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Kenneth McKellar - A Scottish Journey - The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen


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Mariners of Aberdeen and Northern Scotland
Mariners of Aberdeen and Northern Scotland, 1600-1800

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Aberdeen By
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Aberdeen is Scotland’s third-largest city, on the east
coast, fifty seven miles northeast of Dundee, between the mouths of the Rivers Dee and the River Don, now the main administrative and commercial centre of northeast Scotland. Formerly a royal burgh, county of city, and county town of Aberdeenshire, in 1975 the City of Aberdeen became a district of Grampian Region, and also its headquarters.

By the 13th century Aberdeen was an important trade and fishing centre. It developed into a major commercial port and in the 19th century shipbuilding was an important part of the economy. The decline in these industries in the middle of the 20th century was offset by the discovery of North Sea oil in the late 1960s when the city became the major centre for servicing the offshore oil fields. The busy harbour also has the terminal for the ferry service to Shetland. In the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, its long beach made it a popular holiday resort.

The city had an extensive trade in finished granite, which
was also used for many of the buildings, giving it the nickname ‘Granite City’. Other important industries were cotton, linen, engineering, comb-making and paper-making. The centre of the city is built largely on a series of road viaducts spanning the deep valleys of minor watercourses. Its main street, Union Street is a remarkable piece of urban planning soaring over the old town. The Assembly Rooms were built by Archibald Simpson in 1820, in neo-Greek style with a massive Ionic portico; the Music Hall by James Matthews was added to the north in 1858. A granite columnar screen by John Smith fronts the St Nicholas Kirkyard, which has many interesting tombs. The St Nicholas Kirk dates from the 12th century, and was divided into two churches at the Reformation; both were later rebuilt: West St Nicholas by James Gibbs and East St Nicholas by Archibald Simpson.

Towards the northeast end of Union Street is the Town House, whose 17th century core is largely masked by a flamboyant Flemish-Gothic extension by Peddie. Nearby stands the Mercat Cross (1686), justly described by Lord Cockburn as ‘the finest of its kind in Scotland’. On Rosemount Viaduct is a trio of imposing public buildings: the Public Library by George Watt, St Mark’s Church by Marshall Mackenzie, and His Majesty’s Theatre by Frank Matcham. Mackenzie also supplied the flamboyant design for Marischal College.

Aberdeen’s many museums and art galleries include Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, in Schoolhill, designed by Marshall Mackenzie, and Aberdeen Maritime Museum, in Shiprow; the building includes the 16th century Provost Ross’s House, restored in 1954 by the National Trust for Scotland. Provost Skene’s House, now a museum, also dates from the 16th century; it later belonged to Sir George Skene, provost 1676—85. Other points of interest include the Bridge of Dee, built in the 152Os by Bishop Gavin Dunbar. Just beyond it lies the extensive Duthie Park, opened in 1883, with the David Welch Winter Gardens, the UK’s largest.

Carmelite Street, Aberdeen, Scotland. Site of the Carmelite Friary, a strange presence has been felt and the ghostly figure of a friar monk in a hooded robe has been seen.

Old Aberdeen, originally a separate burgh, now a northern
suburb, contains the medieval Bridge of Balgownie, and
the Cathedral Church of St Machar, a twin-towered granite building dating mainly from the 15th century; the nave and tower are still in use as a church and the ruined transepts are in the care of Historic Scotland. It also has the main campus of Aberdeen University. The main campus of Robert Gordon’s University is in the city centre. The city’s international airport is at Dyce, to the northwest. Aberdeen is the entertainment, leisure and cultural centre of North-East Scotland and host to a wide variety of public events.

Jack Websters AberdeenJack Webster's Aberdeen. Aberdeen has had its fair share of attention from historians down the centuries. But in this fresh look at the story, Jack Webster condenses the knowledge and wisdom of past research and focuses on the later history. He observes the city's dramatic transformation in the twentieth century, when it went from an economy based on farming, fishing, textiles and granite to an industry which outshone them all. Who could have guessed that the Granite City would take on an international reputation as the oil capital of Western Europe? The events that unfolded from the 1960s were to transform the prosperity of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland on an unprecedented scale. Jobs, housing, hotels and restaurants sprang up everywhere, and the standard of living was raised to a level unthinkable to a previous generation. Jack Webster's Aberdeen.

Aberdeen TrawlingTrawling: Celebrating the Industry That Transformed Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland Trawling. Celebrating the Industry That Transformed Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland. In 1882, the first catch from a stream trawler was landed in Aberdeen. For the following 125 years, trawling has been an integral part of the fabric of life in north-east Scotland.In Trawling, Raymond Anderson recounts the growth, importance and social history of the industry and of the towns, villages and fishing families behind the fleet.The fascinating stories of the industry in Aberdeen, Fraserburgh and Peterhead are all told: the fish markets that were the hub of the communities, the skippers who braved the North Sea to make a living in the most dangerous business in the country and the trawlers themselves from the first small steam trawlers to the modern hi-tech vessels that make up the fleet today.Illustrated throughout with remarkable archive photographs from the Press and Journal, "Trawling" brings the story of the industry completely up to date. While the collapse of fish stocks, the introduction of quotas and the decline of the fishing fleet are all covered, it is fundamentally a celebration of the extraordinary bravery, ingenuity, independence and self-reliance of the men and women who created and sustained a mighty industry that transformed north-east Scotland.

If you would like to Tour Aberdeen on a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me: Sandy Stevenson



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