The Links & Stinks
‘Vpon the east syd of the cittie and of Futtie
ther lyes many fair fields, fruitfull of corns, quheat, bear, oats, pease, and
pot herbs and roots. Thes are marched by the fields near the sea syde called the
Broad Hill which is comprehended within
the limits of the Parish, the surface of the whole of the east and north parts
is nearly level, and but very slightly elevated above the sea; but in the south
and west parts, the ground is more broken, rising into several eminences of
small height, one of which, the
Heading Hill, may be said to lie beyond the
limits of the town on the east side, (although a few houses are built on it, and
on the adjacent grounds to the north,) while the others, known by the names of
St Katherine's Hill, the
Port Hill, and the
School Hill or
Woolman Hill, are occupied by the streets and buildings of Aberdeen.
With the exception of that part of the
there was a
in Aberdeen resulting in over
A number of the graves of victims were found on the
about 200 years later, during sewer laying.
1546, and again in
1647, the Plague raged with
considerable violence in Aberdeen, and for the safety of the other inhabitants,
the sick were lodged in
huts erected in the links. Great
efforts were made to ward off infection during the
Plague, but the disease gained an
entrance. As soon as persons were seen to be smitten they were removed to
huts in the Links, where those who did not
recover were buried there. An entry in the Burgh Records tells a sad tale. For
casting 37,000 feal to cover the graves of those that died in the infection and
among the sands. In
making a sewer along the links some years ago the
burial-place was crossed east of the
Rope Works (near Fittie), and many bones were met with. More recently many
skeletons were found in the foundation of a house
in Carmelite Street. Bodies of persons who died of the plague had been interred in trenches
in the open grassy place called the Green. No doubt the want of drainage
and the abominable condition of the
Loch, polluted with 'excrementitious
matters', contributed to the
virulence of the plague when it broke out; but yet it seems
never to have originated spontaneously, but only by contagion. In 1682 another
attempt was made to get pure water, but the proposal was received unfavourably,
owing to the losses sustained by the citizens in the war time and to the
the railway that had strange carbuncles rising from the bubbling tar covering of
the pavements on this all riveted webbed steel Bridge that led from
leading to the
Sooty Steam Trains
would shunt and hoot and cover you with spent steam and
particles of burnt coal and show a fiery glow from their fireboxes that
silhouetted drivers and stokers.
- This was the Blasted Heath
that wafted the weak Ozone through the muckle stench of Commerce. Note the
near the railway that crossed the Fittie-bound
reach into the ever stinking gas works.
That isolated granite tenement house on the
far side of the boulevard – is still intact – all the
Victorian Bathing Machines
from the beach were berthed in the yard behind and we use to play in them,
stealing the 'roon' (Circular) vanity mirrors to signal to each other and blind
all the passers by with the power of the sun. Many of my school pals came from
- a Fire Tender Reservoir where one
could float a makeshift raft was just 'up toon' from it and on the opposite side
in the grassy area behind the
Cotton Street Backies. The ribbon of vegetation was the
on both sides of the main Beach road. The Schools used the links in front of the
gas Works as football pitches for
lads. Place yon
supermarket that blitzed the old 'hooses' in the close that ran from the the
to links that we walked so often as apprentices.
Ward with many
a lucky Navigator or Mariner buried there instead of at sea.
once lay adjacent to the Kirk. Can you mind the
Gourock Rope Works
where my uncle David worked. Doo Dum Days indeed.
St Clements School became a
when the area was depopulated.
My mither got pregnant at 16 while courting dad while
in Clarence Street – and a set
of false teeth the same year to make her the envy of all because of her more
accommodating embouchure – only a joke ma - but aye the new teeth were true and
straight unlike yer bairn's.
This was the Blasted Heath that wafted the weak Ozone
through the muckle stench of Chemical Industries.
1857 Miller and Sons had started their work at Aberdeen where
crude oil was produced from Boghead Coal (compact bituminous coal that
burns brightly and yields large quantities of tar and oil upon distillation).
This work did a flourishing business in both crude and refined oils until the
year 1864, in which year the work was closed, owing partly to the high
price of Boghead Coal, but perhaps more particularly to the fact that
Young had discovered that Miller and Sons were infringing his patents."
The works referred to by Redwood were presumably the Sandilands Chemical
Works of John Miller and Sons, that opened in 1848 and were
stated (in 1902) to produced Naphtha, Benzole, Creosote Oil, Pitch,
Asphalt, Sulphate of Ammonia, Sulphuric Acid, and Artificial Manures, and also
refines Paraffin Wax and Ozokerite. The site remained in use as a chemical works
until the late 20th century.
Chemical Works. Storage tanks for Tar / Ammonia distillate pumped from the
Gas Works. John Miller and Co. started business in 1848 having the
expertise to convert this distillate into various oils and other products. Gas
Works had started in 1844. The tank sections are made of cast iron and
were bolted together to form storage tanks. These could be dismantled and
re-sited as required.
The new phosphate
store (capacity 20,000 tons) at Sandilands Chemical Works, built next to the
Garvock Wynd boundary wall. The phosphate rock came into Aberdeen from the
Pacific Islands and Russia by ship to be unloaded at
International Quay and then transferred to Sandilands (formerly Sandy
Lands) by lorry. The lorries then tipped their loads into an underground hopper
and conveyor system through a grid opening at ground level. The phosphate was
then lifted by an elevator to an overhead conveyor from which it was tipped into
the store. The material was then trimmed using a bulldozer. One operator was was
responsible for the operation of unloading the phosphate including the trimming
operation. The phosphate was removed from the store by means of a mechanical
shovel and used in the production of phosphoric acid.
1908, when the
was staged on
the Links, a special 40-second car service was successfully operated. - despite
emanating from Gas and Chemical Works so close at hand to the Arena.
Webb's Prize Medal Cereal Stand who sell Farm, Clover, and Forage Seeds
not seem to be gagging. Note the sulphuric acid Towers in the back ground.
Shirras Laing & Co. Ltd are present
Amateur footage exists of stone-clearing on a beach and shots of an Agricultural
Show at Aberdeen in
under-exposed shots of men on beach loading stones
on to horse-drawn wagons on rails - shots of bathers crossing the
rails - shots of men clearing boulders from the beach - shot of boys making
sandcastle on beach - brief shot of public building - shots of blacksmiths at
work, possibly at the Agricultural Show – general views of the show, horses
being led around showground, stalls in background including Nitram Ltd –
general views of crowd watching - brief shots of cart spraying water - shot of
rotary harvester on display and onlookers
Aerial view of Agriculture Show and Links
Approaches and the Upper and Lower Promenades
This shows a very busy beach scene with Bathing Huts and the Old Bath Complex
and its approach from Constitution Street with its Tram Depot and Trams
servicing the area.
Works survives on the corner and
leads up to the centre of the City. The stenching
Stinky Millers Chemical Factories
are to the left of
to its left and
with the old tenements of
to the left of
to the right. The flat area top left is the cleared east Gallowgate near
to the right of
Location of the vast temporary
Lord Strathcona's Hall
West North Street
The earliest reference to golf in Aberdeen is in
Society of Golfers
was founded in
a Mr. Bloxsom completed 12 rounds on the Links in a single day.
or "People's Park," which the line now crosses, is over 400 acres in
extent, and is one of the greatest boons which Aberdeen possesses. It is
the recreation ground of the citizens par excellence, and affords in the ample
space from Dee to Don sufficient room for all kinds of games. Cricket and
Football are provided for, and there is a Public Golf Course of 18 holes
stretching northwards from the Broad Hill. Another attraction to the
Links is the handsome Bathing Station, erected by the Town Council
in 1895 and largely added to in 1898. Facilities are given in the
establishment for indulging in all classes of baths, while there was a large
swimming pond, measuring 90 feet by 35 feet. On the beach in front is a safe
bathing ground and a supply of Bathing Coaches for the convenience of bathers.
During the summer, attractions of a varied character are provided in the form of
Pierrot entertainments, bands, and other forms of amusement.
from the Bathing Station Promenade or Esplanade has been formed for a
distance of nearly a mile, and it is intended ultimately to extend it to the
Don, and when this is done the City will possess a marine drive which
should prove an addition to the present attractions of the beach. Looking
Citywards from the Bathing Station, there will be observed, almost facing the
Links, at the foot of the Broad Hill, the City Fever Hospital while
southwards from the Banner Mill, which occupies the middle foreground,
will be seen the Gas Works, also the property of the Corporation. It was
within the grounds occupied by the Gas Works that James Gibbs or Gibb,
the famous Architect, was born in 1694, at the house known then and long
after as the " White House at Futtiesmyre." South of the
Station is the Battery, and the walk ought to be continued through the
village of Footdee, or the Fishers Squares, to the North Pier.
The keeping of the entrance to the harbour has always been a source of trouble
and great expense, from the fact that a sand "bar" tends to form at the entrance.
This is attributable partly to the River flowing into the Tidal waterway, but
chiefly to the sandy nature of the bay and coast northwards. In 1770
Smeaton designed a breakwater for the north side of the entrance, which was
completed at considerable cost, while a further extension was commenced in
1810 from designs by Telford. On 5th September, 1874, the then
Duke of Edinburgh laid the foundation stone of an extensive addition made at
that time with a view of securing a greater depth of water at the entrance. The
North Pier forms a delightful promenade, and from the raised platform at
the east end an extensive view of the greater part of the Aberdeenshire coast
can be obtained. (Alas now Closed to the Public) The south side of the entrance channel is protected by a
breakwater erected in 1875.
Fish Meal for Fodder
Mair stink from fish meal at
condemed fish - offal stuff in coopered barrels.
The string roon yer knees was to stop the rats seeking refuge up
yer trooser leg and the risk of Weil’s disease from a rodent bite in the
bollacks. Breeches were slacker then in the interests of future progeny.
Och aye - I ken ‘im fine – he used tae work in the Fesh.
One could always
tell which way the wind was Blowing from the depth of the Aroma that was to
sharpen my olfactory senses for life. My nose never lies to me.
Wordies Horses –
now there's a tail.
Chemical Works, c.1900.
Sulphuric Acid absorption towers. These towers were
filled with inert material (eg granite chips) over which weak sulphuric acid was
sprayed from a series of lead pipes at the top of the Tower to absorb the SO2
gases which were fed in at the bottom. As a result the liquid collected at
the bottom of the Tower was a strong sulphuric acid. This acid was then
combined with phosphate rock to produce superphosphate fertilisers
produced at Sandilands Chemical Works. (Scottish Agricultural Industries
Walking in the vicinity of these works which were then surrounded by
high density slum tenements was to breath the most sulphurous atmosphere accompanied by yellow
smoke and putrid rotten eggs stenches. Even the constant winds off the North Sea
could not dissipate such concentrations of residual chemicals and unwelcome
smells in what was a habitat, major recreation area and also deemed a Public Park.
Here is a picture of
Chemical Work's Tradesmen proudly holding or displaying the tools of their
Trades. These artisans are wielding hammers, anvil, plumbing wrenches,
taps and dies, level, boring brace, saw & chisel, coopers tools, and a barrel
pump. A geared drive shaft stands on trestles
a belt pulley below.
Chemical Works, begun in 1848, cover 5 acres, and employ over 100 men
and boys, at £90 to £100 weekly wages. Here were prepared naphtha, benzole,
creosote oil, pitch, asphalt, sulphate of ammonia, sulphuric acid, and
artificial manures. Paraffin wax and ozokerite are refined.
An Artesian Well
within the works, 421 feet deep, gives a constant supply of good water, always
at 51º Fahr.
The capacious links bordering the sea between the mouths of the two rivers are
largely resorted to for open-air recreation; there was here a rifle range where a
"wapinschaw," or shooting tournament, is held annually
of the foundations of recent structures can be seen in the low-lying flat links
land - now a cricket pitch - beneath the
Broad Hill. The
heavily militarised during the 2nd World War, reflecting one
of its historic uses as a convenient open and flat place to hold
"weapon-showings" - mustering of men under arms to satisfy clan or
feudal lords that a suitably large, fit, well-equipped and bellicose corps of
men could be gathered to execute their war-like bidding.
The marks we see are the outlines of
and Emplacements, and the more conducive sporting and leisure uses of these
Links areas, which have included
horse-racing, livestock shows, football, golf, galas and markets.
Some of the markings seen in the photo from the Bbroad Hill are of a hockey pitch
the circle and the 25 are clearly discernible. Some of the other lines are
cricket boundary lines
from different seasons.
Gordon's 3rd Battalion at Kings Links with the Broad Hill in the background