The Doric Columns

Loch Street

The Loch to the north of Aberdeen was fed by Burns flowing in from the north and west and was the Burgh’s main source of fresh water; it also supplied 3 of the Burgh’s many Meal Mills, such as that at Flourmill Brae. Evidently more water was being abstracted from the Loch than drained into it, because Parson Gordon depicts it as ‘the Marsh formerly known as the Loch’.  By 1800, the Loch had shrunk to about the area now covered by Loch Street, and by 1838 it had disappeared completely. The area now known as the Lochlands became George St., Charlotte St., St. Andrew St. and John St.

Loch Street with St Pauls Street Church and School, which became the Aberdeen Education Authority's Music Centre, the Co-op headquarters and Arcade.

Loch Street. from 15 Harriot Street to Spring Garden
Innes street, from 153 Gallowgate to 61 Loch Street
Spring Garden, from George Street to Windy Wynd
Kingsland Place, Hutcheon Street
Ann Street, from Maberley Street to Hutcheon Street

Examination of natural levels adjacent to modern Loch Street indicated that the eastern edge of the medieval loch did not impinge upon the area of the site.  The Patterson map of 1746 shows the Gallows Port which was level with Innes Street and the Head of the Loch near the Gilcomston Dam.  The Froghall / Spital Burn and the Westburn which fed the old Loch of Aberden, now dry and covered with streets and houses. The North end extended along Fraser Road to Millbank Lane and thence to the lowest parts of Holland Street, where its chief feeder, the Westburn, entered; but the main portion of the Loch was south of Hutcheon Street. It was bounded by the high ground at Kingsland Place, Maberly Street, Spring Garden, Loch Street, Crooked Lane, St Andrew Street, Blackfriars Street, the Railway and the high ground east of Ann Street. The outlet was at Gilcomston Steps. It was a shallow basin excavated by a glacier from Westburn valley, augmented by a smaller from Berryden, and it had been deepest where it was narrowest, at the north end. In making a sewer in Hutcheon Street peat-moss containing stems of hazel was found near the gate of Broadford Works, showing that it had been deep there.


Litsters (or dyers) such as Adam of Spens (1447) and John Litster, who in 1498 was living in the Green next door to the Carmelite Friary, had a serious impact on the Town's water supply.  Statutes dating from the 15th century onwards show that both the Loch and the common rivulets in the town were heavily polluted by the various craftsmen washing their own produce.  A Statute of 1507 mentions that the gutters which ran to and from their workhouses ought to be closed as they were having a serious impact on the Town's water supply.  It was also stipulated that the litsters should only wash their cloths in the burn that passed from the west end of the Loch to the Denburn. It is possible too that the Aberdeen crafts produced similar problems to those in London where there were complaints of foundations being rotted by the large amount of waste water produced through the repeated washing of cloth.  On 9 October 1496, red cloth was singled out for polluting the water supply. Interestingly, 2 types of red dye have been identified in cloth remains from medieval Aberdeen; 1 is from the plant madder, which can produce a brick red; and the other from the insect kermes. Both dyes, if used in Aberdeen, would have been imported with the kermes coming from the Mediterranean where it lives on the branches of a species of oak tree.

In 1496 the Bakers among other crafts were said to be causing pollution in the Loch and the Town's water supply.  At Upperkirkgate, archaeologists have discovered a simple Baker's kiln, suggestive of domestic bread manufacture. Larger scale production is attested to by the number of ordinances concerning the pricing and selling of cakes and bread and by the naming of a number of Bakers in the Council Registers. Willelmus Boyl, baxter 1398, Fynlaus, baxter 1399, Thomas Gladi 1457 and Alexander Stevin 1591 are some of the bakers registered.

Whatever the scale of production, Bakers' ovens would have been a fire risk, particularly when they were in the heart of domestic settlements and were built, like the excavated example, of wood and clay. In Peebles in 1658, John Turnbull was ordered to be observant of his oven and to raise the chimney when the weather was seasonable.

In 1512, the Council decreed that Waulkers (or Fullers) whose job it was to cleanse and thicken the cloth should not hang it to dry over the walls of St Nicholas Church or within the kirkyard. Fullers, like dyers and tanners, seem to have worked near the Loch, using the water and polluting it in the process. Amongst them, perhaps, John Broune in 1455 and Robert Swyntone in 1492. There is no direct archaeological evidence of the locations where Fullers operated, but many of the pieces of fulled medieval cloth found on excavations in Aberdeen must have been through their hands.

His coat an’ breeks war’ o’ a lichtly blue Weel waukit, an’ the pick o’ hame-grown woo

WALK-MILL, Waulk-mill.
A fulling mill.

Fulling or tucking or walking ("waulking" in Scotland) is a step in woollen cloth making which involves the cleansing of cloth (particularly wool) to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker, or walker. The Welsh word for a fulling mill is pandy. This is used in several place-names.  Fulling involves two processes - scouring and milling (thickening). These are followed by stretching the cloth on great frames known as tenters and held onto those frames by tenterhooks. It is from this process that we derive the phrase being on tenterhooks as meaning to be held in suspense. The area where the tenters were erected was known as a tenterground.

Originally, this was literally pounding the cloth with the Fuller's feet (whence the description of them as 'walkers'), or hands, or a club. From the medieval period, however, it often was carried out in a Water Mill. Fulling Mills - from the medieval period, the fulling of cloth often was undertaken in a water mill, known as a fulling mill, a walk mill, or a tuck mill. In Wales, a fulling mill is called a pandy. In these, the cloth was beaten with wooden hammers, known as fulling stocks.  Fulling Stocks were of 2 kinds, falling stocks (operating vertically) that were used only for scouring, and driving or hanging stocks. In both cases the machinery was operated by cams on the shaft of a waterwheel or on a tappet wheel, which lifted the hammer.  Driving stocks were pivoted so that the 'foot' (the head of the hammer) struck the cloth almost horizontally. The stock had a tub holding the liquor and cloth. This was somewhat rounded on the side away from the hammer, so that the cloth gradually turned, ensuring that all parts of it were milled evenly. However, the cloth was taken out about every 2 hours to undo plaits and wrinkles. The 'foot' was approximately triangular in shape, with notches to assist the turning of the cloth.

His coat an’ breeks war’ o’ a lichtly blue Weel waukit, an’ the pick o’ hame-grown woo

 A waulk mill or 'wak mil' .  (Wauk milling - also written waulk, walk, wack or wak - is the process of soaking, beating and shrinking cloth to make it thick and felted.  It gives rise to the family name Walker.) Waulker, a fuller of cloth

The basic understanding of mediaeval wauk mills in that: there is a lade (a pool, trough or some other kind of reservoir) with a built entrance; there is normally a small building on the lade and a perimeter retaining wall; there are possible points at which a water wheel could be sited and water flow managed; and which could serve as a pool for soaking cloth. The process was performed by hand in the Hebrides until fairly recently to the accompaniment of rhythmic Gaelic songs to coordinate the movements of the waulking team. 

waulking-board, a long grooved board on which cloth is waulked. 
waulking-frame, a frame, orig. of wicker-work, on which cloth was laid to be waulked. 
waulkin-mill, a fulling mill, a mill in which cloth is shrunk.
waulking-song, any (Gaelic) song sung by a team of women engaged in waulking, gen. one of which the rhythm suits the motions involved, different songs being used for different stages in the process.

Aberdeen Public Soup Kitchen was first established as a charity in 1800 in St Mary's Chapel in St Nicholas Church. It supplied a breakfast of coffee and bread and a lunch of bread, soup and a piece of beef or mutton to the needy of the city.  In a period of nearly 240 days it supplied over 140,000 servings of soup and bread. The Soup Kitchen moved to 41 Loch Street in 1838 and this new building was opened by Lord Provost Stewart in December 1894. The ground floor dining room had accommodation for at least 50 people and the tables were marble topped. In 1926, a total of nearly 27,000 meals were provided with funding still coming from charitable donations since few could afford even the 2d for the lunch. The building survived major developments in the surrounding area but in recent years its charitable purpose was no longer thought necessary, and it was converted into a cafe in the mid 1990's and is now a gift shop.

The Swan Bar, Loch Street Post Office with the and Home and Colonial Stores on the corner ran up from St Nicholas Street to the Soup Kitchen.  Above the recessed post box was a coin operated stamp dispenser.

Loch Street in the 1970s. Far left, corner of the new Co-op building (1970); left background, St Paul's Street School (then Aberdeen Education Authority's Music Centre); centre, the Swan Bar, Post Office, The Buttery (A B Hutchison - Bakers). All demolished for the well known Road Barricade - Bon Accord Centre.  In the 50's the former Home and Colonial store was at the Buttery site.







'Soapy' Ogston's Premises

Began as A Ogston and Son based in the Gallowgate area and was founded in 1802.  Colonel James Ogston later to be known as 'Soapy Ogston inherited the business from his father.  In 1852 he merged the Company with Glasgow based soap and candle works of Charles Tennant & Co. Ltd. to become Ogston and Tennant.

Aberdeen Soap and Candle Works, 92 Loch street;
Ogston & Tennant Limited

Female operatives are busy wrapping and stacking soap bars into trays and an earlier fly-press swings dangerously in the background surrounded by mechanical drives and travelling belts on flywheels. Repetitive work for dexterous women with hungry families.

1904 Ogston & Tennant were on Loch Street on August 13th 1904 suffered a huge fire - the date of 4th Feb 1905 is also reported.  Innes Street and Loch Street was ankle deep in flowing paraffin wax which threatened to block the sewers and drains.

On 28 June 1910 they suffered a great fire which engulfed and destroyed the Factory. Reports mention machinery crashing through the floors. Damage totalled £80,000. In 1911 the company agreed to an "association" with Lever Brothers and after the 2nd world war, they became part of the company until they ceased trading in the 1970s.

This photo shows the premises of William McKinnon & Co, Iron Founders and Engineers in Spring Garden, at its junction with Loch Street.

The company was founded by William McKinnon in 1798, when they did work for local factories. In the 1860s, they became involved in the production of equipment for Coffee, Cocoa, Rice and Sugar Plantations. The Slavers lash echoes loud in the Iron Works Industry of Spring Gardens

Production of Coffee processing machines had its beginnings in 1798 in Aberdeen,  It was there that William McKinnon began the Spring Garden Iron Works and in 1840 this Company began mass production of coffee processing machinery.  William McKinnon died in 1873 but the coffee machinery work continued.

By the 1890s, they employed 170 men, making steam engines, boilers, sugar machinery, as well as machines for polishing granite. Eventually, 90% of their manufacturing was exported; they had agencies in 60 countries worldwide and they produced catalogues in English, French and Spanish.

During World War ll, production switched to munitions work, producing shells, mortars and parts for Hercules Aero Engines. They appear to have ceased trading around 1992-93.

Calder's Record Department - 32 Loch Street.

My grandad's uncle, James Calder, had a shop in Guild Street selling furniture, and this shop swapped premises a few times.  Then he went to the Loch Street - George Street area. Selling records would not surprise me.  He was joined there in nearby premises, by my grandad's sister, Grace Calder, who perhaps opened a branch of her dad's sports shop, William Calder, also in Guild Street.  She had an interest in furniture, and her house out King St. was full of Queen Anne stuff.  Her selling records as well, would not surprise me.  My grandad in King Street sold records in his sports shop before WW2, and his cousin Jake McDonald had a music shop in Queen St., opposite Lodge Walk, selling records, sheet music, & musical instruments. When the latter closed down about 1950, the Jewish wholesale firm in London, which supplied much of his stock, said most of the Aberdeen sheet music trade died with McDonald's shop closure. He'd had a massive share of the sheet music trade in Aberdeen.  So, the Calder family did trade in records.  Anything wie a bob in it that the public wanted! - Fraser H

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Last modified: 01/09/2013