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The Doric Columns

New Torry

Aberdeen from the South by James William Giles 1801-1870 from a location on Torry Hill above Craiglug looking out across the River Dee valley with St Clements Church in Fittie on the right and the Tollbooth Spire centre and to its right Castle Hill

The Foundry chimney stacks indicate the industrial sites in Footdee.  The north bank is shown as woodland which may be artistic licence for the artists period.


Tullos Hill was the location of an anti-aircraft battery and later a prisoner of war camp in World War II. A few remnants of hut bases from that era survived on the hill.  A heavy anti-aircraft battery is situated some 300m SW of the summit of Tullos Hill. The position consisted of a full battery of 8 gun emplacements in an S shape, 5 in the same field as the present Peterseat Cottage and 3 in the field to the NE. The command position was central to the group of 5 emplacements and the accommodation camp was situated on both sides of a field boundary 150m to the NW. The remains of the battery are visible on aerial photograph flown 1946.

1949 - A report on the sudden and serious diminution in work at Tullos Factory Limited, Aberdeen, which made agricultural and other machinery for both Home and Export use; the resulted in a 1/3rd of the 400 workforce being laid off.  Formerly Government owned it had been sold to private owners.

Near Abbotswell there was a Chapel and Burial-place, the ruins of which are recorded as visible towards the end of the 17th Century, while the old name of the burn, which enters the Dee opposite Duthie Park, "the Spital Burn," suggests the hospital or lodging for pilgrims, which once stood on its banks.  Abbotswell derives from the historical association with the Abbey of Arbroath. In particular this name is an echo of the place name Abbots Walls and is supposed to recollect the walls of the residence that the Abbot of Arbroath Abbey used when visiting his lands. Although the exact location of that building is now lost to us, as a place name it 1st occurs on maps from about the 18th century.

On the panels of a Memorial at Nigg Church in Kincorth are recorded the names and places of origin of those who fell in both World Wars. There are no references to ranks or units, only to Farms or Districts in the immediate area:-
Abbotswell, Altens, Burnbanks, Charleston, Cove Bay, Kincorth, Kirkhill, Kirkton, Leggart, Loirston, Parkhead and Tullos.  Names of the 1st World War fallen are on the upper part of the memorial with the 2nd World War casualties below.

Diversion of the River Dee

The diversion of the River Dee was effected under a contract which amounted to nearly £60,000. Borings made in the channel formed for the river yielded fresh water, but it rose and fell in harmony with the rise and fall of the tide. The whole area of the estuary of the Dee, and also the bed of the river for a good way up, had been at one time a bed of fine laminated clay resting upon sand. Water from the river enters below the upper edge of the clay, and passing through the sand comes out at the lower edge of the clay, where the Navigation Channel begins. As the tide rises the under current of water is stopped and rises in bores, but it runs away again when the tide falls. About 200 yards below Craiglug Bridge, where there was anciently a ferry, dressed sandstone blocks were found. They could hardly have been the remains of a bridge over the river, but they might have been in a pier projecting into the river, at which passengers and horses embarked and disembarked. Farther down beams of oak were found, still connected together. These might have formed part of a wooden bridge, formed with planks resting on piles driven into the River bed. Such a bridge would easily have been constructed - one in Switzerland is carried across a broad lake - but it would have been in danger from ice and snow coming down the river.  This might have been the bridge for the upholding of which John Crab made a bequest. The diversion of the River cost £37,000, and as the salmon fishers were tenacious of their rights and obstructed the operations of the Commissioners an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1871, empowering the Commissioners to purchase The Fishings at a price to be fixed by arbiters. £38,000 was paid for the Fishings in the sea within the new breakwater and for those in the river up to the Chain Bridge at Craiglug.  The material excavated from the new channel for the river was employed in filling up the old channel, and by this and the dredgings from the Victoria Dock a large extent of ground was reclaimed. Some material was obtained also from the Point of the Inches, which was removed lo facilitate the entrance of large ships into the dock.

The Navigation Channel was cleared of all obstructions by the removal of the greater part of the 'old breakwater' and the South Pier, only the end of it being left. Both these works had cost, much money and had been regarded as great improvements when they were made. In dredging the Navigation Channel, cairns built up around posts were found and removed, and the channel was widened out to 300 feet. The posts had been used in warping ships into the Harbour against the wind

The North Piers
The completion of the new South Breakwater in 1873 allowed the extension of the North Pier to be begun in 1874. It was formed of stones and gravel brought by rail from the Bay of Nigg, and sand carted from the Hill of Balnagask. All had to be transported across the River.  It was built on sand above glacial stony clay, in 15 ft of water at low tide. The lower part was made with hags of semi-liquid concrete, each 50 tons in weight, deposited from a Well in a steam hopper barge. The base course was formed of bags laid longitudinally, to the width of 120 feet; the 2nd was formed of bags laid across these; the 3rd of hags laid longitudinally, to the width of 55 feet; and the 4th of bags 40 feet long, stretched across the whole width of the pier, from outside to outside. It was Brought up in this way within 2 feet of the surface of the water at low tide, and upon this foundation blocks of concrete, 600 tons in weight, were formed in frames.  A parapet, 7 feet, was built on the north side of the pier, and another, not so high, on the south edge; and a Light-house was erected at the eastern extremity.  The extension of the North Pier was completed in October, 1877.  The length stated in the Act of 1868 was 166 yards, and though while the work was in progress a further extension of 500 yards was contemplated several considerations led to the abandonment of this proposal. The South Breakwater was planned to be 1200 feet in length, but it was curtailed and made only 1050 to make the Harbour more easily taken by ships coming from the South. It was thought that to extend the North Pier would alter the aspect of the entrance to the Harbour materially from the Parliamentary plans which had been prepared for the Act of 1868 by the eminent Engineers Hawkshaw and Abernethy. Moreover, there remained at the command of the Harbour Commission only £42,000 of £293,000 authorised by the Act of 1868, and it was thought best to defer further operations till a new Act should be obtained. The annual revenue of the Harbour had risen to £6,000, and it was believed that it was safe to undertake some desirable new works.

Harbour Bar 1880
The herring fishing began at Aberdeen in 1836 at the instigation of the fishermen of the Cove and Portlethen. Some provision for accommodating herring boats had been made at Point Law, and it was proposed to do more for the promotion of this industry when there was more money at the command of the Harbour Board.

Upper & Lower Torry
These were the 1st 2 hamlets from which modern Torry developed. These settlements were part of a series of lands, stretching down to Cove on the east coast, which belonged to the Abbot of the Abbey of Arbroath from the 12th century until the reformation in 1560. Lower Torry seems to have been the larger of the 2 settlements. In 1495 the Abbot received a charter from James IV erecting Torry into a Burgh of Barony. This was to help develop services for travellers coming to Aberdeen. The subsequent building of  Auld Bridge of Dee the more westerly route south in the 1520s was probably instrumental in ensuring that Torry never developed as a Burgh of  Barony. But the community continued to grow. In 1535 there is the name of Torry’s 1st pub, ‘Le Sandy Velle’. The hamlets were composed of a number of different crofts. By the late 18th century Lower Torry had begun to develop into what we know as Auld Torry.

Historical records show that people have been living in Torry since at least the 12th century. However some archaeological finds show that people have been living in this area since at least 8000-10000 years ago.  Historically Torry developed as 2 separate Towns known as Upper and Nether (Lower) Torry. What we call ‘Old Torry’ developed from Nether Torry, whilst Upper Torry was located roughly in the area of the west end of Sinclair Road. Torry is 1st mentioned in a document dated 1484 although by that time the Town was probably already of some age.  By the 18th century the land was in part owned by the City of Aberdeen  and the Lairds of Pitfodels (the Menzies family) on the other.  Problems arose from legal disputes between the 2 parties as to exactly what bits of land they owned and eventually, after arbitration, the lands were split between the 2 owners.  Aberdeen got the Coastal Area and Menzies Lairds of Pitfodels the Riverside Areas.  What we know as Old Torry developed in the early 19th century out of the old medieval settlement of Nether Torry,  whilst what we call Torry today is a product of the late 19th century when the area began to expand rapidly. New streets were laid out forming the pattern we are familiar with today and services and amenities followed. In 1891 Torry (Kincardineshire) was amalgamated with the City of Aberdeen.

Victoria Road - This was one of the 1st streets to be developed when ‘new’ Torry began to develop in the late 19th century. As the population of Aberdeen grew and as there were advances in fishing technology, there was a need for new space. After some very controversial debate, a private company, The Torry Land Association, purchased the land previously occupied by Torry Farm. The 1st houses on what would become Victoria Road, No.s 104 and 110, were built after 1883, by Calder Duncan and David Alexander. However, the original villas have since been demolished and replaced by tenements. After Victoria Road, the next streets to develop were Menzies Road and Walker Road. Victoria Road retains something of a village feel to it along with its grand 19th century tenements.  The illustration depicts the Torry Farm as a Cemetary with Obelisk in Memory of the 'Founder 1869' with signs declaring 'Cheap' and 'to be fued cheap' with the New Victoria Bridge, the Railway and the Wellington Bridge at Craiglug.

Victoria Road - Archibald Simpson laid out Victoria Road in Torry as the community grew in the 19th century with the booming trawling industry. Torry had a Charter as a Burgh of Barony from about 1495, which entitled the Burgh to hold a weekly market and control trades and crafts in the area. Torry merged with the City in 1891, but did not see a motor bus service until 1921.

As late as 1893, when horse trams were established in the town centre, the inhabitants of the growing suburb of Torry successfully petitioned for a horse bus service, passenger fares being set at one penny with creels a penny extra. The service operated from Guild Street to avoid the steep ascent of Market Street, and was much favoured on public holidays for picnics at the Bay of Nigg.  By 1891, the Burgh boundaries had extended to absorb Old Aberdeen, Woodside, Ruthrieston, Ferryhill and Torry, the total now named the Municipal Burgh of Aberdeen. Population in these outlying areas was growing fast. Torry's population of 473 in 1861 had increased to 2933 by 1891, largely associated with the newly completed Albert Basin and re-located Fish Market.  Between 1871 and 1891, the population of Aberdeen had risen from 88,198 to 124,943, and by 1901 it reached 153,503.  Like other cities in Great Britain, Aberdeen was rapidly expanding, with the result that parts of the City were no longer served by the existing tramways. At a council meeting in 1921 it was therefore decided to open out all new routes with buses. The 1st bus ran between Castle Street and Footdee on 10th January 1921. Six months later, as the bus fleet increased, the service was extended to Balnagask Road, Torry.  As was so often the case, there was direct competition between trams and buses.

Shop 203 Victoria Road

75 Victoria Road

Torry Map of 1901 showing Victoria Road, Menzies Road, Walker Road and Grampian Road. A Football and Cricket Ground adjoins the River Bank at Sinclair Road but soon succumbed to the demands of the Fishing Industry for processing and fish box manufacture. Smoke Houses were built along Sinclair Road and Crombie Road was introduced.

Torry includes a large housing estate developed as a "garden suburb" to relieve overcrowding in Aberdeen. It is famous for its fishing community and still has a number of fishing businesses operating close to the Dee. However, most of the old fishermen's cottages of Old Torry have been swept away by 1st the re-channelling of the River Dee, then later by the fast developing Fishing Industry,  Torry was also home to the Fisheries Research Laboratory, as well as Craiginches Prison.

Torry Fire and Police Station, 1891
The 1st Fire Station in Torry was located at the junction of Victoria Road and Sinclair Road. This was a wooden building which incorporated Police Cells, as well as fire hose reels and hand drawn ambulances.  The decision to erect this building had been taken as a consequence of the amalgamation of Torry (along with Woodside and Old Aberdeen) into the City of Aberdeen in 1891. Prior to this the area had come under the jurisdiction of Kincardineshire Police. Chief Constable Wyness planned a series of sub stations to be erected across the City. The one in Torry was made of teak and similar to Glasgow’s sub police stations.

Torry Police and Fire Station, 1898
In 1898 the station was moved to the Torry side of Victoria Bridge. Today the site is occupied by a café. The building again housed both a Fire Station and a Police Station. The sub fire station was equipped with 2 hand carts, 1 with a 250 foot hose reel, whilst the other carried 300 feet of hose and 2 small ladders. The Fire Station continued in use until the early 1920s when all sub stations within Aberdeen were closed and the Fire Service became fully motorised.

Torry Auxiliary Fire Station, World War II
Immediately prior to the outbreak of hostilities, in 1939, nine locations within Aberdeen were selected to be Auxiliary Fire Stations. In Torry the site was Cordiner’s Garage on Menzies Road. A number of part time Firemen were subsequently trained up and allocated to each of the Auxiliary Stations. The Auxiliary Station was issued with trailer pumps which were towed by specially adapted civilian saloon cars. Of the fires attended by the Firemen from Cordiner’s perhaps the most notable was that at Victoria Road School on 30 June 1940, which had been caused by a German incendiary bomb.

The Aberdeen Preserving Co. Ltd., South Esplanade West, Torry, Aberdeen

Menzies Road 1906 - Named after the Menzies Dynasty.  The Menzies family owned much of Nigg from about 1750. In 1875 the City acquired all the land to the east of Mansefield Road. The Menzies kept the rest and gave their name to this street.

Menzies Road - Torry bomb damage -

A resident of Torry, Lizzie Finlayson, recounts her experience of seeing a barrage balloon being struck by lightning in Torry Harbour during a storm in World War II: “It was in 1941. It wis a heavy thunderstorm it wis, and a lot of people thought it wis an air raid. It must have been between 9 and 10pm anyway, a Friday or Saturday, my husband came in, and we went to bed. The youngest 1 was in the cot. Wrapped the blankets roon him, ran him out in the thunder and lightning, to an air raid bit [shelter], and up we went, and the rain was lashing. At the bottom of the Street, there was this enormous bang, it was worse than a bomb I think and this barrage balloon – the size of it was enormous! It was just a ball of fire, and from far we was standing, we wis so close to it, and as it came doon, it gradually decreased in size, landed right doon in the middle of the Harbour, missed the boats and that, right in the middle, and the splash was enormous. Now that was a wartime experience!”

At the corner of Walker Road was a shop of A.W Scott, Fruitier, .

The new Victoria Bridge opened on 2 July 1881 at the cast of £25,000. A considerable expansion of Torry followed which also included the introduction of Trams.  Edward L J Blyth (Edinburgh), Engineer, 5-span segmental arched bridge over River Dee. Rough-faced grey granite with ashlar to piers and parapet. Rounded cutwaters with advanced piers with round arched panels above. Coped panelled parapet with decorative cast iron lamp stands to each pier

Victoria Bridge was erected following the Dee Ferry Boat Disaster, which claimed the lives of 32 people on 5 April 1857. The Ferry Boat had for centuries crossed from Pocra Quay (on the north side of the mouth of the Dee) to Torry (on the south side). A packed boat on 5 April, a Feastday, had gone down, claiming the lives of some 32 people. There had been plans for some time for a new bridge across to Torry but this disaster provided the final impetus for building one. Victoria Bridge was formally opened 2 July 1881.  It was partly funded by public contribution and partly by the Corporation of Aberdeen. The link provided by the bridge allowed direct access for carriages from Torry, via Market Street, to the heart of Aberdeen. Its opening was very timely and greatly facilitated the rapid expansion of Torry in the following years.

Old and New Torry

Torry Tram Route

The 1st Electric Tram service to Torry

Established 1904 it ran from Guild Street to St Fittick's Road with the Tram Depot at the Victoria Bridge. Eventually the Torry Line was linked up with the main network via Bridge Street, a mirror being provided on the single-track at the foot to enable the driver to see around the sharp corner to avoid any oncoming Traffic with the lead overhang.



The Torry Picture House, Crombie Road, Torry

Opened 2nd May 1921.  Renovated, 1939 and renamed Torry Cinema. Closed 24th September 1966. Converted into shops.  It was a a bit of a 'catch up if ye missed it Cinema' - re-runs of out of date films - Donald's re-cycled tired old films that had exhausted their potential on the circuit elsewhere in the City first.

As early as 1910 Torry had its own cinema. The Torry Skating Rink Syndicate used its premises on Sinclair Road, calling them Torry Picture Palace.

The 1st World War eventually ended this venture. After the War, on 2 May 1921, a new cinema was opened, the Torry Picture House on Crombie Road. This later changed its name to the Torry Cinema.

Throughout the 1920s a band played accompaniment to the films shown at the Picture House. ‘Talkies’ were introduced on 15 September 1930, with ‘The Trial of Mary Dugan’.

The Cinema closed on 24 September 1966.



The Torry and Casino cinemas were designed with a Spanish Theme. The Casino kept most of it's design to the end but the Torry Cinema having a makeover around the same time as the Grand Central and used virtually the same design and colour scheme. They were very contemporary designs and changed or hid much of the original inside fittings. 

Crombie Road Sawmill
30th June, 1940 - Many Incendiary bombs fall on the Torry district of town - the Fiddes Woodyard on Crombie Road is recorded as being hit by "few" incendiary bombs. Victoria Road School is burned out completely, and Lookout Post 2 on the roof of the school is destroyed. The attack begins at 11:45 PM, and the All Clear is signalled at 1:20 AM on the morning of the 1st of July.

Sinclair Road Box Fabrication Works.  Mr Alfred Cordiner, from the local well known family of timber merchants and garage owners, lived at Norwood Hall. Pitfoddels built in 1881 on the former site of Pittfodels Castle Cordiner's started life in 1870 as a small boat building business in Aberdeen.  Today, over 135 years and 5 generations later, their Timber Business in Sinclair Road is still run by the Cordiner family.  









Tullos House
David Morrice, successful Advocate of Aberdeen, who had built up a large fortune, in part by representing bodies such as the Town council, acquired several plots on Tullos Hill and the surrounding area in 1786. He had Tullos House built for himself, probably completing it before 1810. It was demolished in the period following the 2nd World War, to make way for industrial development.  There were no trees on the feu when Morrice took possession of it: however he embarked on a policy of planting on Tullos Hill. He planted Scots pine, larch, oak, alder, birch, mountain ash and elm. The plantation failed on the seaward side as well as on the summit.  Yet in an article written for the Aberdeen Journal in 1896 it was said that this plantation was largely still there, and was described as ‘luxuriant’. However as to the extent of the growth and the paths, it was also written that they were ‘somewhat tortuous and scarcely perceptible footpaths – faint trails they might be called, which were difficult to follow.

'David Morrlce'. baptised at Aberdeen In October, 1789, was brief to the Law in his native place, and was, in 1776, admitted Advocate in Aberdeen, under the designation of "David Morrice, Jr,'  to differentiate him from his cousin, David Morice, afterwards of Tullos, who, some 12 years before 1776, had been admitted a member uf the same legal fraternity. These 2 related limbs of the law were, however, better known by the familiar appellations of Muckle Davie and Little Davie" Morrice. David Morrice, Jr, was for several years a Clerk, (along with Mr. Thomas Duncan, Advocate), of the Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen; where he is recorded to have engaged In business, as a Merchant and Dealer in Victuals, with unlucky results. In after years when advancing in age and retrograding in worldly circumstances, Little Davie Morice, the brother of Mrs Abercrombie. took up his abode at the Manse of Kincardine O'Neil with his cousin, the Reverend William Morrice. Minister of that Parish, and died there, unmarried, about, or prior to 1810 Muokle Davie Morrice was apparently a very different character from his cousin and namesake;- if not exactly ‘a real wit.’  David Morioe, Sr, seems lo have been possessed of a considerable fund of humour, with perception to comprehend, and sense to enjoy, a joke even when he was himself the subject of  it; as the following anecdote, which he was, it is said, ever ready to relate:-

Although somewhat taller in person than his kinsman David Morrice, Jr, the stature of even "Muckle Davie" was the reverse of gigantic. It was, some many vears ago, the habit of the citizens of Bon-accord to take a daily walk, before their then customary dinner hour, on the " Plainstones," a considerable space of ground, paved with smooth flagstones, raised a foot or more above the level of Castle Street, in front of the Town House of Aberdeen. The promenade thus resorted to become also, the convenient place for the Citizens being readily met with by strangers resorting to the Town.  On a certain Friday - then and still the weekly market day in Aberdeen,- a farmer who had some business to transact with "Muckle Davie," having missed him at his own place of business, had gone to the Castlegate in quest of Sheriff Morrice.  Not being acquainted with the personal appearance of the same,  The rustic addressed the first gentleman he encountered on the Plainstones, with the query, "Can ye tell me. Sir, which is Muckle Davie.  Morrice replied ‘That I can easily do, my friend," was the response, "for I am myself the man."  The Sherriff's interlocutor, scanning with a look of aroused wonder at he brevity of stature of the person to whom he had addressed himself and slowly replied 'By my troth, Sir! - if ye be Muokle Davie Morrice,  ! would just like to see Little Davie. "


Kincorth - From at least 1510 there was a Mill serving the farmers. In that year the Mill was leased to Walter Sinclair, and his son Robert, along with salmon fishing rights and half the revenue from the Ferry over the Dee in return for 35 shillings 8 pence and 16 barrels of salmon yearly. From 1527 there was an ‘aylhous’, with a brewery, in Kincorth as well. All of these features point to a developing, thirsty and prosperous settlement!

Kincorth Farm - In 1891 the then farmer Mr Forrest paid rent to the Bakers' Trade Guild. His last will and testament exists dated 1881. In 1813 an Alex Forrest, in Kincorth, appears as a regular witness in several Public records.   He may have been a Church Elder or literate local employer and community representative who lived at Kincorth Farm with his family. 

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Last modified: 01/09/2013