Posted by: christinelaennec | February 16, 2015

Byways and back streets of Aberdeen

Michael and I went on a little walk when we were in Aberdeen, through many of the lesser-known streets in the city centre.  Some of this route used to be my walk to work when we lived there, and I have to say it was so nice to go back again.

To begin with, I always found this house name amusing:  “Vulcanvale”.  Is/was the person who named the house a Star Trek fan?  The other thing that I like is the juxtaposition of the name with the sign, with its curly metalwork and Scottish thistle.  I presume that the sign was handmade some years ago:

A house called "Vulcanvale".  Aberdeen.

A house called “Vulcanvale”. Aberdeen.

The photo below shows how the city centre was once a semi-rural area.  You can see a former barn or byre, with its green doors.  I don’t think this building was quite as grand as to be a carriage house.  It has lost the bar extending out from the flat roof of the top door, which you sometimes see on such buildings in Aberdeen.  The bar held a pulley, to hoist up hay or other goods.  You can just see, above the black sliding door, a former brick arch.  I expect that this large door was arched to accommodate a horse and wagon.  Next to the byre is an old cottage, whose top floor was extended in about the 1970s.  There are narrow lanes running up through these buildings.

A former barn or byre, Springbank Terrace, Aberdeen.

A former barn or byre, Springbank Street, Aberdeen.

This one, Springbank Place, has gates to houses on the left, and on the right, what I assume was once an shrine built into a wall:

Springbank Place, Aberdeen.

Springbank Place, Aberdeen.

A shrine in the old wall?  Springbank Place, Aberdeen.

A shrine in the old wall? Springbank Place, Aberdeen.

At the top of Springbank Place is a fine house:

A rather grand house at the end of Springbank Terrace, Aberdeen.

House at the end of Springbank Terrace, Aberdeen.

I imagine it would have been the residence of a wealthy merchant at one time.  And no doubt it is now the residence of quite a wealthy person, as detached houses with gardens in the centre of town don’t come cheap!

Turning up into Dee Street, I’ve always enjoyed this grand portico on what seems otherwise to be a rather ordinary building.  Notice the house set back behind a long front garden next door:

A grand porch on Dee Street, Aberdeen.

A grand porch on Dee Street, Aberdeen.

I’ve always wondered about the history of this large building, Seabank House on Dee Street.  I like the cast iron decoration on the roof, and the balustrades:

Seabank?? House?  Dee Street, Aberdeen.

Seabank House, Dee Street, Aberdeen.

I think Seabank House is now a care home.

Here is another house that was no doubt grand when it was first built:

A once-grand house, perhaps belonging to a merchant, whose garden is now a car park.  Dee Street, Aberdeen.

A once-grand house, perhaps belonging to a merchant, whose garden is now a car park. Dee Street, Aberdeen.

I believe this house is now an office building.  It’s not too hard to imagine a beautiful front garden where the car park is now.  Do you see how tall the chimneys are?  This was to keep the smoke as far up above street level as possible.  In the days of coal fires and “pea-souper” fogs, that would have been an important consideration.

Continuing up Dee Street, we pass the back of the Crown Street Post Office:

The back of the Crown Street Post Office, built in 1904?.  Scottish baronial style?  Dee Street, Aberdeen.

The back of the Crown Street Post Office, built in 1907, Dee Street, Aberdeen.

The Crown Street Post Office is a very large building (with its front door on Crown Street, the next street over).  The style of architecture is Scottish baronial.  When we first moved to Aberdeen, it was still a post office, and I always enjoyed going there to mail a parcel.  The Royal Mail moved to more modern facilities some time ago, and the building was made into flats.  You can read more about it in this post by Doric Columns.

We have nearly reached Union Street.  First we cross a narrow street called Langstane Place (pronounced “Langston”).

Coming to the top of Dee Street, at Langstane Place.  The Music Hall on Union Street is half-visible.

Coming to the top of Dee Street, at Langstane Place. The Music Hall on Union Street is half-visible.

Langstane Place takes its name from the Lang Stane (the long stone):

The Lang Stane, on Langstane Place, Aberdeen.

The Lang Stane, on Langstane Place, Aberdeen.

There seems to be some mystery surrounding the Lang Stane.  According to Wikipedia, it may originally have been part of a stone circle, and later used as a boundary marker.  It does certainly look like the stones one sees in the many standing stone circles in the North-East of Scotland.

A few steps beyond the Lang Stane and we have arrived at Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare, Union Street.  And what greets us, where Dee Street joins Union Street, is the beautiful granite Music Hall:

Turning onto Union Street from Dee Street:  the Music Hall.

Turning onto Union Street from Dee Street: the Music Hall.  The Town House further down is having some work done on its tower.

Designed by Archibald Simpson, it was built in 1859 and is still a Music Hall (in the sense of being a concert venue, not as in vaudeville).  One of the things I like about the Music Hall is that the columned porch, with steps leading down, extends out over most of the pavement / sidewalk.  When walking past the Music Hall, I like to go up the stairs and through the porch rather than along the steps or in the small space besides the steps.  It’s just a quirky thing, and maybe the porch is a nuisance to some people, but to my childlike mind, it’s a chance for a little bit of fun.

My Old Farmer’s Almanac tells me that today “Winter’s Back Breaks”.  And indeed this morning in Glasgow it is sunny and mild, almost springlike.  Happy start of the week to you!

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Responses

  1. I enjoyed that little wander through Aberdeen, thank you. The little lane reminded me of the walks I enjoyed in the Rosemount area where there lots of unexpected lanes like that. I didn’t know about the Lang Stane, and that little shrine is most interesting.

  2. I really enjoyed my stroll along with you, it has left me wanting more. A happy start of the week to you too.

  3. Loved the photos. I regularly attend a luncheon with some old colleagues at an hotel in Crown Street and I make a point of making my way there via many of the small back streets and lanes. The wealth of interesting old features, still evident in that area (such as recessed boot scrapers in doorways) never ceases to amaze me.

    • Yes, the bootscrapers on Bon-Accord Street! I must do a wee post about them sometime. And grander houses have stand-alone bootscrapers, but I don’t think I have photos of those…

  4. As a long-exiled Aberdonian living in England, I so enjoy these glimpses of my much-loved childhood city. Every building or street triggers a memory, sometimes a fleeting half-memory, of long-gone family members and of places imprinted in my conscious. Thanks for this gift – it brightens my day!

  5. Really enjoyed the walk!

  6. I miss this type of architecture so much! Loved all your photos! So glad you were able to take a trip back up to Aberdeen!! Catching up on a few posts….

  7. I loved this. You are so good at noticing details, and understanding how a building works! It made me feel very nostalgic.

  8. I so enjoyed this tour of Aberdeen and seeing the old, historic homes. I’ve only had the honor of visiting the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I would love to live in a country with so much beauty and history.

  9. Thank you everyone for joining us on our walk, and for your comments. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. I must tell our son about your blog. He likes to correspond with Tina (formerly The Quiet Home) and asks her many questions about Scotland. He even learned to play the bagpipes.
    You give so many interesting details in your posts!

    • It astonishes me how many Americans, or Scottish-Americans, feel a strong attachment to Scotland and Scottish culture. I’m very impressed that your son learned to play the bagpipes, it’s not at all easy. Perhaps some day he will come to Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championships! There are always lots of North Americans there, and folks from all around the world. Very stirring.


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