Peterhead in old picture postcards

Peterhead in old picture postcards

:   Jim Buchan
:   Aberdeenshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5503-8
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Peterhead in old picture postcards'

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Peterhead, the most easterly town on the Scottish mainland, is in the Banff and Buchan District of Grampian Region, about 33 miles north-east of Aberdeen and just south of the mouth of the River Ugie. Recent archaeological excavations of flint 'mines' to the south of the town have highlighted the importance of the area in pre-historie times. A Celtic church is said to have been established, in the 8th century, near the Kirk Bum where, in 1132, a church dedicated to St. Peter was endowed with lands to the sea-ward side of present-day Balmoor Terrace. Tbe long ecclesiastical association witb St. Peter bas been said to account for the name of the town but, altematively, it may have been derived from 'Pett-ayruisge' , meaning 'the homestead by the water'.

On 29th July 1587, 'Keith Inch alias Peterhead' was erected into a Burgh of Barony in favour of George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, who, with castles at Dunnottar (near Stonehaven), Inverugie (near Peterbead) and elsewbere, was one of the powerful nobles in the country, whose land-holdings increased still furtber in the aftermath of the Scottish Reformation. On 1st June 1593, he granted a Feu Charter by which feus in the Kirktown and along the line of the Longate - from the east end of Broad Street to nortb of Brook Lane - were allocated to the original fourteen feu-holders in tbe town.

Tbe Keitbs continued as Superiors of tbe town until tbe IOtb and last Earl Mariscbal was declared forfeit after be had played a leading role in the unsuccessful Jacobite Rebellion in 1715. His estates were confiscated and sold to tbe York Buildings Company. When it became bankrupt, tbe Governors of tbe Mercbant Maiden Hospital in Edinburgb purchased the town and barbours of Peterbead in 1728; the Edinburgb Merchant Company bas retained the Superiority of tbe town ever since.

Soon after purchasing tbeir 'Peterhead Estates', tbe Governors of the Mercbant Maiden Hospital sent representatives to inspeet tbeir new acquisition. Tbis first 'deputation' from Edinburgb took two days to reacb Stonebaven and, after attending to business there and in Aberdeen, anotber four days before arriving in Peterbead. Some of tbe Governors were slow to appreciate the potentialof the town as a souree of income and tbe next deputation was delayed unti11768! It made recommendations regarding tbe enlargement of tbe town and, in 1776, a local factor was appointed to administer tbe Estates. As tbe town expanded, more ground was made available for feuing - in 1811, for example, it was decided to layout two new streets, Queen Street and St. Peter Street. Tbereafter tbe Merchant Company's deputations took a keen interest in the pbysical development of tbe town; streets were planned on a rectilinear pattern and proposals for house-building were scrutinised witb a view to maintaining standards and preserving amenities.

Tbe 5tb Earl Marischal had built two small piers, one on the Keitb Inch and tbe other at Port Henry. Peterbead Harbour was developed from these by a series of improving projects, some of wbich involved engineers sucb as Smeaton, Rennie, Telford, and tbe Stevensons. From 1807, wben tbey were establisbed by Act of Parliament witb responsibility for tbe management of Peterbead Harbour, tbe Harbour Trustees played a leading role in these developments. By tbe beginning of the 20tb century, tbe Soutb, Nortb, and Port Henry Harbours togetber comprised 21 acres of sbeltered water and 3,500 yards of quays. For a time in the 19th century, Peterhead was tbe leading whaling port in Scotland and tben it became an important centre for the summer berring fishing in 1891,2,713 curers, coopers, and gutters were employed in

Peterhead and Buchanhaven. The programme of harbour improvements continued in the 20th century for mercantile traffic as weil as commercial fishing. After herring fishing stopped for a time, Peterhead became, and still is, the leading white fish port in Europe.

The town's importance as a base for maritime activities was enhanced by the Harbour of Refuge, which was built between the 1880's and 1950's and is now a significant oil service base for North Sea operations.

Peterhead was the leading ship-building port in north-east Scotland from 1810 until 1860, but the industry declined thereafter and is now defunct. The granite industry - with extraction from many quarries in the area, and cutting and polishing in several ornamental works - also declined after flourishing in the 19th century. Attempts to establish textile industries in the 18th and 19th centuries were mostly unsuccessful but the Kirkburn Woollen Mills are still thriving, although manufacture of cotton and linen was abandoned by 1820.

The town was a fashionable spa in the 18th century. When they built Keith Lodge, in 1759, the Free Masons provided a pump-room for visitors 'taking the waters' from the neighbouring 'Wine Weil', opposite the south end of Jamaica Street. The medicinal properties of the weil were discovered in 1592, but it began to run dry in 1804 and Peterhead's 'spa season' disappeared from the social calendar of the gentry soon after.

The 5th Earl Marischal's Burgh of Barony had a schooImaster for a time, at least, but provision for education continued to be largely fortuitous for a long time. The estimated attendance at schools in the town in 1815 was 250; 2,435 were enrolled in town schools in 1896, iIIustrating one aspect, at least,

of the effects of the Education Act of 1872 and the subsequent establishment of the Burgh School Board.

The Burgh population has been estimated to have been in excess of 200 at the beginning of the 17th century; in 1902, it numbered 11,763, while 1,911 lived in the Landward Area; and by 1930, there were 12,800 in the Burgh and 1,800 in the Landward Area.

The cards reproduced in this book were orignially printed in Scotland, England, Saxony, or Hessen. Some were produced by local photographers - J. Shivas and Son, Grant, Foubister, Hutcheon, and the Peterhead Studio, for exampIe; others were published by local stationers - W.L. Taylor, H.E. Mabin, John Miliar and G. Williamson; and the wellknown 'giants' of the postcard world - Valentines, Tuck, Wrench, Reliable, 'Ja Ja', Milton, Holmes, and George Washington Wilson - are also represented.

I wish to acknowledge the help I have received from many people - too numerous for all to be named here - when cornpiling this book. Some have lent cards, others have supplied me with information. The co-operation of the North East Scotland Museums Service, and in particular of the Curator, Ms. Jocelyn Chamberlain-Mole, and the staff in Peterhead, has been invaluable. So too has the assistance of Mr. Gerald Moore, Chief Librarian of the North East Scotland Library Service, and the staff in Oldmeldrum. Members of the staff in Peterhead Public Library have been most helpful during my search for local background information. I am also grateful to Miss Heather Bicocchi for her help in the preparation of the typescript.

1. Coat of arms. The coat of arms on this card, posted in 1905, and on other cards in this book, are representations of the arms of the Keiths, Earls Marischal of Scotland. Peterhead was created a Burgh of Barony in 1587, in favour of George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal. The Earls Marischal were Superiors of the Burgh from then until the Jacobite Earl was declared forfeit after the defeat of the Old Pretender . In later years the Burgh continued to use the Earl's escutcheon on its seal and, iIlegally, as its coat of arms. In November 1929, in response to a nationwide campaign by the Court of the Lord Lyon to correct irregularities in the heraldry of Scotland, Peterhead matriculated its own arrns, which are those of the Earls Marischal, with some alterations in colouring appropriate for a seaport in the Buchan area.

Inverugie Castlé, neer Peterhead

2. lnverugie Castle. This castle, the ruins of which stand to the north of Peterhead, was the main stronghold in the Buchan area of the Keith Family, Earls Marischal of Scotland. As Superiors of Peterhead, they inf1uenced the development of the Burgh until the early years of the 18th century. The üld Pretender landed at Peterhead and visited Inverugie Castle en route to join his supporters in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715. It failed and the estates of the Earl Marischal, a prominent Jacobite, were confiscated by the Crown. Peterhead was sold to the York Buildings Company, which collapsed in 1726. In 1728, the present Superiors, the Edinburgh Merchant Company, began their association with the area when the Governors of the Merchant Maiden Hospital in Edinburgh purchased the town and harbours ofPeterhead.

3. Peterhead, 1837. This card, posted in 1905, was copied by alocal photographer from a coloured print of Peterhead and the area to the south. Poor agricultural ground and small thatched houses occupy the foreground. The area behind this was quarried extensively for granite in later years. Buchan Ness and the village of Boddam are on the right, i.e. east. On the left is another fishing village, Burnhaven, which was razed during developments associated with the exploitation of North Sea Oil and Gas and the building of Peterhead Power Station in the 1970's and 1980's. Beyond the South Bay, the spires of the Parish Church, on the left, and the Town House stand out on the sky line. At the eastern end, on the Keith Inch, stands a windmill which was blown up, about 1850, to provide stones for re-building elsewhere in the town.

4. Boddam Lighthouse. When the Northern Lighthouse Board built a lighthouse about two miles from Peterhead in the 1820's, Robert Stevenson was their engineer. (His grandson was R.L. Stevenson, the writer.) Local fishermen were still al!owed to pul! up boats on the shore and to dry fish on the rocks of the smal! island, known as the Yards of Boddam, after it was purchased as a site. The lantern on Buchan Ness, as it came to be called, stood 130 feet above the high water mark; could be seen at sea for 16 nautical miles; and flashed every five seconds. (The King of the Netherlands presented Stevenson with a gold medal in recognition of his inventing the flashing light system.) Before 1904, when a fog-horn was installed, local people beat tin basins with spoons to wam boats of the rocks during foggy weather.

5. Peterhead [rom the old brickwork. All traces of the brickworks have been obliterated by alterations at the foreshore near The Lido. In its heyday, early in the 19th century, it produced about 250,000 bricks and tiles annually and had its own jetty in the South Bay. lts ti/es were said to be as good as Dutch pantiles and the pipes used for the water supply in Fraserburgh were made here. A guide-book, published in 1900, after the works had cIosed, commented on the 'picturesque panorama of the peninsular town' to describe which 'would be to tax the language of panegyric to a degree'. 'To live in Peterhead,' it said, 'is almost the same as to live on board ship, with all the benefits of the salubrious sea breezes and none of the inconveniences too commonly experienced on board in the German Ocean. '

The Beach,


6. The beach. After reminding visitors that Peterhead had been a fashionable spa in the 18th century, a guide-book claimed in 1900; 'The visitor to Peterhead cannot fail to be enamoured of its exquisite situation and refreshed and invigorated by its pure saline atmosphere.' It advised the tourist to 'descend to the beach by the old lane formerly used in conneetion with the brickworks ... The visitor as he follows the bend of the bay, comes to a Iovely stretch of beach, and here in fine weather he will be struck with the robust, healthy appearance of the children at play on the sands ... With the invigorating air full of the purest ozone fresh from nature's own primeval springs, the visitor must be dull indeed who is not charmed with Peterhead as a health resort. '

7. The prison. Members of the Edinburgh Merchant Company, as Superiors of Peterhead (sec No. 2) were involved in the discussions leading to the establishment of the prison. When some of the company visited the recently-opened institution in August 1888, there were about 150 convicts working on extensions to the building, which, they were told, was intended to house 640 when finished. Completed in 1891, as the only male penal prison in Scotland, the highest average daily number of convicts in custody for any year was 446 in 1911. The prison was located at Peterhead after the Government decided to establish a national Harbour of Refuge in the South Bay and to use convict labour during the construction of the breakwaters (see Nos. 8 and 9).

8. Breakwater, 1905. The Harbour of Refuge was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1886. The Government chose the South Bay because 'it is situated mid-way between the Firths of Forth and Cromarty. The coast on either side of it is of an exposed and dangerous character; it is the centre of the great fishing industry on the east coast; it is so formed by nature as to afford all the physical advantages of ample space, depth of water and anchorage of the best description; and it is in the vicinity of extensive granite quarries from which inexhaustible supplies of material can be obtained for the construction of the works'. The Adrniralty Yard, on the right behind the prison buildings, became the centre of operations, starting with the formation of a breakwater from Salthousehead into the South Bay.

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