Home Up Pre-History The District The Streets City Industry The Tenement Family Names North East Art

The Doric Columns

The Covered New Market 1842~1971

The 19th century also saw the creation of grandiose Market Halls. The first of the massive halls was St John's Market, built in Liverpool in 1822. It brought the outdoor market indoors, providing greater security as well as shelter from the weather. Stalls were set up under a huge roof supported on cast-iron pillars, surrounded by walls lined with small shops. Many Victorian market halls of similar type followed. Glass roofs became increasingly popular as the century wore on. The 1st market hall to have a glass and wrought iron roof was that built at Birkenhead in 1845. A late example is Cardiff's Market Hall. In 1870s multi-storey market halls began to appear, lined with shops and with flamboyant façades. They rivalled the department stores then coming into fashion. This generation of market halls, together with shopping arcades were the precursors of the shopping malls of the 20th century.

Main Arcade looking towards the Green

On the 29th of September, 1840, the foundation stone was laid of a New Market, the principal front of which is towards a street opened about the same time between Union-street and the Quay. The structure is 318 feet in length, and 106 feet in breadth, and is divided into two storeys, the lower of which is level with the old street called the Green, and the upper has 3 spacious and elegant entrances from Market Street. The Hall, on the level of Market Street, extends the whole length of the building; it is 50 feet in height and the same in breadth, and towards its West end, near the top of the flight of steps leading to the basement storey, was a beautiful fountain of polished granite, the work of Messrs. McDonald and Leslie. The roof of the hall is supported by 58 pillars, and between them and the outer walls are the galleries, 25 feet broad, containing 53 shops and 160 yards of counter for dealers in small wares, besides a space of 50 by 28 feet at the east end, occupied weekly as a Grain Market. In the hall, under the galleries, are 53 shops, and in its area benches upwards of 370 yards in extent for gardeners and provision sellers; the basement floor contains 90 shops, and 43 yards of tables for Fishmongers. This elegant building was designed by Mr. Archibald Simpson, a native of Aberdeen, and in every respect it does the utmost credit to his acknowledged talents and taste.

Market Street was laid out in 1840 by Archibald Simpson, who had designed many of the classical buildings in the expanding nineteenth century Aberdeen. With John Smith, he was responsible for much of the essential classical character of Aberdeen city.

Aberdeen expanded greatly during the 19th century, especially in trade reliant on the Harbour, and this street was built to provide easier access from Union Street to the Harbour.

It also cleared a notorious slum area of the city called Putachieside. It took its name from a covered indoor market, (The New Market) - designed by Archibald Simpson and opened in 1842, but which subsequently burnt down in 1882. Rebuilt in 1884, the market was replaced by a British Home Stores extension in 1971.

Hidden Vaults and Catacombes formed in the creation of Market Street over the Medieval Putachieside. Putachieside was the name of a street which began at the foot of Carnegie's Brae and went south in the line of Market Street, arcing to the West around the base of St Katherine's Hill like and to the Shiprow.  All that remains of it now is the part under Union Street and a part under Market Street. It serves to connect Carnegie's Brae with the Green.

The Market Hall, Market Street, was built by a joint-stock company (1840-42), at a cost of £28,000.

It is divided into a Basement storey and a Galleried main floor, which was rounded at the Green end,

315 feet long, 106 broad, and 45 high,

has a Gothic roof of open timberwork, and itself is divided by two ranges of massive pillars into 3 Alleys, like the nave and aisles of a church.

It contained all manner of stalls and shops, and in its centre has a beautiful fountain of polished Peterhead granite, with basin 7½ feet in diameter, hewn from a single block.- (Seen above lower left and far centre on inset). What happened to this magnificent fountain it appeared to be damaged severely in the fire leaving only the main lower Bowl?

The incorporated Corn Exchange, on the Hadden Street side measuring 70 by 40 feet, and 30 high, with an open roof, was built for £1000 in 1854, 

The New Market after the 1882 Fire showing smoke damage and external superstructure the entire roof collapsed damaging the the ornate fountain and Corn Exchange and some of the masonry at the Green End - thumbnail inset shows the extensive interior damage and surviving archwork.

This was designed by Archibald Simpson working with his long time rival John Smith.

Aberdeen Market came near the end of Simpson’s life: he died at the age of 57 just five years after its completion in 1842. Markets had been held in the Green for some time and this effectively brought them under cover in a bow-ended hall over 100 metres long, with an arcaded upper level containing shops.

It was seriously damaged by fire in 1882 and then rebuilt with a wrought iron roof. Not only did it sell a wide range of goods but it also continued the Green Market tradition of being a meeting place for farmers. Simpson’s buildings were demolished in the early 1970s and replaced with the current market


Corn Exchange News-Room, 1850 - 7, Hadden Street; Chess Club every evening. Members 30. Subn. 5s. Sec. A.I. McConnochie, 1, East Craibstone Street.

New Market Entrance in Market St
But the original genius was Archibald Simpson. My attention was seized by a huge wall of granite, so bold, so simple in design, so colossal in its pro­portions that I stood puzzled.   I have seen nothing like it, before or since.  This was the New Market, by Archibald Simpson in 1842.   The magnificence of the entrance is designed to show the strength and quality of granite: the architect realised there was no point in carving this unyielding material into delicate detail.  Let the stone speak for itself and then emphasise its scale and texture by a few strong mouldings and broad pilasters projecting only an inch or so from the face of the building.  The inside of this covered market is worthy of its outside - colossal, simple, constructional.   I seemed to be stepping into one of those many vista’d engravings by Piranesi.   It was a great oblong hall with curved ends and all around a row of plain circular-headed arches rising to the glass and timber roof.   Half-way down the wall-height ran a gallery of shops.   Shafts of sun­light slanted through the arches on to the wooden shops and stalls of the central space and the surrounding gallery. - John Betjeman (Note the Fruit & Flower shop to the right next door to the New Market that enjoyed very good trade).


Archibald Simpson’s New Market of 1842 was destroyed by fire in 1882 and was rebuilt in 1892 with a wrought-iron roof and no clerestory; this is what Betjeman describes.    The arcaded interior of the bow-ended Market Hall was 320 feet long, with shops in the arcades at first floor level over­looking the vast interior space.  The granite frontage on to Market St. was particularly impressive, in a style resembling that of early Egyptian Temples. Simpson’s New Market was demolished in 1971 and was replaced by the present seriously inferior building. 

- images of the front show the extensive roof and interior damage and the surviving archwork and the adjoining Corn Exchange.  The showpiece Fountain appears to have been destroyed but for the large Basin.












Old Markets - There was a weekly market on Thursdays for meal, and on Fridays for grain, butcher-meat, and other provisions. Within the last few years several butchers' shops have been opened in different parts of the town, where a supply of meat may be obtained on any day of the week.

There was a market of Fish daily except Mondays, unless in tempestuous weather; and a supply of cured fish, including the well known "Findon Haddocks," (Finan Haddie) may be obtained daily.  A market for the sale of linen was held in the Green on the last Wednesday of April, and a wool market is held there in the last week of June, and the 1st two weeks of July, on Thursday and Friday.

The Timber-Market or Timmer Market, for the sale of tubs and other wooden articles, was held in the Castlegate on the last Wednesday in August.

The feeing-market for the hiring of farm-servants is held in the vicinity of the Meal-market at Aberdeen, on the second Friday of May and November.  (Mealmarket St is off King Street)

Besides these Markets held in Aberdeen, there were several markets for horses and cattle, held in the close vicinity of the town, as follows:

image1. At Bridge of Don, on the 1st Tuesday of each month;

2. at Mannofield, on the Dee side road, on the second Monday of each month;

3. at Ruthrieston, near the Bridge of Dee, on the 3rd Monday of each month;

4. at Old Aberdeen, on the last Thursday of April, and on the Wednesday after the last Tuesday of October.

There was and entrance to New Market off Union Street just before the cafe on Correction Wynd gap which had a long corridor leading to an enclosed  Box Bridge with high level windows over Carnegie Brae; this in turn led to the  Vaulted Cold Stores.  Then there were a dozen or so stairs up to the Upper Level of the Market where the Stamp Shop and Bookshops had their booths. 

Just before the stairs was an old Victorian Coin Slot Amusement which may have collected donations for the local Fire Brigade -

The House on Fire was the mechanically animated subject and an old large penny coin would set the clockwork action in motion.  A siren would sound a light would flash and the doors to the left would open and reveal a splendidly polished Motor Fire Engine. 

A figure with child would appear at the window and a model Fireman would ascend the red ladder to attempt a rescue and return triumphantly with a child in arms. At which time the recue being complete the Fire Engine Doors would finally close on the enraptured infant onlookers to terminate this exciting mini Drama or induce them to find another coin to repeat the exciting rescue..


Send mail to jazzmaster@jazzeddie.f2s.com with questions or comments about the design of this web site.
Last modified: 01/09/2013