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First Trinity Hall 7 Trades Artefacts Trade Apprentices

The Seven Incorporated Trades

The craftsmen in Aberdeen came to be divided into seven separate Guilds, Hammermen, Bakers, Wrights and Coopers, Tailors, Shoemakers, Weavers, and Fleshers, each with its own Deacon and office-bearers, and having at their head a Deacon-convener and head court, consisting of the office-bearers of the individual Trades. These seven societies, however, embraced a number of separate and, to some extent, distinctive handicrafts. The Hammermen, for instance, have at one time or other included Cutlers, Pewterers, Glovers, Goldsmiths, Blacksmiths, Gunsmiths, Saddlers, Armourers, Hookmakers, Glaziers, Watchmakers, White-ironsmiths, and Engineers; the Wrights and Coopers, Cabinetmakers and Wheelwrights; and the Tailors, Upholsterers.  But the classes of craftsmen that associated under one Deacon had always something in common. The Hammermen were craftsmen with whom the use of the hammer was a leading feature, Glovers in the olden times being makers of much more substantial articles than are used nowadays, while Saddlers made the iron as well as the leather parts of harness; the Wrights and Coopers dealt in the same material; and the upholsterers were classed along with the Tailors, because they used the needle and thread.

  • Weavers (pre 1222)
  • Bakers (1398)
  • Tailors (1511)
  • Hammermen (1519)
  • Shoemakers (1484 and 1520)
  • Wrights and Coopers (1527)
  • Fleshers (1534)

The Old Trades Hall - Tarnty Ha'

Trinity Corner, ran from 102 Shiprow to 2 Putachieside

Regarding the house of the Holy Trinity at Aberdeen, Kennedy remarks : "King William in the latter end of his reign established a branch of the Order at Aberdeen, whither he sent in the year 1211, two Friars, who had been recommended to him by Pope Innocent ; and granted and confirmed to them his Palace and Garden on the South side of the town, for their Convent." Their church remained entire until the end of the 18th century, when it was demolished. The Trinity Friars Place at Aberdeen gave name to Trinity Burn, now better known as the Denburn, and the Trinity Port at the south end of the Shiprow, one of the 6 Ancient Gates of the burgh which was removed some 200 years ago. King Robert Bruce, by a Charter dated in the I4th year of his reign, granted to the community of Aberdeen the privilege of holding their Trinity Fair within the Burgh.

The Old Trades Hall in the Shiprow, Aberdeen. c.1850 This area, at the southern end of the Shiprow, was the site of the Monastery of the Trinity Friars until 1559 when it was burnt to the ground by Protestant Reformers. In 1631, having purchased the lands, Dr William Guild, gifted their old Chapel and other buildings to be a hospital and meeting house for the Seven Aberdeen Incorporated Trades. These were Hammermen, Bakers, Wrights and Coopers, Tailors, Shoemakers, Weavers, and later the Fleshers. Dr Guild was one of Aberdeen's ministers and afterwards became Principal of Kings College. The Chapel became an Episcopal Church until 1794 when it was removed and replaced by the building seen at the left of the photograph.  It was vacated in 1843, when the Congregation joined the Free Church, and was then sold and eventually became the Alhambra Music Hall until 1902. On the right was the Trades or Trinity Hall - often known as the Tarnty Ha. It had a projecting wing tower and corbelled angle turret, and was demolished around 1857 for Railway development. The Trades had already moved into their new premises in Union Street in 1846.

The extension of the railway system to Aberdeen sealed the fate of the old Trades Hall. When the Aberdeen Railway was projected in 1844, the hall and site, which extended from the foot of the Shiprow to near the present line of railway, were scheduled, and although not required for railway purposes, the buildings had to come down when Guild Street and Exchange Street were constructed. The last of the buildings was taken down in 1857, and while the excavating operations were in progress a careful watch was kept for relics and antiquities, the following notes being taken by a local antiquarian at the time :-
" A great number of human bones were found when the digging for Guild Street commenced, which had probably been the site of the ancient burial grounds of the Trinity Friars. It had extended to the south end of the convent, and ran east from the side of the church for some space. The bones were generally in a very great state of decay, the skulls dropping to pieces when lifted. The remains of a coffin in one instance were found, which fell to dust on exposure. About the middle of this part of the ground were found a bit of iron resembling a key, and the bowl of a small spoon curiously ribbed on the back. The foundation walls of the hall, which were probably those of the old convent, were built with lime on the outside and with clay between the stones. The walls were several feet in thickness. At the east end of the hall, 12 or 13 feet below the surface, were found the remains of a more ancient building, composed of rude stones cemented with clay. Below some of the lowest were found oaken boards which seem to have formed part of some ancient vessel, and near the same place 5 or 6 oaken beams were found, which had probably supported rafters in the old building (King William the Lion's Palace). They had holes in the side as for the ends of posts being morticed into them. The ground here was very moist, puddled with clay and small stones. On excavating westward, the old wall was found continued along the side of the more modern one at the distance of about 14 inches. About the middle of this part of the building a silver tablespoon was found, much corroded as if by the action of fire. A portion of what looked like a buff jerkin, and some remains of old shoes with very large hobnails in the heels, were also found."

Second Trinity Hall, Union Street

Close to the South East corner of Union Bridge is the Trades Hall, a fine Elizabethan granite structure, erected in 1847 at a cost exceeding £7000, and containing an antique set of carved oak chairs (1574), portraits by Jameson, and the shields of the Seven Incorporated Trades

Hammermen (1519), Bakers (1398), Wrights and Coopers (1527), Tailors (1511), Shoemakers (1484 and 1520, Weavers (1449), and Fleshers (1534) - whose curious inscriptions form the subject of a monograph (1863) by Mr Lewis Smith.

Trinity Hall Union Street - 1846

2nd Trinity Hall - Haddens Factory stand behind on the Green and Albert's Statue has pride of Placing opposite the Palace Hotel

1844-6. 2-storey, 5-bay, turreted and castellated Tudor-gothic Trinity Hall, Grey granite ashlar. String courses, cornice. Hoodmoulds. Pointed segmental arched window openings with simple tracery. Stepped, crenellated parapet punctuated by slender hexagonal ogee-domed turrets with similar clasping turrets to corners.

The New Trades Hall, situated at the South-east end of Union Bridge, was erected in 1846 after plans drawn by Mr. John Smith, Architect.  The main entrance is from Union Street, and on the first floor are the Hall, measuring 60 feet by 30 feet, with open ornamental roof; 2 Committee Rooms, a Common Room, and Retiring Room. From the Denburn side, entrance is obtained to the School Rooms, used as a Trades School up to 1878. In the upper portion of the building are the Kitchen and Housekeeper's apartments; and immediately above the school is the Strong Room, in which are stored the books and papers belonging to the different Incorporations.

The Second Trinity Hall was opened on 6th March 1847,  also known as the The Trades Hall was built for the Seven Incorporated Trades in 1846 by John Smith and William Smith, (the 3rd hall was opened on Holburn Street in October 1967 -

Designed by the celebrated architects John and William Smith, it is a particularly striking termination to the South side on Union Street. There are subsequent surrounding modern 20th century additions, but the building still retains a distinctive and unusual quality. It was built for the Seven Incorporated Trades, a body formed in the 16th century to protect the rights and privileges of Traders and was a replacement for an earlier building on a old Trinitarian Monastry site, which was subsequently demolished to accommodate the Railway Station and a new Guild Street alignment. The entrance door of the old Hall was transferred to the new, and parts of this may still remain. By the 1840s, the Seven Incorporated Trades had become a Charitable and Social organisation.

John Smith (1781-1852), was a native of Aberdeen, who established himself in architectural practice in the City in 1804 and whose father William, was also an Architect for many buildings in Aberdeen. John became the Master of Work in 1824 and designed many of Aberdeen's public buildings, showing an expertise in working with granite. With Archibald Simpson, (1790-1847), he was one of the major architects involved in designing the expanding 19th century city of Aberdeen. This building earned him the title `Tudor Johnnie'. William (1817-1891) was his son, who became a partner in his father's practice in 1845. Trinity Hall was his first commission. The Tudor Gothic design was reputed to have impressed Prince Albert sufficiently that he appointed William Smith as Architect for Balmoral Castle. 


Knocket Doon Syndrome. 

The ground floor had already been desecrated by turning it into a Glass Fronted McMillan's Toy Shop.








Third Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall - Holburn Street. Mackie Ramsay and Taylor 1964. This is the 3rd Trinity Hall to be occupied by the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen. The original was created from the former Trinitarian Friary (hence the name) when this was acquired in 1631.  The first purpose-built Trinity Hall dates from 1847 and the building, on Union Street, now incorporates one of the entrances to the Trinity Shopping Centre. The current building re-uses the traceried windows of its predecessor but otherwise the architecture is very much of its period. The interior is very dramatic and contains many furnishings and artefacts that have been used in all 3 Halls.

The Seven Incorporated Trades

In 1222, Alexander II granted Aberdeen a Charter confirming the existence of a Merchant Guild, with powers including the monopoly of making cloth. Among Burgesses of the Burgh named in the Council Registers are Thomas Johannis, weaver, (1399), Girkin Webster (1399) and David Castell, weaver (1591).  It is sometimes implied that only the very coarse tabby cloth found on excavations was manufactured in Aberdeen for use as sacking, blankets and shrouds. However it is very probable that some of the higher quality textiles discovered were also locally made, rather than imported from Flanders.  The only weaving implements found in Aberdeen so far have belonged to an upright loom, which is usually associated with more primitive cloths. Similarly, archaeological remains have included spindle whorls for drop spinning, indicating cottage industry rather than professional craftwork at that stage of the cloth production process. Neither spinners nor weavers would in themselves have had a great impact on the environment, although they formed an integral part of an industry which undoubtedly did.

Arms of the Weavers - the Oldest Tradesmans Guild -
Incorporated before 1222

Arms [15th May,
1682]. - Azure, 3 Leopard's heads erased argent, each having in mouth a weaver's shuttle or; in the middle chief a tower of Aberdeen. Motto: Spero in Deo et Ipea facit.


The 1st property purchased by the Weavers was the Angell Croft, in 1695. The other properties belonging to this Trade are land at Borrowstown, Parish of Newhills; Whitemyres, part of the 4th lot of the lands of Shetocksley; lands of Pitmuckston; and feus at Craibstone Rig, Gordon Street, Wellcroft, Denburn, and Green.

Arms of the Bakers' Tradesmen's Guild - 1398

with motto "Floreant pistores, panis nil saturat, Deus ni benedicat" -

A list of 'baxstars', or bakers, along with their unique identifying stamps or marks.  These would have been imprinted into every loaf of bread they made so that they could be identified as the baker.  It also meant that if their bread was not up to standard, then the authorities knew who had made it. 

Bakers had high standards to maintain and if inferior flour was used then the baker was punished as a result.  The entry is an interesting one as it gives us an idea of the kinds of things the council and others had authority over.  For example, an entry dated 5 September 1442 states that "the penny lafe wey 24 vnce of bakin brede at the leste", meaning that the loaf had to weigh at least 24 ounces once baked. 

[15th May, 1682]. - Or, 2 baker's peels in saltire gules, each charged with 3 loaves in pale argent, between a tower of Aberdeen in chief, and a millrind in base of the 3rd [!] Motto: Floreant Pistores.

The mill rind is affixed to the top of the main shaft or spindle and supports the entire weight of the runner stone, which can be as much as several tons. The rind is necessary because the grain is fed through the runner stone's central hole, so the spindle cannot be inserted through it like a cartwheel on an axle.  The face of a runner stone usually has a carved depression, called the "Spanish cross", to accommodate the millrind.

A St Fitticks Church gravestone is inscribed in Latin. The translation reads 'William Mylne, tenant of Kincorth, slain by his enemies on the 10th of July, 1645, for the cause of Christ, here rests in peace from his labours. This man, whom piety, probity, and God's holy covenant made happy, fell by the sword of a savage Irishman. I am turned to ashes.  The shield is decorated with a capital I, symbolising a mill-rind so he may have been a Baxter. Under this is a mullet, or 5-pointed star.

The Estate of Kincorth, Nellfield Cemetery, Garden Neuk, Gilcomston; Butts of Footdee, and feu-duties in Tannery Street are the principal Properties belonging to this Incorporation.

James Lockhart b. 1819 Kirkcaldy d. 1881 Aberdeen was the co-founder with brother in law John Salmond of Lockhart & Salmond, bakers, confectioners, restaurateurs and lemonade manufacturers in various locations Aberdeen City from 1859-1953, last address 31-33 Forbes Street.

Arms of the Tailors' tradesmen's guild, with motto "In God is our Trust", dated 1682 - Incorporated 1511

There is some evidence that the Aberdeen tailors, who in 1399 included Willelmus Blacberd and Willelmus Scissor, were formed into an association from at least the 15th century.

This is partly because there was a strong will to prevent the encroachment of women into the craft. In the 18th century this stand was relaxed slightly and women were allowed to make some female garments,

Aberdeen's Tailors Trade being the only one in Scotland to make such a concession.

The Tailor Trade obtained a private Act of Parliament in 1853 "to confirm the titles and conveyances, and to amend and regulate the affairs of the said Craft." The ground and properties purchased from time to time by this Trade include the Sillyward Croft, near Schoolhill; Craigmill Croft, Gallowhill Croft, Coul's Croft, Summer's Croft, two rigs at Sandy-lands, northmnost half of Symon Croft, pieces of land at Ferryhill and Cooperstown, 6 lots of the land at Pitmuxton, Combs Croft, now called the lands of Newbridge; ground in the neighbourhood of the Harbour, etc.

Arms of Hammermen Tradesmen's Guild, with motto "Finis coronat opus" - 1519

[15th May, 1682].- Gules, a dexter arm issuing from the sinister flank fessways, the hand hearing a smith's hammer proper hafted argent, and over it a crown or; in the dexter nombril a smith's anvil of the second, and above the same in chief a tower of Aberdeen [triple-towered argent]. Motto: Finis coronat opus.

Hammermen originally comprised craftsmen associated with metalworking - traditionally "men who wielded the hammer", namely blacksmiths, goldsmiths, lorimers, cutlers, armourers, sword-makers, clockmakers, locksmiths, pewterers, tinsmiths etc. The Incorporation of Hammermen's crest is a hammer surmounted by a crown. Today, "these men of the Hammer" embrace every aspect of modern engineering in all its disciplines and, as a consequence of admission of sons of members, many other trades and professions are represented.

The chief properties acquired by the Hammermen Trade since 1694 are the Craibstone rig, on the north side of the Bow Bridge; the baulk rig of Hazninerfield; the lands of Hammer-field; the croft of Futtiesmyre, near the Links; Tohnie's Croft, "in the territories of Footie;" the Sow Croft, near the Heading Hill; the Dean's Croft, Old Aberdeen; Longland's Croft, on the King's Highway leading to the Bridge of Dee;" Dunn's Croft, "near the Crabestone;" Windmill Croft; Greathead Croft, Dee Street; part of Clayhills; piece of ground on the west side of Union Terrace; part of Poynernook, &c.

Arms of the Shoemakers' Tradesmen's Guild, with motto "Lord crown us with glory" - 1484 and 1520

[18th November, 1681].— Gules, a shoemaker's shaping knife fess-ways, with the edge turned towards the Chief, the blade proper and hafted argent; over the same a Crown or ; and in the dexter canton a Tower of Aberdeen. Motto: Lord crown us with Glory.

Patron Saints for the Cordiners - shoemakers - St. Crispen and St. Crispinian.  They were the brothers St Crispian and St. Crispinian said to have been of the Crown, who settled in the middle of the 3rd Century to preach the Gospel. In order to make a living they worked as shoemakers at nights, and legend has it that the Angels supplied them with materials for their work. October 25, the anniversary of the day which they were martyred is still celebrated in the Shoemaking Trade. For a long time a French shoemaker’s kit was referred to as his “St Crispin”, and his awl as “St Crispin’s Lance.

In 1854 the Shoemakers obtained a private Act of Parliament to confirm their titles and conveyances, and to regulate the administration of the funds and affairs of the craft. It is drawn in similar terms to the Acts obtained by the Hammermen and the Bakers. For a long time the Shoemaker Craft was in very straitened circumstances. Much of its annual revenue was spent in litigation and protecting its exclusive privileges; but about a century ago matters improved financially, and the Trade are now Proprietors of part of the lands of Ferryhill, Drywell Park (now Watson Street), Clay Croft (Gilcomston), Well Croft, and part of Marywell Croft, Lochfield Croft, part of Hardweird Croft, part of Queen Street, West North Street, and Shoe Lane; and Dirty Riggs. This last mentioned piece of ground was afterwards called "The Broad Rig and Yaird," and it now forms the North Lodge grounds. In the year 1723 it belonged to Alexander Fraser of Powis, in which year he sold it. It was again sold in 1731 and in 1732; and in 1734 it was purchased by Francis Laflesh, who sold it to the Shoemaker Trade in 1737


Arms of Wrights and Coopers, granted in 1696, with motto "Our Redeemer liveth for ever".- Incorporated 1527

Arms - Quarterly. 1st: Gules, a Tower of Aberdeen. 2nd: Gules, a Compass or 3rd: Azure, a square or. 4th: Azure, a Wright's Axe argent, classed or. Motto: Our Redeemer liveth for ever.

[6th April, 1696. New Grant].– Quarterly. First: Gules, a Wright's Compass or. Second: Azure, a Cooper's Axe argent. Third: Azure, a Square or. Fourth: Gules, a Cooper's Compass or. Over all, on at escutcheon, the Coat of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen (Gules, three Towers triple-towered, within a double tressure flowered and counter-nowered argent). Above the shield, on a suitable helmet with a mantle gules doubled argent, and wreath or, gules, argent and azure, is set for crest an adder in circle proper, with this motto in an escroll above: Our Redeemer liveth for ever.

The Wrights and Coopers are Superiors or Proprietors of a portion of the Estate of Garthdee, ground at King Street Road, Princes Street, Canal Terrace, Bon-Accord Street, Crown Street, Loanhead Terrace, Springbank Terrace, Rosebank Terrace, Gallowgate-Head, Banchory Park, Urquhart Road, Mounthooly, Old Aberdeen, &c.

The Fleshers' Armorial Bearings, with motto "Virtute vivo" - Incorporated 1534

[15th May, 1682].—Gules, 3 Flesher's knives fess-ways In pale, and on the dexter side an axe paleways, the edge towards the sinister, all the blades proper and hafted argent; in the middle chief a Tower of Aberdeen. Motto: Virtute vivo.

When Dr. Guild gifted the Trinity Monastery to the Trades in 1633, no mention was made of the Fleshers in the Deed of Gift, but, in 1657, Dr. Guild, under the following special agreement, consented to the Fleshers being joined with the others, thus making up the number of the Trades who were to have a common Meeting-house and Hospital to the present number of Seven.



The Masons obtained a Seal of Cause in 1532 along with the Wrights and Coopers, but beyond being coupled with them in the same Seal of Cause the Masons never became part of the Society formed by the Wrights and Coopers. When the Seal of Cause was obtained, the Masons elected their own deacon, formed a society for themselves, passed bye-laws, and accumulated funds in the same manner as the other Associations. But about the middle of the 17th century their Society underwent a curious metamorphosis. Free or "speculative" Masonry was introduced into Aberdeen shortly after the Mason Craftsmen obtained their Seal of Cause, but little was heard of the Mysteries of Masonry until some time after the Reformation, when a regular Lodge was formed in connection with the Masons' Craft Society about 1670. At the outset, Freemasonry was simply an adjunct of the original association of craft masons; but gradually it became its leading feature, and the incorporation of mason artificers eventually became what is now known as the Aberdeen Mason Lodge. The "olde book" of the Aberdeen Lodge contains the "lawes and statutes for reasones gathered out of thir old wreatings by us, who ar the authoires and subscriberis of this booke," and the great bulk of these ordinances have reference to the rules of the incorporation, and are drawn up in similar terms to those enacted by the other craft incorporations in the town. They have nothing whatever to do with Speculative Masonry, which did not obtain prominence until a charter was obtained from Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1743.

These separate Societies having as it were swarmed off by themselves, the Seven remained as a compact body, and have acted together for over 250 years, aiding and assisting each other in preserving their rights and privileges, and amalgamating for the purpose of instituting various general funds for the benefit of their members and dependants.

In the 18th Century Aberdeen's Industries thrived.  Aberdeen noted for the manufacture of Linen.  From the mid-18th century another industry was Whaling.  Whalers from Aberdeen sailed to Greenland. The blubber from whales was used for clean burning lamps.  Communications to and from Aberdeen improved in the 19th century.  A Canal to Inverurie was completed in 1807. The Railway arrived in Aberdeen in 1850. The railway meant it was possible to 'export' cattle from Aberdeen to other parts of the country. Steam Trawling arrived in Aberdeen in 1882. The old industry of Granite Production went into decline in the early 20th Century.  It ceased altogether in 1971. However new industries came along. The fate of Aberdeen was changed by the discovery of North Sea oil.  After experimental drilling in 1970 the Council set aside land for new oil related industries.  New industrial estates were built in and around Aberdeen at that time. The first North Sea Oil arrived in Aberdeen in 1975. Oil soon became the main industry in the City and it brought considerable prosperity.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013