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Harbour History & Development

Improvement Phases
Measures of improvement appear, on the available evidence to have fallen into 3 principal phases. Records of the 1st of these begin with a charter of 1281 which mentions a 'Bulwark' running southwards from the foot of Shiprow, and thus places the early medieval harbour much in the position of the nucleus of the later port. Nothing further is said as to the size or character of this work, but the North-South alignment that seems to be implied for it recalls the 'Old Pier' that is marked on Taylor's plan of 1773, being shown not connected with the town's Quay but as projecting towards it from Trinity Inch opposite, with a narrow gap between its head and the Quay at a short distance West of the Weigh-house. Nothing more seems to be on record until 1399, when the 'Key of Aberdeen' is mentioned in a contract; the 'Key' is described as a 'platea communis' in 1413, in 1453 it was repaired, and in 1484 either repaired or rebuilt. In 1844, remains of an ancient quay-wall, then believed to be older than 1400, were dug up somewhere near the Weigh-house. Other late-medieval improvements were the erection of beacons at the harbour entrance, the clearance of obstructions from the channel, further repairs to the Quay in 1512 and 1526, and the installation of a crane in 1582. The work of 1526 called for the use of hewn stone, a fact which suggests that the earlier quay or bulwark may have been of rough dry-stone masonry and timbering.

A 2nd Phase, in which improvement moved at a brisker tempo, seems to have begun at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus in 1596 the burgh was authorised to apply for an imposition for the building and repairing of its bulwark, pier, shore and harbour, and this language must imply work on a considerable scale. In 1609 a serious attempt was made to deal with the sand bar by means of a bulwark, the 'South Pier', on the South shore of the entrance, so sited as to deflect the river's current northwards, directly on to the sand bar, with the idea that it should wash away the sandbank. This bulwark was of dry-stone construction with timber stakes, and took three years to build. The bar, however, continued to give trouble, as the entrance-channel, was unable to carry off floods, with the result that water tended to back up and overflow the Quays. In 1610, David Anderson removed the great boulder known as Craig Maitland from the channel by floating it off with empty buoyant barrels. 

Conditions existing in the 17th century are illustrated by a document of the time. This distinguishes between the 'portus' which it places a 1000 paces from the town, and the 'cothon', by which it evidently means the Quay discussed above, and it records a plan to extend the latter downstream so as to join it up with the former. At this time, high tides covered everything as far upstream as the quay, thereby giving small craft access to the Quay while the larger vessels discharged their cargoes 'in portu'.  Work on this scheme was begun in 1623, but was delayed by the Wars of the Covenant and was only completed in 1659.  A generally similar picture is presented by Gordon's account (1661) and its accompanying plan; Gordon places the Quay, with a Weigh-house built in 1634, at the Quay's head, somewhere just East of Shiprow, and carries it thence to Futty, which occupied an area behind what is now Waterloo Quay.  He gives the distance as 500 paces, which agrees pretty well with his plan. The extension of the Quay cut off, and permitted the reclamation for agriculture of, a large area of what had previously been tidal ground (The Shorelands). The Latin text reads 'e macerie arena congesta magno labore demum anno 1659 peractus agger', but this does not seem to justify the rather improbable statement that the work was faced on both sides with dry-stone masonry and had a core of sand. Futty is described as stretching along the shore for some 400 paces, and as being inhabited mainly by fishermen and sailors; ships lay at anchor off it, no doubt primarily those of too great a draught to reach the town's Quay. It also possessed a Dock for building and repairing ships. Beyond Futty lay the fishing boat harbour of Pocra, where, as at Futty, the plan shows ships lying at anchor.

The Weigh-house
In 1634 a building called the Weigh-House or Pack-House was erected at the lower end of the quay. Here the goods forming the cargo of a ship were weighed and measured by harbour officials called Meters. Custom Dues for the national revenue were levied here at one time, and also the town dues on food, coals, and building materials. After the abolition of the Petty Customs there was little necessity for maintaining the Weigh-House, and it was removed. Its site is now occupied by the Harbour Office (See "Aberdeen Weekly Journal," 17th May, 1905).   This building stood on the site at Regent Quay and was erected in 1634. Small dues were levied there for the weighing and packing of goods and in this old structure were stored all sorts of unclaimed merchadise which were sold off at the end of a year and a day from the date of deposit. Latterly the building became a sail loft and was demolished in 1883.


The photographic images of the Old Weigh-house.

The gable end provides advertising space for various goods including Curle Robertson's Coffee, The Spanish Life Line?  Forestairs run up to a rear entrance and men an goods attend the forecourt area. At first floor level there are short rise steps to the floor area from the balustrade and pillared balcony. A single chimney graces the tiled roof.  Some 200 years of continuous use and then urgently demolished for harbour offices.  The artists sketch is quite faithful to the original building and reveals features lost in the in the photographs


A 3rd Phase in the harbour's development may be thought of as having opened in 1770 with Smeaton's Report on really far-reaching developments. The outline here given of the ensuing course of events has been put together from the sources already quoted without individual references, to avoid such a plethora of these as would have obscured the tenor of the narrative. The state of affairs that existed when Smeaton arrived is illustrated by the plan prepared by Taylor in 1773, which differs from Gordon's plan in important respects. For example, Taylor shows the main channel of the Dee as separated from the harbour by a block of tidal 'inch', with the Harbour sited on a subsidiary channel lying North of the 'inch' and representing tidal portion of the mouth of the Denburn. From the main stream, slightly higher up, there branches another subsidiary channel which joins that of the harbour at the downstream end of the extended pier that is described and planned by Gordon, while the main stream itself runs out into the open water off Pocra and Torry.  In so doing, it passes North of the Point Law Inch but also throws off a branch which passes South of Point Law, forming Torry Pool at the village. Torry The Capstanpossesses a Pier, and from Torry, a long bulwark, presumably the South Pier of 1609, runs eastwards along the South side of the entrance-channel; one of Slezer's drawings (1693) shows this work as being of timber and masonry. A 'New Pier' has also appeared at Pocra. The factual reliability of such plans, however, should not perhaps be taken entirely for granted, as another, of 1746 by G and W Paterson, shows a somewhat different arrangement of channels and 'inches' from those of either Gordon or Taylor; though again the discrepancy may be due to the sandbanks' instability from one period to another.

New Aberdene' from the Blockhouse

Here we have Aberdene now Aberdeen from the banks of the River Dee.  We are looking west, just above a long Pier or 'Bulwark', constructed on the Torry shore in 1607 for large ships to berth. New Aberdeen is on the left with the spires of St Nicholas Church (left) and Town House (centre left). Old Aberdeen with the spires of St Machar's Cathedral visible - is on the right.  The 'Blockhouse' Slezer mentions in his title for the drawing is the round building almost in the centre in Futtie.  A blockhouse is a small isolated fort consisting of a single building.  On the water are people in boats and in a coble, or ferry, while tall ships are moored at the riverside.  Perspective is distorted in the prospect.  Figures on the jetty are smaller than they should be compared to the set of wheels we can see.

It was thought necessary to protect the harbour from the entrance of pirates and national enemies, and a fort called the Blockhouse was erected near the Sand Ness in 1542. It is shown in Gordon's chart as a circular roofless building, but usually this sort of building was square, and covered above with trunks of trees to protect the guard in it from being shot by those whom they wished to keep out of the Harbour. The site of the Blockhouse is shown by an inscription on a stone in the wall of a house in Pocra Quay. At the same time a 'boom defence' was made to cross the mouth of the river, such as we read of in the account of the siege of Londonderry. The boom at Aberdeen consisted of an iron chain fastened at the ends to bars crossing the eyes of millstones sunk in the ground. To keep the chain at the surface of the water, and prevent ships and boats from passing over it, masts of ships were attached to the chain along its whole length. It may be in the recollection of some that in the Russian War the entrance to the harbour of Sebastopol was guarded by a chain, which was lowered to let ships pass over it. On the south side of the Dee a Watch-tower was erected for a sentinel who should watch for the approach of ships and ring a bell to give notice to the inhabitants.

The Blockhouse and the Harbour Boom
James III. having been killed in 1488, Lord Forbes and some other nobles came to Aberdeen in the course of the next year for the purpose of stirring up the people to assist in rescuing the young King from the party who had led him into rebellion; and to aid their object they paraded the town, exhibiting the bloody and torn shirt of the late King on the point of a spear.  The appeal was not in vain, but the citizens seem to have limited the expression of their loyalty to certain resolutions which they passed on the occasion. In 1497, a Blockhouse was built at the entrance of the Harbour as a protection against the English, and in 1514, besides the gunners stationed there, 2 men were placed at the bell-house on the south side of the River, with orders to raise a fire as soon as the English Fleet appeared in sight, while another 2 on the Castle Hill had orders to ring a bell whenever they should see the fire. The expected attack, however, was not made. James IV. paid several visits to Aberdeen, one of which, though very brief, was remarkable. It was on the 30th August 1507, when the King rode in one day from Stirling through Perth and Aberdeen to Elgin, on his way to the shrine of St Duthac in Ross-shire.

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

The South 'Bulwark'
The greatest evil the harbour was liable to was the closing of the mouth of the river by sand driven into it at high water in north-easterly gales. To help the river to keep its mouth open a rampart of stones called the 'Bulwark' was built, 1607-1610, at the mouth of the River on the South side. It served to keep the current off the shallow margin and force it into a place where it could excavate a deep passage. It was constructed of stones without cement and of large stakes of timber, and the work was mostly done by the inhabitants, perhaps inspired by the music of the bagpipes and the drum. Labours would probably have been beguiled by a tune on the bagpipes, a sort of creature-comfort which was liberally supplied by the town piper to the workmen employed on the Old South Pier.

There is still a Bulwark at the place indicated, but it is probably not the original erection. It has now a small jetty at the west end for the purpose of keeping the current of the River well to the North. The Navigation Channel is now so deep that the Bulwark seems as if it had been a useless piece of work, but it doubtless served the purpose intended, when it was built.

The Navigation of James V
There is a brief notice of Aberdeen Harbour in a small book, titled "The Navigation of James V." In 1540 this King made an expedition with 5 ships to the Orkneys and Western Isles to receive homage and submission from the Chief men, and to secure payment in future of the Crown revenues payable by the land-holders.  His little fleet was under the care of Alexander Lindsay as Pilot; and Lindsay seems before setting out to have collected all the information then known regarding the ports, capes, rivers, tides, currents, rocks, and shoals on the coast. This booklet is usually supposed to be an account of what was seen on the voyage, and it is sometimes said that King James visited all the places mentioned; but it bears internal evidence that it was prepared before setting out and not after return. Aberdeen is said in the Navigation to be 33 miles from the Red Head, 11 from Ythan mouth, where there was a Harbour, and 40 from Buchaness (then at Peterhead). We are told that it is high water when the Moon is south by west. The Girdle Rock is mentioned as a danger to be avoided. It is safe to say that it was not seen by James's company, for many visits to Girdleness at the most likely times have not given a sight of it, but its position is well known to the fishermen of the town.  The following directions for entering the harbour are given:-
"If you would enter the harbour, take 3 quarters of the tide with you, because there is a dangerous bank of sand in the mouth of the river."

Ships of great draught of water could not go up to the Quay, and had to lie at anchor in the bight on the south side, now Torry Harbour; but from what John Spalding relates we see that they were exposed to great danger when the River Dee was in flood. He gives the following graphic account of a catastrophe which befell some transport ships lying in the river in 1637:-
"Thair wes four schippes lying at anchor within the harberie of Abirdein in one of which Maior Ker had a number of soldiouris, hot throw ane great speat of the water of Die, occasioned be extraordinar rayne, thir haill four schippes brak louss, for nather tow nor anker culd hald them, and wes drivin out at the water mouth vpone the night throw the violens and speat of the water, and by ane south-est wynd wes driven to the north schoir, quhair thir schippes wes miserably bladit with lekis by striking on the Sandis. The soldiouris sleiping cairleslie in the bottom of the schip vpone hether wes all in swoum throw the water that cam in al the hollis and lekis of the schip to their gryte amasement, feir, and dreddour. Alwais thay gat up ilk man with horrible crying and schouting; sum escaipit, other sum pitifullie perishit and drount."

In the morning it was found that 92 had been drowned or had taken the opportunity to desert.   In the end of the same year, says Spalding:-
" Throw gryte innundations, ane bar or grite bed of sand was wroclit wp and cassin athuart the water mouth of Die, mixt with marble (marl), clay, and stanes. This feirfuU bar so maid wp and mixt wes cassin and ran fra the north schuir to the soutli schoir, and stoppit the mouth of the barberies, that no schip would go out or cum in thairat ; and at a low water ane man micht have past vpon this sandy bed, from the north schoir to the bulvark dry foot. It amasit, effrayit, and feired the haill people of Abirdene, brughe and land. Thay fell too with fasting, praying, preiching, mvrning and weiping, day and nicht. Then thay went out with spaidis, schoollis, mattocks, mellis, in gryte numberis, man and woman, young and old, at ane low water to cast doun this dreidfull bar, bot all for nocht, for alss fast as thay cast doun at ane low water, it gatherit ugane alss fast at ane full sea. Then the people gave it over and became hartles, thinking our sea tred and salniound fishing wes liklie to be gone, and noble Abirdene brocht to vtter decay and destruction."

However, the River Dee in a few days swept away the bar and resumed its old course, to the great joy of the Burgh. But Spalding joined some fear with his gladness, interpreting the formation of the bar as a token of great impending troubles for both the Aberdeens.

Thomas Tucker's Report on the Harbour
In 1656 Thomas Tucker, a Customs Official in the service of Cromwell's Government, made a report upon the custom of the port. Tucker says of Aberdeen-
"It is no despisable Burgh either for building or largeness, having a very stately market-place, sundry houses well-built, with a safe harbour for vessels to ride in.  But the wideness of the place from the inlet of the sea coming in with a narrow winding gut and beating in store of sand with its waves, hath rendered it somewhat shallow in a great part of it and so less useful of late than formerly. But the inhabitants are remedying this inconveniency by lengthening their quay and bringing it up to a neck of land, which jutting out eastward towards an headland lying before it, makes the coming in so strait (difficult).  At the end of which foremost neck of land there is a little village called Footie, and on the other headland another called Torye, and both nigh the Harbour's mouth; and lying very near unto the place where the ships usually ride (being forced to keep some distance from the Quay because of the shallowness of the water) have given opportunity of much fraud in landing goods privately, but prevented of late by appointing the waiters by turns to watching these two places narrowly when there are any shipping in harbour."
" The trade of this place as generally all over Scotland is inward from Norway, Eastland (Baltic), Holland, and France; and outwards, with salmon and plaiding, commodities caught and made hereabout in greater plenty than any other place of the nation whatsoever.  In this port is a Collector, a Cheque, and three [Tide] Waiters, some of which are still (always) sent into the member ports as often which is but seldom as any opportunity is offered or occasion requires.  These are in number five : — Stonehive, Newburgh, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, and Banff."

At this time only 9 vessels belonged to Aberdeen; one of 80 tons, one of 70, three of 50, two of 30, and one of 20 — total, 310 tons. Fraserburgh had 4 vessels of 20 tons each, Peterhead 1 of 20 ; but no vessels are mentioned as belonging to Stonehaven, Newburgh, or Banff.  This report shows the attention which Cromwell paid to the Commerce of the country, and the strict collection of the national Revenue from Customs.

The embankment running along the south side of the reclaimed area which Tucker mentions as being in progress in 1656 was completed in 1659; but in 1648 the Denburn had been diverted at the Weigh-House from its old course and turned into a new channel for the harbour. It may have been of some service in sweeping out the mud which would have tended to settle in it with the influx of the tide.

Before 1661 a dock for building and repairing ships had been constructed at Futtie. Modern dry docks with walls of masonry and water-tight gates are expensive and difficult to construct; but the requirements for the small ships of early times were satisfied by an excavation of considerable extent with an entrance just wide enough to admit or let out a ship. The entrance had been filled up with a bank of clay after a ship had been floated in at high tide and the dock had become empty at low water. The dock is shown in the Paterson map in 1746 in much the same place as the modern shipbuilding yards occupy, but it bears little resemblance to a modern graving dock. The etymology of "graving" in this sense has puzzled etymologists hitherto. If we allow ourselves to suppose that this mode of dock-making was introduced into Britain from Germany the word might come from "graben," to excavate; and a graving dock would mean a dock excavated in the side of a harbour, closed when necessary by a bank of clay.

Parson Gordon on the Harbour
In 1661 James Gordon, parson of Rothiemay, published his " Description of Bothe Touns," with a plan of the towns and the district between the Dee and the Don bordering on the sea. It is to him that we owe the description of the mode of forming the extension of the Quay from the Weigh-House to near the Church of Futtie, by which a large extent of ground which was overflowed at every tide was dried by the exclusion of the sea. The reclaimed area is now occupied by streets and buildings; but in 1661 Gordon says it was a fertile cornfield, the produce of which had reimbursed the Town Council. In this reclaimed area the ground is so low that the sewers are below the level of the sea at high water, and the sewage can be discharged only at low water or by being pumped to a higher level, which is done at Clarence Street when necessary. The reclaimed area embraces the Great North of Scotland Railway Company's Goods Station, Commerce Street, Sugarhouse Lane, Water Lane, Mearns Street, James Street, the south half of Marischal Street, and part of the block between it and Weigh-House Square.
James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

The Dee and the Denburn and the Harbour
It is Gordon who tells of the shipbuilding dock. He says that at the end of the new Quay or pier stood the village of Futtie, which extended 400 paces (1000 feet) along the edge of the estuary, and that it was inhabited chiefly by fishermen and mariners.  Before it, he says, lay the ships of too deep a draught to go up to the city, and there was a dock for building and repairing ships. Beyond Futtie lay the Pocraw, the fishing boat haven, and after that came the Blockhouse, and lastly the Sand Ness.  The entrance into the Harbour, Gordon says, was somewhat dangerous by reason of a sand bed commonly called the bar which crossed the mouth of the Harbour, so that no one dared to enter but expert pilots who knew the way and could enter safely with the help of the wind and the tide.  Once into the harbour, many and great ships, men-of-war, and merchant ships of the greatest size and burden, lay at Torry in the very channel of the River Dee. Smaller ships could go up to Futtie or by help of the tide they could go up to the City and lie close to the Pier, where they could unload their goods and take in their freight. The River mouth was narrow enough naturally, but still more contracted by the Bulwark made of dry stone and great timbers. The Harbour at high water looked like a great firth, but at low water it was dry all over except the channels of the Dee and the Denburn. At high water there were some small 'inches' of small worth standing out of the water, upon which were some houses for the salmon fishers, where they prepared and packed salmon for export. They were sent chiefly to France, where Aberdeen salmon were accounted the best in Scotland. They were taken in great abundance, especially at low water.

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661
Gordon's plan of Aberdeen includes the estuary of the river, and to him we are indebted for our 1st sight of the course of the River Dee, the Harbour, and the River mouth. In making his survey he used no instruments, but measured distances by walking over the ground and counting the number of steps which he had made. These he reckoned equal to 2 feet, and on the plan we see a scale of these paces and a boy in a kilt, with a compass in his hand, measuring a distance on the scale. Of course, the plan cannot be quite accurate ; but where it can be tested by measuring the distance between 2 well-known fixed points and comparing it with that found on the Ordnance Survey Map, it is found to be wonderfully accurate, for short distances at least.

The North bank of the river is shown as 450 yards south from the Shiprow Port. In the River we see men catching salmon by a coble and a net. In Torry Harbour are seen ships at anchor a little way from the shore. The only erection seen on the south side of the river is the Bulwark, erected 1607-10, opposite the Sand Ness, to force the River northward at its mouth. On the north side of the estuary the map shows the Denburn flowing southward through marshy ground, over-flowed at every high tide. This area is now occupied by the Joint Station and its surroundings; but the marshy ground extended as far south as to Palmerston Road, and there the Denburn entered the extreme upper end of the Harbour. The Upper Harbour was a belt about 60 yards broad, extending along Guild Street. At Stirling Street it received the Mill burn after it had driven the Nether Mill.  A recess is shown occupying the site of the 1st house in Guild Street, and the bottom of Market Street.  In excavating the site of the house, in 1907, the keel and other timbers of a small ship were found. This recess was probably the 1st Harbour of Aberdeen, before the Quay was built.  The waterway extended along Trinity Quay and Regent Quay. North of Regent Quay is the reclaimed ground laid out in run rigs to show that it had become corn land. The waterway was further east than Waterloo Quay, going nearly to St Clement's School. Three ships are shown - 1 on the way down from the quay, 1 on the way up, and 1 at anchor at Futtie.  Opposite the course of the Dee we see at Pocraw or the fishers' haven (a bight eroded by the impact of the River) a few boats lying moored. The navigation channel is titled The Raick, which means the straight place or fairway (Probably a corruption of richt - right). This was 1 of the town's fishing stations. Salmon had been caught here by coble and net at low water. Farther out in the Navigation Channel are shown the Stells, where nets were stretched between stakes on land and boats in the River:  When the tide began to rise the fishers endeavoured to surround salmon in the bag of the nets and haul them to the River side. The part of the estuary between the harbour (the Denburn) and the Dee is represented as mostly occupied by muddy flats covered by water, except at low tide; but there are 3 grassy islands or inches usually dry, except at high tide. (One part which was seldom if ever covered was called "The Witch."

Tide Mills
In 1621 two corn mills were erected somewhere within floodmark, to be driven by the influx and efflux of the tide; but they proved failures. It was also proposed to erect others near the mouth of the river on the south side. There would have been a more powerful current there; but the power would have been intermittent and variable in direction, and they seem to have done no good, if they were erected.

Reclamation of Land
In 1623 was begun a great undertaking for the improvement of the Harbour, by which a large area, 300 feet broad at its widest and 1000 feet long, was reclaimed from the sea and a great extension of the quay was effected. The Denburn before that time flowed in the line of Virginia Street, and the ground on the south side of the burn was useless for any purpose, being dry at low tide, and covered with water at high tide. It was reclaimed by extending from the lower end of the quay at Weigh-House Square 2 dry stone walls and filling up the space between them with sand and mud. This material must have been got by digging a new channel to the quay along the south side of the embankment. The work was done by the labour of the inhabitants themselves, and it was not completed till 1659. When the embankment had been extended to its full length the Denburn was diverted into the new harbour, but in Gordon's time its channel had not been filled up, for he calls it, "A water course running from the Pack-House  towards Futty." It ended in the Powcreek Burn.

James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen 1661

Directions for Taking the Harbour
Skene gives minute directions for the benefit of Seamen or strangers coming to Aberdeen by Sea, which were prepared by desire of the Magistrates. The 1st object to attract their attention would be the Bay of Nigg, with a country Church standing in the middle thereof (the old St. Fittick's Church of Nigg). Northward of it was the Girdleness or Aberdeen Ness, which had to be kept at the distance of a long cable's length, or full 600 feet (on account of the Girdle Rock). Passing this danger, 2 steeple spires (Town House and St Nicholas Church) would be seen, which had to be brought into a line, with the West spire a sail's breadth North of the other, and then the way was straight in.  Once in, ships could ride at anchor sheltered from North, West, and South winds; but in entering care had to be taken because there was a bar on which there was barely 2 feet of water at low tide.  At spring tides the depth on the bar was about 15 feet at high water, but only 10 at neap tides. On the left hand of a ship entering there was a Beacon (about the shore end of the South Breakwater), about a ship's breadth from which there was usually the deepest channel.  Skene recommended strangers to signal for a pilot, who could always be had by putting out a vaiffe (flag).  Off Aberdeen the flowing tide ran from North and by East to South and by West; farther off it was more Southerly. A ship entering the Harbour from the North could keep inshore till a depth of 5 fathoms was reached, or with a westerly wind 3 fathoms. Inside the harbour is mentioned the large and high house called the Pack-House (also the Weigh-House), with many rooms for merchants' wares. A pleasant walk from the City could be taken along the Pier, which led to fields (about Waterloo Station) and further on to the Harbour Mouth.

The Harbour in 1746
STP - Old & New Aberdeen - 1746
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.

In 1746 a plan of Aberdeen was published by G. and W. Paterson, which shows some new features. The infall of the Denburn is farther north than in Gordon's. It shows the ship dock about the place now occupied by the building yards, which have been developed from it; and it shows also the beacon on the south side of the entrance to the harbour. The bulwark is longer; and its eastern extremity curves round to the north to increase the scouring force of the river. The depth of water at high tide is shown in several parts of the harbour.  On the bar the depth is marked 13 feet towards the north side and 14 towards the south, which agrees with Skene's statement.  Farther in 20 feet is shown at the Sand Ness, then 18, and at Pocra 14. Strangely, 28 feet at low water is shown between the Lower Jetty and Point Law, which must have been produced by a whirling eddy at the meeting of the current at the Denburn coming from the harbour and the current of the Dee. At the Quay Head the depth was 12 feet, but at Shore Brae, well into the channel, there was a depth of 30 feet. This must have been The Pottie where female criminals were drowned. The great depth of The Pottie was caused by a projection from the south side. The course of the River is much the same as in Gordon's Map, straight North and then East, but water is shown as far West as part of the site of the Electric Works (South College Street), and there is more water between the Harbour and the Dee than Gordon shows.

Milnes Plan in 1789

Rock removing Navigation Channel in the 1920.s  Model shows steam rock breaking barge Viking in the Abercrombie Jetty Area

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Last modified: 01/09/2013