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The Doric Columns


St Nicholas Street

The Old Medieval Street layout includes the Dubbie Raw, Flourmill Lane, Upperkirkgate, Putachieside, Correction Wynd, Back Wynd and Schoolhill.

On 14th November 1807, when Union Street had just been formed, a number of old buildings were being cleared away to form St Nicholas Street to link with George Street

Young Queen in White Marble
Statue of Queen Victoria at the junction of Union Street and St Nicholas Street. The statue of Queen Victoria was sculpted by Alexander Brodie. The statue was inaugurated in 1866. The marble began to show weathering damage and was moved to the vestibule of the Town House in 1888. The plaster model of the statue can still be seen in the Music Hall.

St Nicholas Hotel graces the corner of St Nicholas Lane advertising it seems an Alloa Brewery and the marble statue of the Young Victoria graces the Plinth opposite and set well back to the base of the cast iron railings. 

The shop gable end then sported an opticians sign at Queens Corner before being altered, rendered and painted over in later years.  This marble statue was moved to the Town Hall as a result of sooty  sulphuric acid deterioration and a later now more representative and 'older' Bronze Queen erected in a new position further forward on this prime civic corner above old Putachieside. 

The St Nicholas Spire and East Church is just visible above the St Nicholas Hotel.


Statue of Queen Victoria at the junction of Union Street and St Nicholas Street. Here only the base plinth remains indicating it had been removed for cleaning and re-siting.  The original white marble statue of young Queen Victoria was sculpted by Alexander Brodie.  The statue was inaugurated in 1866. The delicate marble began to show weathering quickly due to the hard frosts and sulphurous soots was moved to the vestibule of the Town House in 1888.  The Artist's full size plaster model of the statue can still be seen in the Music Hall.  A bronze statue of the older Queen was erected in 1893 Horse drawn Trams and a lady pedestrian in pristine white stands between the tram lines indicating a more leisurely paced society. 

Queen Victoria's bronze statue now stands on the roundabout at Queens Cross facing West towards Balmoral. It was originally erected by the Royal Tradesmen of the City at the South-east corner of St. Nicholas Street and Union Street in 1893, replacing an earlier (1866) marble sculpture removed to the Town House in 1888 but was moved to its present location in 1964.

Old Queen in Bronze
A bronze statue of the older and sterner Queen was erected in 1893.

A life-size bronze statue on a pink granite pedestal and base with a low surround. The standing statue of Queen Victoria is wearing royal regalia with crown and veil. She holds a sceptre in her right hand and an orb in her left. The orb is surmounted by the winged figure of Victory.

St Nicholas Street at its junction with Union Street, showing the statue of Queen Victoria (left). The corner premises of H. Samuel the jewellers was on the Right.



The Queens Corner Shop seems to have changed hands frequently

Morrisons Economic Stores -  Queens Corner
"Raggie" Morrison, St Nicholas Street. had a cash Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1950s

Somewhat sparse street scene with pedestrians, Horse drawn and Hand delivery carts, scaffie, and No7 open topped Woodside Tram and the bronze statue of the older Queen Victoria

Queens Corner  forever being used as the main advertising gable end and H Samuel's Corner Shop - the latter  selling the then equivalent of Bling before the Commercial Bank was built.
The City Fathers decided to barricade this main northerly thoroughfare with 2 shopping precincts causing major inconvenience to all except Major Shop Chains


Education and Enterprise as young loons ply for Shoe Shine trade at the finely cast iron 'Queens Corner' Railings offering Patterson Boot Black despite one having but bare feet.  Probably an extension of a Souters Shop Trade but giving little attention to their own neglected footwear.  The boss seems to be on left with suitably blackened hands - Just call me Shine Sir!

St Nicholas Street looking up the Netherkirkgate. The old Frigate Bar is in the middle distance with the Wallace Tower to its right. The buildings on the right were demolished in the 1960s to allow the mighty Marks & Spencer group to extend their store across the Netherkirkgate and ruin the old wynd and displace a 17th cebtruy zed plan Fortress House. The Wallace Tower was relocated to a near forgotten site near Tillydrone and Seaton Park to ensure its attack by vandals.

Jeans Fashion Corner Shop in a prominent location of St Nicholas Street and the Netherkirkgate in those day Levi's were strictly American workwear.



Rubber Shop - The Rubber Shop had been in business in the city since 1890 when its founder, George Fowler opened premises at 16 St Nicholas Street called the London Rubber Company, supplying waterproofs, sports goods, hot water bottles, hosepipes, washers etc. This expanded into a wide variety of toys and leather goods. In 1945, they moved from St Nicholas Street to premises in George Street where they continued to sell toys, sports equipment, china and fancy goods until July 1986 

The Lemon Tree in Huxter Row was a much-loved favourite of the traders and businessmen of mid-19th century Aberdeen as a 'howff' or haunt where the excellence of the food was matched only by the hospitality of the hostess, Mrs Ronald.  Lemon Tree Hotel, Huxter Row, off Castle Street, which was demolished to make way for the Town House in the 1870s. The title was transferred to a house in St. Nicholas Street and more recently to the Lemon Tree Arts Venue in West North Street.

Reid & Pearson Ltd, drapers, of Aberdeen was founded in 1905 closed 1955

In February 1949, it was acquired by the Scottish Drapery Corporation Ltd, a management holding company, of Edinburgh.  In September 1952, the Scottish Drapery Corporation Ltd was acquired by House of Fraser Ltd, department store retailers, of Glasgow.  Stood on the corner of Schoolhill and St Nicholas Street with the church spire behind it. 

Reid & Pearson, George Street. Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1960s


Next door to the left was Jerome's the Portrait Photographer


Hidden Hoards

Two hoards found 3.5m apart during the construction of the St Nicholas Centre. Both were contained in pottery jugs; the 1st hoard consisted of approximately 4461 coins, the 2nd of approximately 2550.  The study of these coins has recently been completed

4500 coins of Alexander II (1249-86), Edward I (1273-1307), Alexander II (1249-86) and Robert the Bruce (1306-29) were discovered in November 1983 during trench-digging for the development of a shopping centre. Scottish and English coins were found together (this being common at the period on account of the low volume of coinage then minted in Scotland) at a depth of 12ft (3.66m), and they were quite muddy when discovered. 2500 coins of 13th/14th century date were found in similar circumstances on 1 May 1984 only yards from the site of Marks and Spencers. All are silver pennies although there are a number of metal alloy forgeries.  The hoard (which has been declared treasure trove) is similar to that found in 1983 but displays many variations in type and condition.  It is believed that St Nicholas Street was a commonly-used place for the hiding of money by citizens in the 13th and 14th centuries.

H Samuels Corner Shop
Innis Clothier - Innis and Martin Tailors

St Nicholas Street looking up towards the Netherkirkgate on the right. The old Frigate Bar could be is seen when looking up the end of Netherkirkgate and in the middle distance was the Wallace Tower to its right. This venerable zed plan fortress house and adjacent buildings on the right were demolished in the 1960s to allow Marks & Spencer to extend their store across the ancient Netherkirkgate. The Wallace Tower was relocated to a site near Tillydrone and Seaton Park.  H Samuel had a corner shop at the end of St Nicholas Street before being replaced by a new Commercial Bank of Scotland Building with splendid Corinthian Columns.  Electric trams appear bearing advertisements for local provision stores of Sir Thomas Lipton a Tea Baron.  St Nicholas Street developed into a clothes shop area with Tailors and fashion shops galore.  The Equitable Store stood on the corner of Flourmill Brae and this had a Audio Record department on the top floor.  The buildings were demolished in 1985 to make way for the St Nicholas centre. Note the gable end is free of Advertising

Sir Thomas Lipton 1850 - 1931
Thomas LiptonThomas Lipton was born in Glasgow, and at the age of 14 was a stowaway on a ship bound for America. In 1870, Thomas returned to Glasgow, and 4 years later opened his own shop. By the time he was 30, Lipton ran a chain of grocery shops, moved his headquarters to London, and was a millionaire. He demonstrated a keen sense of advertising and marketing that would help him live up to his ambition to put a Lipton shop in every Scottish town. Lipton became a household name through innovation in the tea business. At a time when tea was shipped and sold in bulk, Lipton developed tea bags, thus insuring consistency and freshness for tea consumers. He also sold different blends to different countries, to make up for variations in water from region to region, and managed to lower the cost of tea with greater efficiency of production. A keen yachtsman, he had 5 attempts in the America's cup, failing each time.

Burtons Fifty Shilling Tailors makes an entrance on St Nicholas Lane on the site of the old Hotel and Claude Alexander's Tailor shop enjoys the gable end advertising on the opposite and competing corner window locaton.

Queens Corner Clothier Store - Then Robertson's Outfitters

Queens Corner occupied by Reith Brothers

The corner of St Nicholas Street showing the Commercial Bank of 1936, a classical building by Jenkins and Marr. It is now the Royal Bank of Scotland. The Queen Victoria statue was still in place until 1964.

There are many views of St. Nicholas Street but this one is unusual in that it shows a small hut on the viaduct. A notice reads 'Recruiting and enquiry office. Gordon Highlanders, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps'. We can safely date this card to the 1914-18 Great War. Reith Brothers Clothing occupies the Queens Corner site beyond kiosk






Junction of St Nicholas Street with George Street C1956 in the days before traffic lights when there would be a policeman on point duty directing traffic at major intersections.  To the left is Schoolhill and Upperkirkgate is on the right. The Rubber shop is present opposite Martins the Butcher - Meat to Please You. -  all in what would have been the line of Tannery Street.  The McEwans pub on the corner dispensing the creamiest of bitters which were difficult to pour but a delight to the palate before being taken over to form Scottish and Newcastle homogenised bright beers.  The tram wires cobweb themselves over the skyline and a local RG registration Ford Popular looks to be the only car among a wealth of Jaywalking shoppers so it appears to be about noon on a Saturday. Reid & Pearsons is extreme left.  A Woodside tram wends its way along George Street opposite Martins  on the left.  A white coated policeman is on point duty  which was standard until the advent of traffic lights.  The Rubber Shop sign stands out as does the Architecture.  This picture seems to be taken on a Saturday perhaps around noon. 


Little Woolies (F W Woolworths) and Vogue for shopping on the corner of Flourmill Lane.  Little Woolies was a scaled down version of the larger 3 storey Big Woolies in Union Street and may have been their first store in Aberdeen with only 1 trading Floor.










Gibbs Map of Aberdeen 1888


The Equitable Shop

Flourmill Brae                                                            John Colliers Tailors

St Nicholas Church dominates this wintery old 1928 aerial view. With Back Wynd, Belmont Street, with 'Coliseum' clearly painted on the roof of the old Cinema-formerly Trades Hall for our amazement. Correction Wynd, Shoolhill and George Street  surround it.  The Cowdrey Hall and Art Gallery form the facade in front of Gordons College.  The Green and the New Market are clearly defined as is the rear of Trinity Hall and the adjacent Suburban Lines leading to the Triple Kirks. A rare view of what was the extent of the old Medieval town centre where ships could navigate the Denburn stream as far as the Bow Brig area.  Marischal College the Gallowgate and Seamount are evident as is the cleared site area used for Strathcona Hall.  The faded area denies us the view of St Katherine's Hill flattened to form the Adelphi and Union Street.  The line of Loch Street suggests the last surviving outline of the old Medieval Marsh Loch by St Paul's Chapel.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013