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Incorporated Trades The Harbour Bricks,Tiles & Pottery Distillers Brewers Soft Drinks Trade The Co-op Shipbuilding Fishing Agriculture Iron Founders Granite Industry Soap & Candles Coal Gas Supply Electricity Supply Comb Works Paper Mills Newspapers Textiles Railway History Aberdeen Laundries

Industry & Commerce in Aberdeen

Aberdeen was perhaps at its most important, relative to the rest of the world, and as a centre of trade and learning, in the early decades of the 17th century. The population of the two burghs approached 10,000 in the 1630s; about 8,500 in New Aberdeen and 1,000 in Old Aberdeen. The Burgh maintained close links with the seaports of the Hanseatic League, of which Aberdeen was an early member, and their hinterlands of the Low Countries, Poland, Russia, the Baltic states and Scandinavia. Aberdeen was more open to European influences, to new ideas from the Continent, and was more diverse in its political and religious thinking, than were either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Seven Iron Foundries and many Engineering works employ 1000 men, at £925 weekly wages, and convert 6000 tons of iron a year into marine and land steam engines and boilers, corn mills, wood-preparing machinery, machinery to grind and prepare artificial manures, besides sugar mills and frames and coffee machinery for the colonies.

The Sandilands Chemical Works, begun in 1848, cover 5 acres, and employ over 100 men and boys, at £90 to £100 weekly wages. Here are prepared naphtha, benzole, creosote oil, pitch, asphalt, sulphate of ammonia, sulphuric acid, artificial manures. Paraffin Wax and ozokerite are refined. An Artesian Well within the works, 421 feet deep, gives a constant supply of good water, always at 51º Fahr.

Tinny Robertson's

John 'Tinny' Robertson's - Tinsmith & Can Manufacturer, Park Road Works, was housed in a large granite building, built c.1860 in Duff Street at the Northern corner adjacent to Park Street, which runs, from the bottom end of Justice Street through to join Golf Road just before reaching Pittodrie Stadium

Before his death at the age of 71 in 1935, John Robertson, (b.1864) a native Aberdonian served his time as a Tinsmith in the Netherkirkgate before moving to London. After returning to Aberdeen in 1895, he set up his business which eventually flourished in the company premises in Duff Street During the Great War 1914-18 his business had to be extended and he, employed 100s of workers.  John Robertson had always shown a keen interest in football and during his time in London he became one of the founder members of Millwall FC.   He joined the Aberdeen FC Board in 1914 and was appointed Chairman on July 29th 1930. During his spell at Pittodrie he was responsible for fostering football in the area, especially in the minor grades, much of his work was little known to the public. He was also heavily involved in the various ground improvements which helped shape Pittodrie as we know today.  He died at the age of 71 in 1935.  The family association with the Dons continues with Clarke Robertson. A Graham Charles was claimed as being the Managing Director of the firm.

James Legg, Tinsmith, 45, Netherkirkgate c.1845
Hugh Imlay,  & Co., 
Envelope Manufacturers and Wholesale Stationers. Park Road Works, Duff Street. c.1912

This Duff Street  site comprises disused industrial buildings of early 19th C. origin together with associated external yard space. The main part of the site, at the corner with Park Street, was also used as an envelope factory by Hugh Imlay & Co. It was accessed from Duff Street. It contains granite buildings of traditional form and construction with finely detailed Aberdeen bonded dressed granite frontages onto Duff Street and Park Street. This building is 2 storey in height and has a slate clad pitched roof. The eastern part of the site is occupied by a vacant granite works, which has a single storey building and has a separate access from Duff Street.  Although the site itself is relatively flat, there is a significant change in level along Park Street as it rises up to the bridge over the railway line.

Of several Provision-curing Works, the largest employs 300 hands, chiefly females, in preserving meats, soups, sauces, jams, jellies, pickles, &c., and has in connection with it, near the City, above 230 acres of fruit, vegetable, and farm ground, and a large Piggery.

The products of the Beweries and Distilleries are mostly consumed Locally.

A large Agricultural implement work employs 70 or 80 men and boys. Nearly 200 acres of ground, within 3 miles of the City, are laid out in rearing shrub and forest-tree seedlings. In 1872 about 145 acres of strawberries were reared within 3 miles of Aberdeen at Persley Den, and 80 tons of this fruit are said to have been exported.

Textiles, Fishing, Shipbuilding, Iron Foundry, Granite, Livestock, Paper, Oil

Inc Trades - Trinity Hall, Holburn Street Aberdeen AB10 6DA

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Last modified: 01/09/2013