Architecture of Aberdeen


Architecture of Aberdeen

Architecture of Aberdeen is known for its principal use of granite in Victorian times. The stone has given Aberdeen the names by locals of the "Granite City" or more romantically the less commonly used name the "Silver City", since the quartz in the stone sparkles in the sun.

The hard grey stone is one of the most durable materials available and helps to explain why the cities buildings look brand-new when they have been newly cleaned and the cement has been pointed. Unlike other Scottish cities where sandstone has been used the buildings are not weathering and need very little structural maintenance on their masonry.

Union Street

Union Street runs for nearly a mile (1.5 km), is 70 ft (21 m) wide, and originally contained the principal shops and most of the public buildings, all of granite. Part of the street crosses the Denburn ravine (utilised for the line of the Great North of Scotland Railway) by Union Bridge, a fine granite arch of 132 ft (40 m) span, with portions of the older town still fringing the gorge, 50 feet (15 m) below the level of Union Street. Union Street was built from 1801 to 1805, and named after the 1800 Act of Union with Ireland.

Amongst the notable buildings in the street are the Town and County Bank, the Music Hall, the Trinity Hall of the incorporated trades (originating between 1398 and 1527), now a shopping mall; the Palace Hotel; the former office of the Northern Assurance Company, and the National Bank of Scotland.

In Castle Street, a continuation eastwards of Union Street, is the Town House, the headquarters of the city council. One of the most splendid granite edifices in Scotland, in the Franco-Scottish Gothic style, it contains the great hall, with an open timber ceiling and oak-panelled walls; the Sheriff Court House; the Town and County Hall, with portraits of Prince Albert, the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, various Lord Provosts and other distinguished citizens. In the vestibule of the entrance corridor stands a suit of black armour, believed to have been worn by Provost Sir Robert Davidson, who fought in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. On the south-western corner is the 210 ft (64 m) grand tower, which commands a fine view of the city and surrounding country. Adjoining the Town House is the old North of Scotland Bank building, in Greek Revival style. This building is now a pub named the Archibald Simpson, after its original architect. On the opposite side of the street is the fine building of the Union Bank, redeveloped in 2005 as the High Court. The third permanent high court to sit in Scotland.

Castlegate

At the upper end of Castlegate stands The Salvation Army Citadel, an effective castellated mansion, on the site of the medieval Aberdeen Castle. In front of it is the Mercat Cross, built in 1686 by John Montgomery, a native architect. This open-arched structure, 21 ft (6 m) in diameter and 18 ft (5 m) high, comprises a large hexagonal base from the centre of which rises a shaft with a Corinthian capital, on which is the royal unicorn. The base is highly decorated, including medallions illustrating Scottish monarchs from James I to James VII. To the east of Castle Street were the military barracks, which were demolished in 1965 and replaced with two tower blocks.

Marischal College

Marischal College on Broad Street, opened by King Edward VII in 1906, is the second largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial, Madrid), and is one of the most splendid examples of Edwardian architecture in Britain. The architect, Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, a native of Aberdeen, adapted his material, white granite, to the design of the building with the originality of genius. This magnificent building is no longer a seat of learning and is under renovation as the new home of Aberdeen City Council.

Religious Buildings

Kirk of St Nicholas

Kirk of St Nicholas , one of Scotland's largest parish churches and is subdivided into East and West churches. The large kirkyard of the Kirk of St Nicholas is separated from Union Street by a 147 ft (45 m) long Ionic facade, built in 1830. The divided church within, with a central tower and spire, forms one continuous building 220 ft (67 m) in length.

t Machar's Cathedral

St Machar's Cathedral built in the 12th century, a few hundred yards from the river Don took centuries to build with the exception of the period of the episcopate of William Elphinstone (1484-1511). Gavin Dunbar, who followed him in 1518, completed the structure by adding the two western spires and the southern transept. With high vaulted ceilings and a large church yard, you can see the remains of old parts of the church which are now ruin. Large columns supporting the ceiling arches tower from floor to ceiling on the north and south sides of the main section of the church.

Bridges

Bridge of Dee

The Bridge of Dee was until 1832, the only access to the city from the south across the river Dee. It consists of seven semicircular ribbed arches, is about 30 ft (10 m) high, and was built early in the 16th century by Bishops Elphinstone and Dunbar. It was nearly all rebuilt 1718-23, and in 1842 was widened from 14 to 26 ft (4 to 8 m). This was the site of a battle in 1639 between the Royalists under Viscount Aboyne and the Covenanters who were led by the Marquis of Montrose.

t. Devenick's Bridge

St. Devenick's Bridge, (locally known as the "Shakkin Briggie", or as "Morison's Bridge") is a suspension bridge crossing the River Dee from Ardoe to Cults, built in 1837 and now derelict. The bridge is a Category A listed structure and there are plans to restore it.

Wellington Bridge

Wellington Suspension Bridge is a very narrow river Dee crossing. It was designed by Captain Samuel Brown and opened in 1831 to replace the Craiglug ferry. Refurbished in 1930, the Category A listed building was closed to vehicular traffic in 1984 and to pedestrians in March 2002. Aberdeen City Council engineers have plans to strengthen and preserve the bridge to reopen it as a public footbridge. [cite web| url=http://news.scotsman.com/aberdeen.cfm?id=1278002006| title=175-year-old bridge to get new lease of life| author=Frank Urquhart| accessdate=30 August| accessyear=2006] [cite web|url=http://beehive.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/default.asp?WCI=SiteHome&ID=2311&PageID=24001|title=Wellington Suspension Bridge|accessdate=30 August| accessyear=2006]

Bridge of Don

The Bridge of Don crosses river Don and has five granite arches, each 75 ft (23 m) in span, and was built 1827-1832.

Brig o' Balgownie

The Brig o' Balgownie is a picturesque single arch spanning the deep black stream, said to have been built by King Robert I, and celebrated by George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron in the tenth canto of "Don Juan".

tatues

William Wallace

William Wallace's colossal bronze statue (by W. Grant Stevenson) which by far the cities most famous and located adjacent to Union Terrace Gardens and opposite His Majesty's Theatre.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns's bronze statue (by Henry Bainsmith) on Union Terrace.

Albert, Price Consort

Albert, Prince Consort's bronze statue of him seated opposite the Central Library (by Carlo Marochetti).

ir James McGrigor

Sir James McGrigor (1778-1851) is celebrated with a 70 ft (21 m) high obelisk of Peterhead granite, originally erected in the square of Marischal College, in memory of the military surgeon and director-general of the Army Medical Department, who was thrice elected Rector of the College. In the 1890s when the College was extended, the obelisk was moved to Duthie Park.

General Charles George Gordon

General Charles George Gordon's bronze statue, by T. Stuart Burnett stands In front of Robert Gordon's College.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria's bronze statue 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 by Alexander Brodie (removed to the Town House in 1888) but was moved to its present location in 1964.

General Gordon

George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon's granite statue, by Thomas Campbell, stands in Golden Square and was moved from the Castlegate in 1952.

Lord Byron

Lord Byron's bronze statue, by Pittendrigh Macgillivray stands in grounds of Aberdeen Grammar School in front of the original main entrance.

Footnotes


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