David Anderson of Finzeauch,
commonly known by the appellative of "Davie do a'-thing," was noted for his
mechanical genius, and in the year
promoted the improvement of the harbour, by removing a large rock Craig Maitland which lay in
the middle of the channel at its entrance.
Entrance to Aberdeen Harbour c.1822 , with Sail boats approaching from
right, seen from the Torry bank, with horse-drawn cart and 2 kilted
figures on a road in foreground, and others on the Pier above the water
with salmon fishing or ferry cobbles; Roundhouse and Fittie buildings on the
opposite bank, ships and boats moored in the harbour at Pocra; the Mither Kirk,
Tollbooth and Barracks on Castlehill and Headinhg Hill in the background, and
hiher hills in the distance; a pre-industrial scene.
an illustration to Ayton's 'Voyage round Great Britain', vol. VI. 1822
plan, drawn by
shows Aberdeen Harbour in
At this date, the harbour was shallow, with many sandbanks or Inches. The Dee
estuary entrance was narrow and partly blocked by a large sandbank, the 'Barr'.
was not completed until
so the rocks to the south of the harbour were also unlit and a major hazard to
shipping. This made the port very difficult to access, especially for larger
vessels. The plan shows many vessels off Aberdeen but this number probably
reflects artistic licence.
Torry Pier, from John Slezer’s view of ‘New Aberdeen from the Torry Blockhouse’, of
The Footdee Blockhouse is evident.
extension of the wharf, whereby a fine meadow of ground known as the shorelands was reclaimed,
carried on slowly
(1623-59), and before
had been constructed at
Footdee: but, all improvements notwithstanding,
continued to be difficult and perilous, owing to a bar of sand, above which at low tide
there was scarcely 2 feet depth of water.
To remedy this evil, the
1770 procured a plan from
in accordance wherewith the new
was built (1775-81)
at a cost of £18,000.
slightly northwards, it had a length of 1200 feet, a height of from 16 to 30
feet, and a breadth of from 20 to 36 feet at the base, and from 12 to 24 at the
top, its dimensions increasing seawards. Later by recommendation of
this Pier was extended (1810-16)
to a further length of almost 900 feet, at a cost of £66,000: and to protect it,
nearly 800 feet long, was finished in
at a cost of £14,000 more.
The next great undertaking was the construction
Victoria Dock, 28 acres in extent - 7½ above
Regent Bridge, - with 2053
yards of wharfage,
and tide-locks 80 feet wide, the depth of water on whose sill is 21 feet at
ordinary spring tides. This left about 18 acres of tidal harbour, and so things
stood till Dec.
when work commenced on the southward diversion of the Dee from the
Craiglug Suspension Bridge
seawards. The new channel, curving a little over a mile, and was at its bottom
170 feet wide, was completed at a cost of £51,585 in
the total sum expended on Harbour improvements up to that date since
amounting to £1,509,638.
View of the City from Balnagask above the South Pier or Bulwark of the Dee at
the mouth of the River, steam and sail ships passing into port at left, the
chimneys of the houses and factories smoking, the barracks at Castlehill in the
centre distance; Seaton's North Pier and South Breakwater, the Lower Pocra Jetty
with the Roundhouse - after William Henry Bartlett (1809-54),
illustration to William Beattie's 'Scotland'. 1838 Etching and engraving
of a more Industrialised City and the development of the Harbour..
Other works under the Act of
have been the building of a new
of concrete, 1050 feet long and 47 high, at a cost of £76,443 (1870-73): a
further extension of the N pier by 500 feet, at a cost of £44,000 (1874-77): and
the filling up of the Dee's old bed, on which, in a line with the dock-gates, it
is now (1881)
proposed to form a Graving-dock,
559 by 74 feet, as also gradually to rearrange the docks at a total cost of
£72,000, by building a new end to the
with bridge and railway across, removing
and approaches, lowering the dock-sill, providing a caisson bridge, etc.
with 2 fixed lights, 115 and 185 feet above mean tide, was built in
to the South of the harbour entrance, which, widened now to 400 yards, leads out
of Aberdeen Bay, a safe enough anchorage this with offshore winds, though not
with a NE, E, or SE wind. Valued at £13,874 in
the Harbour is managed by 19 commissioners chosen from the town council, and by
12 other elected commissioners. The aggregate tonnage registered as belonging to
the port was 310 in 1656, rising to sailing vessels of 92,217, and 53 steamships
of 25,965 tons .in 1879,
For a ship to be moored to a Buoy in the Harbour
Centre was in Quarantine normally the result of pestilence or contagion on Board.
The temporary Floating Jetties or decks with dingy's 'ashore' are a faded reason
now - perhaps for the chance painting of areas of the ships hull at shallow
draft after unloading before pontoon docks became available. Flat bottomed
painters 'sculls' with propulsion from an oar at the rear were also used.
Harbour was, for many years, an open basin, with a sand islands in
the centre called the
Inches, which separated the channel of the
River from the
Harbour, on the north side of it; and the only building was the Quay-head,
which, having become ruinous, was repaired in
1484, and rebuilt in
stone brought from Dundee. A pier was built in
1607, which, in
extended from the quay-head towards the fishing village of
Futtie, by which
means a considerable portion of land was gained from the basin, and which now
forms part of the town. In
Magistrates and Council engaged
Mr. John Smeaton, an eminent engineer, to improve the harbour; and in
1770, he proposed a
Stone Pier on the North side of the entrance, which, confining the stream of the
river within narrow limits, would remove a bank of sand that accumulated there. In
Act of Parliament was obtained, and the improvements on
plan were carried into full operation, at a cost of £18,000. This pier was
feet in length, 20 feet broad at the base, 12 on the summit, and 16 feet in
height at the western extremity, and gradually increased towards the east where
it was 36 feet broad at the base, 24 on the summit, and 30 feet high; it was
faced with blocks of granite, many of which weighed more than 3 tons each.
The Pier, however, by a deviation from Mr. Smeaton's original plan, being
erected too far towards the north,
was occasioned in the harbour at
to remedy which, a
was projected from the
of it, towards the channel of the River, with complete effect. The Harbour was
further improved by
Mr. Telford, who, in
1810, extended the original pier
feet further towards the east, where it terminated in a circular head, 60 feet
in diameter, which was destroyed by the sea in the following winter, and rebuilt
with a slope towards the sea. A
800 feet in length was also erected, on the south side, by which the harbour was
protected from the south-east storms, and the depth of water increased to 19
feet. Commodious wharfs were formed along the Harbour, on the south-west side of
the village of
Quays nearly 4000 feet in length have been constructed: the
Inches, also, are
now connected with the town by a swivel-bridge opposite the end of
Act of Parliament was obtained for converting a large part of the
Harbour into a wet dock, and operations for that purpose are in progress. The
Custom-house or Weigh-House situated on the Quay, is a neat building purchased by
and fitted up for the purpose; the establishment consists of a Collector,
Comptroller, Land and Tide surveyors, 4 landwaiters, 28
tide-waiters, 6 boatmen, and other officers.
1833 showing the proposed diversion of the River Dee to
create the Albert
Virginia St. was laid
down in the mid-18th century
on the reclaimed Shorelands, as were Commerce St., Sugarhouse Lane, Water Lane,
Pork Lane (Mearns St.), James St. and the lower end of Marischal St. 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 for the West
Looking Across the Dee to the Point Law and Harbour 1880
Now what was the name of the
guy who ran the Aberdeen (fish) Box Pool – Joe Little? Blatant advertising
afloat or lying everywhere.
Now as a wee ruffian - when I wanted to ‘gin doon
tae’ the Harbour to play with the Clydesdale Horses, Hing on tailboards of Lorries, skid doon
slippery jetty’s and wharves, dodge shunting trains and coasting driverless
wagons, bounce on sawn timber
planks, climb huge waste paper stacks, jump between barrels and run oe’r
the piles of stinking Argentinian Cattle Hides alive with anthrax on the
quaysides, let alone the greasy harbour staircases, Faroese Fishermen and
possible perverts - my mither jist said ‘mind fit yer dee’in Eddie’ Now
why was she so intent on undermining my personal confidences and fearless belief
in my abilities?
Snuffy Ivy was a legendary Aberdeen
Prostitutes - Cove Mary, Biscuit Facey, and Cinnamon Hole - the trade is rife
even today on the Harbour and approaches.
Undoubtedly a fair looker in her day, by the time she became famous in Aberdeen
she was 'Weel past her best'. So called because of her sniffing and speech
impediment by which her voice was directed through her nasal cavities rather
than directly from her mouth - perhaps a cleft palate affliction. A mannie in the Co-op in Commerce St counted the cost of the dairy products in
exactly the same fashion of speech snorting the words - Two 'n two, three 'n
three, four 'n four etc in a distorted nasal drawl.
"It's the Police"
"Weel yith'll hae tae waith yer thurn. A'm bithy jist noo"
Oh yer back
are ye Eddie – Aye Ma – fits at a’ o’er yer troosers – tak em aff and ill wash
em fer the mornin’.
I drew a great comfort in your mother's warnings to you, but of course mothers
are like that. My own mother constantly urged me to eat my eggs, eat lots of
cheese and drink lots and lots of milk. In my youth I suspected that she wanted
me to grow up to become an Arnold Schwarzenneger, but then the dreadful truth
dawned on me. Ma obviously had me insured for a lot of money and was actively
encouraging me towards a heart attack or stroke. Her master plan to remove me
from the annual census fell sadly 'agley', and I am still here. Still here but
with the terrible doubt in my mind -"if you can't even trust your own mother,
then exactly who can you trust?" Bankers, Accountants, M.P's of varying
colours, and Tony Blair all sprang to mind but were immediately rejected. In the
words of the late, great Wee Johnny Lawrie "We are all Doomed, Captain
Mainwaring - Doomed". - Don L
Upper Dock as viewed from the Regent two storey goods shed crane, horse drawn cart
crossing bridge, north abutment and boat stairs, gate operators bothy, several
steam cargo vessels within Upper Dock, Regent Bridge House, buildings of South
Market Street, Guild Street and Trinity Quay, signal mast by the bridge,
telephone box in the middle of the street opposite the bridge, steel railings,
bollards, west most crane on the roof of the Regent Quay 2 storey sheds just visible.
St Clements Bridge - York Place
Aberdeen Harbour Scenes
Labour intensive unloading of Coal in the Upper Dock