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

The Doric Columns

New Market 1842~1971

Market Street

Market Street was laid out in 1840 by the architect Archibald Simpson, who designed many of the classical buildings in the expanding 19th century Aberdeen. With John Smith, he was responsible for much of the essential classical character of Aberdeen City at this time. 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. The street cleared a notorious slum area of the city called Putachieside. It took its name from a covered indoor market, designed by Archibald Simpson in 1842, but which subsequently burnt down in 1882.  Rebuilt in 1884, the market was replaced by a British Home Stores extension in 1971. 

Archibald Simpson 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. Market Street took its name from a covered indoor market, designed by Archibald Simpson in 1842, but which subsequently burnt down in 1882. Rebuilt in 1884, the Market was replaced by a British Home Stores extension in 1971.









Archibald Simpson set out Market Street, Exchange Street and Hadden Street on a grid pattern between 1840 and 1842 for the New Market Company. Market Street was designed to be in line with the Great North Road and connected Union Street to the Harbour.  At the head of the street an impressive Market Hall was built along with a Post Office near the quay and the Mechanics Institute opposite.

Vestiges of Simpson’s Architecture remain at the Caledonian Hotel, 17-21 Market Street, one of his last commissions dating to 1846 Adelphi Court, Hadden Street, Trinity Lane and the Shiprow run into Market Street.

Simpsons Covered and Arched Walkways survived the Victorian era till Bobbies directed traffic on point duty at this junction with Union Street

The Pavilion Restaurant
44 Market Street, Wines Viands and Liquors of recherche qualities. George Stephen Lessee c.1885










Built in the heart of the Victorian era, the Douglas Hotel  near the Shiprow has been welcoming visitors since 1853. A listed building makes it a much loved and well appointed landmark in the City centre.  The Douglas Hotel was built in the Victorian era and has been welcoming guests for more than 160 years. There have been a great many changes over those years, including the installation and removal of some of the beautiful Art Deco features which include the Copper Clad Canopy.



At the Cross Quay - now South Market Street - a cargo of slates (as today) was often discharged, and the boy-cook of one clean, smart Welsh schooner, called the Grampus, was my special friend. His name was "Owen," and I remember a deal with him in which I, when a small boy, traded a conical lead-pencil sharpener - then a novelty, which had cost me a penny - in exchange for two ship biscuits. I was permitted to haul on the warp when the vessel shifted her berth, and the boyish pleasure of being for the first time on a ship in motion is still remembered.  At the north-west of this dock was a most unsavoury corner, when the Denburn discharged its sewage polluted waters into the dock. A cross-berth had been formed in the angle, where, when there was congestion, and unfortunate vessel might have to lie in a stench well nigh intolerable. That evil was cured many years ago, and no sewer now discharges into the dock.  This site has 9 centuries of Maritime History

Aberdeen Mechanics' Institute 13-15 Market Street

Built for the Mechanics' Institute, this is a particularly striking building situated in a busy commercial area which is an important thoroughfare in Aberdeen. The building is well-detailed with good classical features, especially on the 1st storey, where the tall windows, the pedimented central section and the wide architraves provide a positive contribution to the streetscape of Market Street. The building was designed by renowned local Architect Archibald Simpson, who was responsible for laying out Market Street in 1840. It was one of the last buildings he designed and is therefore one of particular importance. William Ramage was apprenticed to Simpson and Drawing Master at the Institute.  The building subsequently operated as a Hotel and is currently in mixed commercial use (2006).

The Mechanics' Institute in Aberdeen began in 1824 'to afford to Tradesmen, at a cheap rate, out of their own subscriptions, opportunities of instruction by means of books, lectures and models in the various sciences connected with the exercise of their calling.'   With donations and fees, it established and built up a substantial Library which it then donated to the new Public Library in Rosemount Viaduct in 1885, when the Institute disbanded.

This Institution was commenced in 1824, soon after similar institutions had been established in several of the manufacturing towns of England and Scotland. At 1st, the plan adopted was to communicate instructions to Mechanics by means of courses of lectures at a cheap rate, on Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, etc. and the attendance on these Lectures was for a time numerous; but after a year or 2 it fell off so considerably that it was found necessary, in 1830, to discontinue the Lectures, and if the projectors of the Institution had not wisely vested a considerable part of the subscriptions originally obtained in the purchase of books, by which means (with the help of numerous donations obtained,) a valuable library was formed, otherwise the Institution's legacy would have been extinguished.

The library, however, which consists of about 1100 volumes on practical and scientific subjects, (being the best selected, and the richest, perhaps, of the collections possessed by similar institutions in Scotland,) proved a rallying point, and a few subscribers, who were sensible of the advantages to be derived from having ready access to the best writers on the subjects in which they were interested, continued to supply the funds necessary for keeping it up. In this dormant state, the institution continued till 1835, when an attempt was made to remodel it after the pattern of the School of Arts in Edinburgh, by the establishment of classes at low rates in various branches of Science and Literature. These have been since continued, and with a considerable degree of success.  In order to give regularity to the studies of the members, these classes were arranged into a curriculum extending over three sessions, and they embraced instructions in English grammar and composition, French, Geography, Mechanical and Architectural drawing, sketching, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Mensuration, Logarithms, Mechanical Philosophy, and Chemistry. The most striking feature, however, of the new arrangements is the "Mutual Instruction Class." As its name imports, the members instruct each other, and this is done by one reading a short essay or lecture on a subject previously intimated to the class, and approved of by it; after he has finished, a conversation takes place on the subject of the essay, in which the opinions advanced are impugned and defended, and additional information communicated. There is little method and no restriction as to the subjects chosen, except that controversial theology and politics are peremptorily excluded. This class has met with considerable encouragement, the number of members being during the winter season from 100 to 120; and individuals not members of the institution are admissible to it, the fees being 3s. annually from them, while those already belonging to the Institution pay a fee of 2s. The fees of the other classes are 5s. for each class, except the drawing, which is 7s.; and the price for the use of the Library is 4s., the payment of which Constitutes a Member of the Institution; while attendance on the classes is entirely optional, and open to persons not using the Library if they incline it. The number of members of the institution was about 130
Educational work of the
Aberdeen Mechanics' Institute is transferred to the Robert Gordon's College

Mechanics' Institution Public Library.
Open from 12 Noon to 3pm Afternoon, and from 6 to 9pm Evening. 
On Saturday, from 11am to 3pm only. 
General Library Annual Subscription, 2s 6d.
Select Library— Open at the same hours. Annual Subscription, 10s 6d.

The Public Libraries Acts were adopted in April 1884, and a reading room opened in the autumn of 1885, well provided with newspapers, magazines, and books of reference. A Lending Library of about 19,000 volumes was opened in March 1886 in the hall formerly known as the Mechanics' Hall, Market Street.  Since then the new Public Library in Rosemount Viaduct, erected at a cost of £10,000, was opened on 5 July 1892 by Mr Andrew Carnegie, who had contributed £1000 of the sum. The number of its volumes includes the library of the old Mechanics' Institution, originally founded in 1824. There is also the Anderson Library at Woodside,  the gift of the late Sir John Anderson, a native of Woodside.

Union Club House, 18 - 22 Market Street (Corner of Hadden Street)

George Milne Fraser (1862-1938) was born in the Parish of Methlick, Aberdeenshire and started his working life as a stone-cutter in one of the many local granite yards. An accident curtailed this form of employment, and in 1877 he joined the staff of the Aberdeen Free Press and gained a reputation for specialising in articles on Local History. This in-depth knowledge of the local area was probably 1 of the main reasons why he was appointed City Librarian for Aberdeen in 1899, despite not having had a particularly academic background. This position he held for almost the next 40 years, and was credited with numerous innovative developments in his field, particularly in the acquisition of many of the publications added to the Library's Local Collection.

Aberdeen Street Names, Their History, Meaning, and Personal Associations
Many of this author's works are relatively scarce.  Many books have been published on the History of Aberdeen, but this is the only one to have concentrated on the origin of the names of many of the streets that still survive in the city today. Mention is made of the destruction of many of the older parts of Aberdeen, particularly in the 19th century, both for slum clearance and for street widening, but it is still remarkable how many of the older streets are still in existence. It is interesting to follow how the Author reached his conclusions on the origins of some of the street names, and he was ideally suited to explore the research opportunities offered by his position as Librarian. This book is available in its original form, complete with all of the original illustrations.

52A Market Street
Late 19th century. 4-storey and attic 3 x 3-bay corner tenement building with distinctive polygonal timber attic Belvedere to corner bay and near intact openings to Public House to ground. Grey granite ashlar. Base course, cill courses, string courses, eaves cornice. Ionic pilasters separate decorative key-stoned segmental-arched openings to ground, some with cast-iron railings. Large central pedimented wallhead dormers to South and East with coped stacks above.  Deep granite canopy over opening to ground at corner. Some canted bay windows to South Elevation (Guild Street), those to 2nd storey with decorative parapets.  Predominantly plate glass timber sash and case windows, some replacement to upper storeys, plate glass to ground. Grey slates. Tall, ridged wallhead stack to West.

This is a distinctive and well-detailed Tenement building which makes a significant contribution to the Streetscape. Situated at the junction of Market Street and Guild Street, and directly across from the Upper harbour, the domed belvedere is a striking element of the building and is positioned to look directly out over the Harbour to the sea. The building is also remarkable for the retention of its original ground floor openings. Photographic evidence may suggest that the building was a Temperance Hotel in the 1920s.

The new Post Office, at the foot of Market Street, was erected (1873-76) at a cost of £16,000, and is a simple but effective edifice of Kemnay Granite, 100 feet square and 40 high, in the Renaissance style.

Robert Matheson, 1875. 2-storey and basement, 9 and 8 bay classical commercial building (former Post Office) on prominent corner site. Grey granite ashlar. Deep cornice to each storey. Cill course, deep corniced blocking course. Rounded corners with bowed glazing to South-west and Noerthwest with bracketed corbelled cornices; that to North-west with timber and glas entrance door.  Giant pilasters framing corner entrance doors and loggia.  Principal entrance to West (Market Street). Slightly advanced central 3 bays with steps leading to integral triumphal arch style loggia entrance with central pilastered round-arched opening and flanking rectangular openings with substantial decorative cast Iron Gates with Scottish Royal Coat of Arms.  Predominantly plate glass timber sash and case windows. Grey slates. Coped ridge stacks.

A fine, well-detailed classically built former Post Office by Robert Matheson on a prominent corner site and with an entrance loggia on the elevation to Market Street, closed by impressive and substantial cast iron gates.  With its rounded corners and simple classical elevations the building adds significantly to the streetscape. This building is situated on the Southern corner of the street, with one elevation to Market Street and the other to the Harbour, which was a thriving concern in the 19th century and contributed substantially to the wealth of Aberdeen. The gates are decorated with the Coat of Arms of Scotland with the Lion Rampant and the Latin motto 'nemo me impune lacessit' (nobody provokes me with impunity).  Built as a Post Office and later converted to Labour Offices, the building is now in commercial use (2006).

'The Broo'
The Unemployment Bureau was the old Post Office built on the site of the old Fish Market
The then 'new Post Office', at the foot of Market Street, was erected (1873-76) at a cost of £16,000, and is a simple but effective edifice of Kemnay granite, 100 feet square and 40 high, in the Renaissance style.  Unemployed men would wait around the street corner and the building in the hope of casual work to the first available hands.  Others would merely sign on and retire to the pub or home.  That bottom East corner of Market Street/the former 10 Shiprow used to house the then Fish Market.

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

Aerial view of Market Street showing the curve of the ShiprowProvost Ross' House and the Roof of the intended Regal Cinema with waste ground opposite following demolition of the East end of the Shiprow.  Exchange Street, Stirling Street, Trinity Lane and the old Alhambra Building with Marischal Street and Virginia Street in the distance.

Putachie Bridge
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, curving to the west. 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. When Union Street was planned the first idea was to have the whole length from Castle Street where it began, to Summer Street where it ended, in one uniform slope. Considerations of expense led first to planning it with two slopes meeting at Putachie, and, secondly, to leaving the west end nearly level and making the rest in two slopes. If the original design had been carried out the bridge over Putachieside would have been far loftier than it is, and the retaining walls on both sides of the street between Putachie and the Denburn would have been higher and more costly. As it is, Putachie Bridge cost £3634. There are arched cellars under Union Street at both ends of Putachie Bridge, and there are others under St Nicholas Street. Market Street was not formed till 1842, and there was a direct route from the Shore under Putachie Bridge, but the upper end at Carnegie's Brae was too steep for heavy-laden carts.

Hidden Vaults

Aberdeen's Awa

H.M.S. "CLYDE," 13 Guns, 1081 Tons.
Drill Ship for Royal Naval Reserve, moored in West Dock (Upper Dock)
Commander The Hon. Henry W. Chetwynd 
Surgeon Walter Laurence
Paymaster.., John Donald. 

Permanently berthed in Aberdeen Harbour was HMS Clyde a Naval Training Ship. HMS Clyde was a man o' war with 14 guns and 1081 tons. The ship was for a long time moored in the Upper Dock where it served as a training ship. Connected to the quay by a floating gangway, the ship was open to visitors on Sunday mornings. After being shifted to Victoria Dock it was towed away to be scrapped.


Bomb Damage

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