Monday, 13 September 2010

The A to Z of Aberdeen - F

F is for Farms. And Farriers. And Footpaths.

All it takes is a few minutes leafing through a book like Diane Morgan's Lost Aberdeen or Winram Cluer's Walkin' The Mat to set us off imagining the psychogeography of Aberdeen before the modern era; mentally stripping away the buildings of the last century or more to reveal the vistas of hills and glens and watercourses and woods which they obscure. We find ourselves notionally erasing the newer roads and streets leaving the more ancient highways and footpaths which connected places of economic, spiritual or civic meaning to the people who inhabited the more natural topography of the times.

Of course, such imaginings themselves are part of the process of psychogeography, a process aided by the buildings which have survived longer than they might have and byways which have been bypassed, but vestigially remain for us to explore.

Old Mill Road. An ancient byway linking The Green
to the Justice Mills. Bypassed by the Hardgate!

It's surprising how much of the rural agricultural centres of the settlements which preceded Aberdeen's 19th and 20th century development remain.

Outseats Farm - at the southernmost end of the Hardgate.

Balmoral Terrace, off Broomhill Road

Cottage Brae - off Nellfield Place

Friendship Farmhouse - Ashley Road
Friendship Farm workers' cottages. Friendship Terrace

Newlands Mill - much altered.
Off the line and below the level of Newlands Crescent
The semi- or pre-industrial infrastructure which supported the rural economy is often still legible in the urban environment today, as we see above, some mills survive, but the past is most notable in the steadings, stables and farriers which have survived by morphing into motor-trade infrastructure and enterprises. We can imagine it happening - early 20th Century, as the horse is being shod, the farrier is asked by the footman: "Can you get some of that petroleum essence for the master's new-fangled horseless carriage - we've no idea who else to ask." Over time, more and more of the farriers' business was looking after motorcars: fewer horses, more cars. At some point, the day came when there were no horses left in the city at all, but the farriers' business continued on the same site.

The function of this stable has remained, um, stable

Bruce Motors, Hardgate.

Salisbury Terrace - this farrier's premises is still doing the same job as ever;
looking after your transport.

Blenheim Lane - former steading
Blenheim Lane - early 20th century garage infrastructure
tacked onto front of steading. We can imagine a hand-pumped
petrol dispenser having pride-of-place beneath the canopy.
Blenheim Lane steading - scrap metal dealing in the yard.
 A modern day knacker's yard?

No change, really.

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