Posted by: christinelaennec | November 13, 2010

Upperkirkgate and Schoolhill

This street (with several names) is one that anyone who knows Aberdeen will be very familiar with, and I thought I’d share it with you.  When we go past places day after day, it’s easy not to see them, and to ignore whatever charms they may have.  Our wee walk takes us from East to West.

Upper Kirkgate, Aberdeen city centre.

To the left of the photo, where you can almost make out a few trees past the red light, is the back wall of St. Nicholas Kirk (and kirkyard).  There is a gate leading into the kirkyard, and it must be this gate that gives the street its name.  People are crossing the street to go from one shopping centre to another.  The entrance to the Bon Accord shopping centre, where the white overhang is on the right, used to be St. Nicholas Street.  So the building with the turret once stood at the street corner.  Moving further along:

Upper Kirkgate merging into Schoolhill

Upper Kirkgate becomes Schoolhill when you reach the end of the trees at the left of the photo, as that is the corner of the kirkyard.  I don’t know exactly which school Schoolhill is named after, as there were two schools there until 1970.  One of them was Aberdeen Academy, the large domed building on the left (now a shopping centre).  There’s another fine turret on the building on the right.  These flats are not particularly prized at the moment.  From the stuffed character dangling in the turret window I would say a lot of them are student digs.  As we follow the curve of the street, we see:


Although these buildings are not hot property at the moment, really their architectural detail is very fine.  I especially like the pink granite decoration.  Behind the trees on the right, and almost just across from the former Aberdeen Academy, is another school:  Robert Gordon’s College.  This private school was founded in 1731, upon the death of Robert Gordon, a merchant who made his fortune in the Baltic.  Proceeding further west, a vista opens out:

Schoolhill: Robert Gordon's to the far right, next to the Art Gallery

This wee square is one of my favourite parts of Aberdeen.  It is graced by some venerable elm trees that were lucky enough to survive the Dutch Elm Disease scourge.  The Art Gallery has an excellent collection, and is a wonderful place to stop by in the middle of town.  At the moment, entrance is free, although Aberdeen City Council is considering all sorts of measures to balance their books – including proposals to close museums, libraries and even parks – so we’ll see what happens.  As we walk on, suddenly we come across the Denburn Valley, and realise that the street is in fact a bridge:

Looking up Rosemount Viaduct, across the Denburn Valley. Union Terrace Gardens to the left.

Just to confuse things, at this point Schoolhill becomes Rosemount Viaduct.  A road and the train tracks pass under the bridge, and Union Terrace Gardens is nestled in this city-centre pocket.  I have already written my thoughts elsewhere about the local council’s proposals for this lovely Victorian park.  Across from Union Terrace Gardens, on the right of the photo, are three buildings affectionately known as “Education, Salvation and Damnation”:  the library (furthest from view), St. Mark’s church (grey dome) and His Majesty’s Theatre (green dome).

Because I do love it very much, I leave you with a photo of Union Terrace Gardens:

Union Terrace Gardens, early November 2010

One of the things I enjoy about this blog is that I’ve begun to look at things around me with fresh eyes.  There is a lot of beauty, if you take the time to see it.



  1. I feel as though I no longer need to go to Aberdeen tomorrow as I have just been there thru your photos…you’re right, this blogging does make you see things in a new way…always a good thing, surely. I rarely look above street level when I’m in Aberdeen as I have to rush so fast thru all the shops on various idiotic errands….all of which seem very unimportant compared to looking around and actually noticing what is really going on!!!

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