The Doric Columns
Gilcomston ~ Gilcumstoun ~ Gilcomstown
Skene Terrace Corner
Beyond the Woolmanhill stretched the hamlet of Gilcomston, one of the most ancient suburbs of Aberdeen. The very name takes us back to the 12th century, and its mixture of Celtic and Saxon is an indication, at least, of the racial character of the inhabitants of the Aberdeen neighbourhood as the light of history begins to dawn. The controversy that has long existed as to the origin of the name Gilcomston, is amusingly illustrated in a 50 year old "Survey" of the city. "Going northward (from Schoolhill) through Skene Square you may notice, within a garden on your left, Gilcomston, - the stone from which this suburb has its name. Some will have this 'Gilcom' to have been one thing and some another; the truth is, few or none can tell whether he was 'saint, sage, or savage.' The stone stands about 7 feet above the ground and there is another smaller one at a shorter distance. The appear to have been of Druidical erection."
Our earliest references to Gilcomston tell merely of agricultural or grazing land, or, among other things, of disputes regarding moss-land in the neighbourhood of boundaries which were always ill-defined. The property passed through many hands in the middle centuries - the town always keeping a tight hold on at least certain portions of it. In the 16th century it was the property of the Gordons of Pitlurg. In 1632, through a charter granted by John, Earl of Mar, the lands of Gilcomston came into the hands of the notable Aberdeen family, Menzies of Pitfodels, and in 1672 the Scottish Parliament granted a ratification in favour of William Menzies of Pitfodels, to the lands and barony of Pitfodels, "As also all and haill the lands of the toun of Gilkhamstoun, with the milne, milne-lands, multurs, and sequills therof, Togidder with all and sundry toftis, croftis, outsettis, pairts, pendicles, and pertinents of the same." Only a year afterwards Sir Andrew Fletcher uncle and tutor of Menzies of Pitfodels, sold the lands of Gilcomston to the town for 26,500 merks, £1452 4s 5d sterling. As pertaining to one particular branch of the public revenue or another, Gilcomston remained for many years the property of the town.
The commencement of the actual feuing of the lands of Gilcomston dates
from that eventful period, 1748, when the Town Council enacted "that
proper persons be appointed to put the lands of Gicomstone in several lots as
the Council should think proper." Houses very quickly began to spring up, and by
the end of the century there was a considerable village where Upper Denburn
and Jack's Brae are still, with the outlying hamlet and quarries of
Loanhead, near the present site of Loanhead Terrace.
A survey of Old & New Aberdeen in 1746 by G & W Paterson with an inset map of Scotland and numerous annotations on the nature of the adjoining land, crops etc.
Gilcomston Steps, at the foot of Skene Square.
Part of old Gilcomston, these 18th century labourers' houses were known as "the rotten holes" and were among the very worst slums in the city, even by the standards of the mid 19th century. One end house with an elevated sign was used as a Smithy. All were demolished to make way for the Denburn Valley Railway, c.1866.
Rotten Holes were the name of rat holes and this place name also appears on Pattersons Map of 1746.near Silverton Hospital.
Sillerton - The origin of the Sillerton name is not clear, but it is believed that, in Robert Gordon's lifetime, he was known as Gordon of Silverton (siller being Scots for silver), and on Patterson's Map, the Gordon’s school is identified as Silverton Hospital.
Gilcomston Steps, from Spa Street, to Skene Square
The Boxroom - Skene Sq./ Forbes St
It is shown as the Hard Ward in Patersons Map 1746
Short Loanings - a Loaning is a 'country road', it is a long
time since this part of the city was in the country. Nearby, Craigie Loanings
another road, which uses the same name. Early Houses had forestairs, which were
once very much a part of Scottish architecture but are now rarely seen. The 1861
the Census showed that 34% of all Scottish dwellings had only one room and 37%
had two rooms. Many would have been of this appearance.
Previous to 1756 there was one solitary farmhouse. Houses very quickly began to spring up by the end of the 18th Century, and by then there was a considerable village where Upper Denburn and Jack's Brae are still, with the outlying hamlet and granite quarries of Loanhead, near the present site of Loanhead Terrace. There was also a well at the head of Jack's Brae, a few feet from the end of Gilcomston Mill. Jack's Brae took its name from John Jack, farmer at Gilcomston
Ach - I fine mine skelpin doon Jacks Brae in eh snaw min. Soakin weet n freezin caul wie rosie chiks en gettin a row fae ma fur bein se daft!
The houses on the left were never there when I was a lad. It was just waste ground right down to the bottom from the backies of the houses on Northfield Place. There was a lane at the bottom that ran up the side of Skene Street School to meet Skene Street. At the top was a wee shoppie where we used to go when we had tuppence to get a Vimto drink made from a cordial syrup diluted with water of course and served in a tall clear glass bottle which had to be handed back. Fars the bairns these days, - no street games like Leave ee ooooh! kick eh cannie! and nae sna ba fights. Very few if any groups of kids go out playing these days, summer or winter. Sad really as half the fun was inventing and innovating fun and games with your pals and exploring your stamping ground of course. I dare say Jacks Brae looks rather different these days. - Doug P
In the 19th century, the Inner Marches between Hardgate and Spital were defined at intervals by wall marks 'CR'. Two survive, one situated at the rear of the foot pavement on the South West side of Jack's Brae about 60 yds South East of Northfield Place; the other is situated at the edge of a grass verge adjacent to the pavement on the South West side of Upper Denburn. Rectangular in section, it measures 0.31m in breadth by 0.15m in thickness and stands to a height of 0.38m. The top of the North East face of the stone is bevelled and bears the incised letters CR, standing for City Royalty.
March Lane, a narrow lane in the Rosemount area of Aberdeen had a number of small houses with pantiled roofs. The rather rundown nature of the lane hid the fact that it stood on the boundary of the City of Aberdeen. At the end of the lane there was a dressed granite stone with the letters CR incised on it. These stood for City Royalty and up to the 19th century, the Town Councillors would inspect these Boundaries or Marches to check that such landmarks had not been removed. A series of such stones marked what was known as the Inner Marches and another series with the letters ABD marked the Outer Marches which bounded the Freedom Lands, including the lands granted to the City by Robert the Bruce in 1319
A Tannery and Dye Works were close to the Denburn for a supply of water, some ‘Handloom’ factories, the Rosemount Works and Winery, and the Gilcomston Brewery
The Gilcomston Dam, west of the new Grammar School now filled up. The Denburn's course now ends in a sewer in Forest Road. Though now quite lost to sight its course is shown on Taylor's Map, 1773. Gilcomston Dam was not formed till the town bought the lands of Gilcomston in 1580, but it was at this dam that the supply of water for the town and the Upper and Nether Mills was taken off from the Denburn.
The formation of the Dam at Gilcomston may be assigned to the time of the erection of the mill at Baker Street, because the town had a dam of its own called the Loch. The Lower Mill of Gilcomston was on the south side of Baker Street, and in connection with it there was afterwards erected Gilcomston Brewery, for which the mill ground the malt used in brewing. The mill wheel served also to pump from a deep well the water required for the brewery and a distillery attached to it. This had a prejudicial effect on the Well of Gilcomston, a strong spring on the North side of Baker Street, which had been pressed into the service of the town. It sent water only to the Well of Spa and a watering trough at the end of the Infirmary.
Leadside Road - Leadside was laid out on part of the Gilcomston property. The name refers to the lade or stream which ran from Gilcomston Dam to the Gilcomston Mills at the top of Jack's Brae. It was drained and filled about 1907. This is one of the oldest granite-built streets.
THE GILCOMSTON MILLS
Gilcomston Parish Church The church is located at the north end of Summer Street at its junction with Skene Terrace and was built in 1771 as a Chapel of Ease within the parish of Old Machar. It was connected to the city of Aberdeen by the steep, crooked Mutton Brae at the west end of the Schoolhill below the site that would later house Triple Kirks. In the Denburn area there was a number of workers, especially weavers, who had become established in this district by the mid-18th century. In Jack's Brae, Leadside and Loanhead there were also other small settlements that increased the number of people living in the area. The Church was built in the Denburn area to accommodate this growing population which at the time was too far away from the parish church of Old Machar.
Summer Street and Gilcomston Kirk with a demolished corner house leaving the fireplaces yawning at adjacent wall decoration. a fire in every room even for the attic flat and some residual storage space.
French Invasion Scare - Aberdeen
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