding £5, with expenses.  W Rennie, a Water Bailiff, residing at Woodside, stated that he was on duty near Mugiemoss Dam - below the dyke - when he saw the accused on the south bank of the river. He watched accused, and afterwards crossed the river in a boat.  Harper was working the gaff, but when witness came within 20 yards of where accused was working, the latter threw the gaff into the river and made off.  He was caught, however, and his only remark was that they had not a clear case against him. Another Bailiff stated that he was along with the previous witness when they saw accused working with a gaff. They charge him with poaching.  Previous convictions were proved against the accused, and Sheriff Robertson imposed a fine of £5, with £1 8s of expenses, the alternative being 30 days' imprisonment.

Gallowgate & Port Hill Map

The Jopps
Mr Andrew Jopp (Founder of the Society of Advocates) practised from offices at Jopp's Court, 40 Broad Street Aberdeen, convenient for the local Court buildings, the Mercat Cross, and for the centre of the business community.  Mr Jopp had a high profile in local circles and was to become Trustee of the newly founded Aberdeen Savings Bank. He was also to become Treasurer, then President of the Society of Advocates. It is little wonder that with his prolific background the firm was to flourish.

Mr Jopp later entered into partnership with his son Alexander, who following in his footsteps became clerk and manager of Aberdeenshire Canal Company, a Director of the respected North of Scotland Bank (a bank which was later to merge with the Clydesdale Bank) and a Director of the innovative Great North of Scotland Railway Company.  The Jopps are well remembered by the City since they lent their name first to Jopp's Courts and now Jopp's Lane, a small street nestling behind the City's George Street not far from the location of their 1st offices.
Jopp's Court, 31, Gallowgate
Jopp's Court, 40, Broad Street, and 11, Queen Street
Jopp's Lane, from St. Andrew Street to John Street

The Aberdeen Journal, February 17, 1802
Houses and Ground to be Sold - To be sold by public roup, within the house of George Ronald, vintner in Aberdeen, on Friday the 26th curt. at 6 o'clock afternoon, if not previously disposed of by private bargain, That Piece of GROUND, belonging to James Smith, Blacksmith, lying on the eastside of the road leading from the Gallowgate-head towards Inverury, measuring 75 feet in front, and upwards of 124 feet backward, with the Dwelling House and Smiddy built thereon. The garden is well fenced, and stocked with fruit trees and bushes, and has an excellent pump-well; and the situation of the premises is extremely desirable, being on the line of the new road making out to the Gallowgate-head, and also fronting a cross road presently making out towards Barkmill.

No 1 Seamount Place. across the road from Port Hill Sabbath
We all had cellars on each landing, and the poor coal man had to carry the 1cwt (50Kg) bags up the stairs. We all had a cold tap and sink on each landing. (No running water in the house,), but there were only 2 toilets on our floor, which the whole house had to share. We had no wash house or drying green. The yard behind the building had once been the old city stables, and we had no access to it. There was 4 of us living there at one time, before we got re-housed. Our 3 bedroom house in Kaimhill was like paradise by comparison.

The building on the right is Port Hill Sabbath School, the next opening on the right is Seamount Place, and the high Porthill factory.

Our windows are the 1st 3 above the Gallowgate shops.  You are looking down the Gallowgate towards Mounthooly. Some would be interested to know the year of this picture, as their great grandparents lived there before their folk.  An eldest brother would have been born into that same house, and that would have been 1929. Hunters Grocer and paper shop would have been to the left of the children, at the head of Young Street.  

The Seamount Steps - stairs leading from West North Street to the Gallowgate which my mother trachled up and doon twice a day.  We would make the same effort to reach the Play Park with Swings and Maypole in an effort to wreck em or kill ourselves with centrifugal forces on roundabouts at high speed. 

It was close to where the Social Services Offices were.  The sight of a bleeding Christ on the Cross at the Kirk was less than re-assuring but in my day there were no fences - scorched earth only. 

In 1602 the Town Council ordered the erection of a Windmill for making meal at the Gallowgate Head. This was completed in 1605, and Gordon's plan (1661) shows the sails of a Windmill on the north end of Seamount Place above the Back Causeway or Back Butts to West North Street level with the Gallowgate Port. This may also be the site of the Original Hangman's Gibbet associated with the Gallow Gate or Port

The Medieval Vennel Lane or Gordon's Wynd would have been level with and approached the position of the Wynde Mill Hill or Port Hill on the now West North Street escarpment of Seamount.

Porthill (Port Hill) Gallowgate - Complete with Pawn Broker Sign (New Loan Co., 3-5 Seamount Place) and the recently closed Allan's Store opposite.

ALLAN'S Public Supply Stores,
386 George Street, 73 Catherine Street, 166 and 177 Gallowgate, 285 George Street (Corner of Craigie Street, 24 Rosemount Place, 17 Justice Street, 1 Holborn Road, and 137 Crown Street,
Selected Hams and Bacon. Fresh Butter and Eggs. Choice Cured Butter. Gouda & American Cheese Jams and Jellies.
The Grand Central Cinema opened for James Donald's circuit of Cinemas, and was a conversion of Allan's Stores at 285 George Street

Seamount Place started at No 1 Gallowgate end, and continued to No 5 1/2. Round the back of there was the old narrow stairs and some houses, leading down to West North Street. (There are still stairs there, but obviously not the original ones.) Seamount Place continued up to the Primary School, which was known as Porthill.

Porthill Court may have started near a street well at 68 Gallowgate, and carried through to Seamount Place. (the Back Hillie)  Note the Lattice Frame Crane of Barry Henry & Cook's Yard in the misty background.

Seamount Place carried on down the back of the school and St Margaret's Church to exit at the "Big Stairies" as in the picture above. 

The Swings were always known to us as the Seamount Swings. There was 2 others, 1 in the Castle Hill Barracks and also at the Sea Beach Donkey Rides.  The donkeys and ponies were stabled at the Old Brewery site in Virginia Street.  In the old maps, Seamount Place had no Stairs, and the Port Hill had carried on to North Street, now West North Street. There are few pictures to be found of that site, as it was demolished in the late 1800's.

St Margaret's Church RC - (see inset above)
The Gallowgate was a slum area, of narrow streets and closes, many named after the Landlord of the tenement. The work began with the removal of the Sisters to a house in Ferguson’s Court, off the Gallowgate. The 1st services being held in a room there. In 1867 a separate mission-room was hired in Seamount  Place. It was a large bare room, without any ornament of any kind,  except that on the altar there stood a pair of very plain  candlesticks, with a cross and vases. There was a surpliced choir,  gathered from the streets and closes around. In 1870 a School Chapel was built on the Port Hill, with an  entrance from Ferguson’s Court, and this was dedicated on  November 9th, 1870, by Bishop Suther, in presence of the Primus.  Friar John Comper soon became so engrossed with the work in the Gallowgate that he was forced to choose between St Johns and St Margaret's.  This was described as Mr Comper choosing to move from “ill paid S. John’s to unpaid S. Margaret’s, or as it was put by Mr Norval Clyne, he chose the unpopular path from Auchterless to Auchterlesser. Not only did Fr Comper lose his financial security but he was reduced from being an Incumbent to assume title of Priest-in-Charge. However due to Comper’s hard work St Margaret’s was raised from the status of an Incumbency at the Diocesan Synod in 1871. It was soon found that a School Chapel did not suffice for the work of either School or Church, and in 1879 separate schools were built. St Margaret’s was then consecrated as a Church on October 1st 1879, by Bishop Suther. The work at St Margaret's continued to prosper but he still felt empowered to take the gospel into more deprived parts of the East End. Hence in 1886 he “opened a Gordon Mission Hall in Justice Street., to which no one could be admitted who wore a hat or a bonnet”.  St Margaret’s Church which was perhaps the 1st stone vaulted ceiling built in Aberdeen since the 16th Century”.  The thought was cherished that someday it might be found possible to rebuild the older part of the Church in harmony with the new addition. In 1892 Ninian drew the plans for the new Scottish Gothic Chapel, with its tower like east end, in connexion with the new Convent in the Spital.

Middle School
The Middle School was one of the group of schools built during the decade following the establishment of the Schools Board in 1872. It was the scene of the Great Haircut Riot. It used to be the practice of school medical offîcers to give haircuts to verminous children. On 16 June 1919 a crowd of about 200 angry mothers gathered outside the Middie School where girls were being deloused without their parents being warned.  Minor breakages occurred.  Further disturbances took place throughout the day but within 2 days all the pupils were back in class.  Middle School, originally Gallowgate School, closed in 1975 after exactly 100 hundred years.

Demolition of the Gallowgate Middle School, in advance of a high rise  development, permitted excavation of a potential medieval frontage site. 19th century tenements and a school swimming pool on the frontage had destroyed potential deposits, although some productive areas were left undisturbed.  A large late 12th/early 13th century pit was excavated which contained over 50 boots and shoes, belt fragments and leather trimmings from shoemaking suggesting waste from a cobbling area. A large amount of bone, off-cuts of antler and a wooden boat paddle were also excavated from the pit. This may confirm that this area of Aberdeen was an industrial zone in the medieval period, as excavations at 53-59 Gallowgate  on the opposite side of the road revealed similar evidence of industrial activity

The Ports or Gates
The Upper and Netherkirkgate were the roads ‘above’ and ‘below’ the Mither Kirk of St. Nicholas. The narrow street to the west of the Kirk nowadays known as Back Wynd used to be called Westerkirkgate.  The Upperkirkgate Port was the last of the 6 medieval town gateways to be demolished, sometime after 1794. It stood near the foot of the Upperkirkgate, just beyond No. 42, the gable-ended 17th century house which is still to be seen there now.  The original 6 ports – solid walls pierced by gateways – had become an obstruction to the flow of traffic, having been in existence from the 1st half of the 15th century.  The other 5 ports were the Netherkirkgate Port, controlling movement around the north side of St. Katherine’s Hill; the Shiprow or Trinity Port, (hence Trinity House and Quay) checking entry from the south side of St. Katherine’s Hill and the harbour; the Justice or Thieves’ Port to the north-east of the Castlegate, demolished 1787; the Futty Port on Futty Wynd, to the south-east of the Castlegate, and the Gallowgate Port on Port Hill, controlling movement from Old Aberdeen and the North.

The northern entrance to the City was guarded by the Gallowgate Port, at the east end of Young Street.  Adjacent was Windy Wynd, now annexed to Spring Garden, this name tells us that it was once just outside the town. This Port was also called the Causey or Calsie Port, which name might have been given to it because at it the causewaying of the Gallowgate began. Causewayend (Cassie-end locally) must be a newer name, dating from the time when the causewaying was extended a 1/4 of a mile farther out to the City Parish Boundary, where "Causewayend" may be made out on a house on the north side of the road. In 1518 the Gallowgate Port was considered ancient, and it was adorned with the Royal Arms. These may have been put up when Aberdeen was made a Royal Burgh, or they may have been put up in Honour of James IV. in 1501, when he passed through the Port and inspected the building operations at King's College.

Young Street looking towards the Gallowgate and Seamount Place site of the Gallowgate or Causey Port

In 1769 Bishop James Grant, vicar apostolic’ of the Lowland district of Scotland, and the fourth in succession from Mr. Robert Strachan, was in charge of the mission since there was no priest available. He was then lodging with Mr. Patrick Leslie, hat maker, ‘next door to the fountain in the middle of the Gallowgate’. 

In those days Mass was normally said in the priest’s lodging if it offered suitable accommodation, or in a room hired for the purpose as Mr. George Gordon hired a garret in the Gallowgate in 1749, or in a private house like that of Menzies of Pitfodels in the Castlegate. But it had been apparent for some time that, owing to an increase in numbers, a more commodious meeting place had become necessary.  This increase, Bishop Grant tells us, came from an influx of poor people from the country and from members of Irish Woolcombers who had settled in Aberdeen - surely a very early and isolated example of Irish immigration

City Royal Bar on the Gallowgate, just prior to demolition - "The City Royal" called affectionately "Guvelocks" which was the name of an old nearby street.  It is at the bottom right of the Gallowgate en-route to Mounthooly. The arched part to the right leading to a backie and an illegal bookie, seems to be already demolished. you can see the boarded up windows of Sheloohan's shop, which was right opposite Berry Lane.  The Bookie in the Backie

The Bonny Wife's Inn stood in the Gallowgate at the beginning of the 17th Century

Soapy Ogston's Grand Facade - Ogston and Tennant - yes there's money in tallow and wax - he built a grand hoose in Ardoe

Ogston & Tennant, aka "Soapy Ogstons" 111 Gallowgate - were a firm of soap and edible fat manufacturers and their listing in the General Directory shows that their premises were at 92 Loch Street which is directly behind the building shown in the Gallowgate. This building was subsequently the main office of City Taxis in the 60s and that their vehicles used the yard behind the premises in Loch Street. Ythan, Morven, Cruden & Ardoe - the four club houses of the YMCA in Crown Street run by the legendary Commie.

Next door is the infamous Blue Lamp Public House a favourite with the University Students and Climbing Fraternity later to become a Mecca for Jazz Aficionados.

Blandford Supplies were at 137 Gallowgate, the gable end of that row of buildings, next to Aberdeen College. Entrance to Candle Close Galleries is between Blue Lamp premises and 135 Gallowgate.

An advert for Birds custard Powder opposite the Blue Lamp and single decker omnibus.

Gallowgate Church, the misty outline of Porthill School can be seen at the top right side of the picture. As can just be seen, it was high on the hill behind the Lad's Club.   Next door is Forsythe's Butchers Shop


Forsyth the Butcher 159 Gallowgate 1943


25th April, 1942
High Explosive bomb falls at Seamount Place; noted as damaging a church by the Gallowgate "near the Lads Club".


This is inside the Porthill Sabbath building, . This was at the junction of Seamount Place and the Gallowgate. and opposite Young Street.



R A B Sim - Gallowgate Sweeties

Provost Skenes House - Guestrow






HENRY GRAY recommends his stock of Dresses, Mantles, Millinery, Underclothing, Gloves, Hosiery, Carpets, Rugs, Bedding, Blankets, Haberdashery, etc.
The Dressmaking, Millinery and Upholstery Departments are all under efficient management.
High Class Tailoring at Popular Prices. HENRY GRAY recommends his Stock of Suitings, Serges and Tweeds. The Making-up Department is under the charge of a cutter of recognised ability. Every garment guaranteed as
to quality and fit.
GREYFRIARS BUILDINGS (Cornet of Broad Street and Gallocugate), ABERDEEN.

Student's Union Building
The former Aberdeen University Student Union building occupies a particularly prominent corner location at the bottom of Upperkirkgate with sight lines down the length of Broad Street and Castlehill. The former Henry Gray Drapery Store. The building is finely detailed with machicolation, ogee-arched windows and octagonal turret. The continuous shop fronts to ground floor are relatively unaltered, helping to anchor the building to its corner site.  Late 19th century. 3-storey and attic `Aberdeen Baronial' university building on prominent corner site with shops at ground level. Contains fine series of murals by Robert Sivell and Alberto Morocco. Polished granite ashlar with finely tooled dressings. Regular fenestration with chamfered cill courses and string course between 1st and 2nd floor; continuous basket-arched plate glass shop windows at ground.

Main entrance at canted SE corner flanked by bipartite ogee-arched windows; canted oriel windows to upper floors; glazed octagonal turret to attic with domed copper roof; stylised machicolated parapet with terminal gablets; gabled ashlar wallhead dormers with exaggerated finials.  8-bay to Upperkirkgate elevation: centre right bay with pierced consoled balcony at 2nd floor; 3-bay wallhead attic storey supporting gabled viewing balcony with finial and ogee roofed octagonal turrets. Symmetrical 11-bay to Gallowgate elevation: canted oriel window to centre bay, as at corner, flanked by dormers.  Timber sash and case plate glass windows. Mansard roof, grey slates; ashlar coped skews; ashlar stacks.

Sivell's Bar with shallow barrel-vaulted ceiling and proscenium arched stage with geometric mid 20th century railings.  The Bar contains fine series of particularly interesting murals by Robert Sivell. Sivell was born in Paisley in 1888, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art as well as in Paris and Florence, and also worked as an engineer in Canada and America. In 1919 he helped found the Glasgow Society of Painters and Sculptors. He was a renowned and committed figurative painter. The murals were begun in 1938 and completed in 1953, and cover over 1,300 square feet. During this time he was Head of the Painting Department at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. He was helped by 2 of his former pupils, Alberto Morocco (also a renowned mural painter) and Gordon S. Cameron. The panels depict the journey of life, from Creation to Death, including one illustrating the Blitz. The Pastoral panel on the East wall includes portraits of Sivell himself (or at least his back), and his wife and daughter. Sivell retired from the School the following year in 1954. The distinguished Scottish portrait artist and director of the Glasgow School of Art, Sir William O Hutchison, described the work as 'the greatest mural painting carried out in Scotland during this century, and perhaps any other, and one must express the hope that it will be preserved'. The City of Aberdeen Art Gallery hold formative cartoons for the project, as well as some scaled down replicas of the completed paintings.

1789 Survey Map - Alexander Milne

A hospital for the maintenance and education of 5 orphan or destitute boys, and as many girls, and for which, at present, a house has been hired in the Gallowgate, was founded by a bequest of Alexander Shaw, in the year 1807. The boys are apprenticed, and the girls placed out as servants; the former, on the expiration of their indentures, and the latter after 5 years' service in the same family, receive a premium of £10. There are also numerous religious societies.

Gilbert Gerard's House 1787 in the Gallowgate.  Rev. Gilbert Gerard, MA., DD. 1760 - 1815
Demolition in c.1905. This building in the Gallowgate was bought by the Managers of the Poors Hospital in the early 1800's as a home for the maintenance and education of orphan boys or boys of very poor parents, and was known as the Boys Hospital.  In 1828, it was realised that there was a need for a similar home for girls. The managers decided to acquire another property in the Upperkirkgate to which the boys were transferred and this building became the Girls Hospital in 1829.  The girls, aged 6-14 years, were instructed in the 3R's as well as sewing, knitting and household work, for the purpose of finding them positions in service. In 1871, a new building was erected in King Street, when the Boys and Girls Hospital was place under one roof. This building in the Gallowgate was demolished in 1905 as part of the re-development of the area.  Aye - Knocket Doon

Gerrard Street with 2-rr;s runs from the Gallowgate to George Street


As recorded by Ray Fisher on "Willie's Lady."  From the singing of Jeannie Robertson. Belle, Shiela, and Cathie Stewart sing a different version on their recording "The Stewarts of Blair." This version uses the first 4 verses given here (with differences in dialect), but uses the final verse as a chorus

Betsy Bell

O my name is Betsy Bell, in the Gallowgate I dwell.
Nae doot you'll wonder whit I'm daein' here.
Well, I'm lookin' for a man, be he auld or be he young,
And onything in breeks will dae wi' me.

Well, 'twas on last Friday nicht I met auld Sandy Wricht,
And he asked me for tae be his lovin' bride.
But I couldnae let him see I was desperate as could be,
So I tellt him for tae come awa' inside.

Well, he jumpit at the chance, aye, it fairly made me dance,
And I gied tae him my answer there and then,
But when I'd bought my wedding frock, he said,
"Lord, it's a' a joke!"
O, I wonder fit's a dae wi' a' the men.

So if there's onybody here wha wad like a nice wee dear,
Although I'm only three score and ten,
Be he young or be he auld, curly-heided, fringed, or bald,
O, I wonder fit's a dae wi' a' the men.

For of lads I've had my share; I've had a score or mair,
But why they threw me up I dinna ken.
For I'm neither prood nor shy, that the lads should pass me by.
O, I wonder fit's a dae wi' a' the men.

(sung after every other verses) and adds 2 more double verses, in the first of which Betsy complains at another woman's success in finding husbands while the 2nd is devoted to her own thrift  and financial security.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013