Memories of Aberdeen, 1965

Bridge Street

My latest trawl through the shoeboxes in my loft has produced this 1965 shot of Bridge Street, Aberdeen, taken from its junction with Guild Street and looking north towards Union Street. I have no idea who took it. I don’t recall anyone in my family in the 1960s being so interested in photography that they would take a picture of a street. Nevertheless, it proves the view of Ian Hardie, late picture editor of The Press and Journal, that eventually the most interesting pictures in any family shoebox will be the ones showing streets.

At web resolution you can’t see full detail, so I had better explain that Bridge Street is still cassied (cobblestoned), although the wide expanses of tar patches suggest that the cassies won’t be surviving for much longer.

Among the businesses are the famous John Bell antiques emporium on the left, complete with Rolls-Royce GYJ 419 parked outside. The Royal Air Force recruiting office is next up the street; then come Leyland, Simpson’s, and Patrick McGee, the tailor.

Between Bell’s Antiques and the RAF recruiting office, you can see the bottom of the Bridge Street / Crown Terrace steps which have puffed out generations of Aberdonians, and were also famously included in a scene in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel of thinly disguised Aberdeen life, Grey Granite.

Car buffs have plenty to entertain them in this picture. As with many photographs from this era, almost every car is British-built. Apart from the Rolls-Royce, there are numerous Ford Consuls, a Ford Corsair, a Ford Anglia, an Austin Cambridge, a couple of Vauxhall Victors, a Ford Cortina, a Commer van and a police Ford Zephyr with its nose poking out of the right hand side of the photo at the side of the old subbie station, later a hairdressing salon.

Indeed, the only foreign vehicle I can see with my magnifying glass is a Volkswagen Caravanette beside the zebra crossing.

There is also a No15 bus in Corporation livery (green and cream had the photo been in colour), chuntering down the street to head south of the River Dee.

Filed Under: AberdeenCarsFeaturedHistoryOld photosScotland

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  1. Margaret Young says:

    How Bridge Street has deteriorated since this photograph was taken, Norman! I get quite depressed when walking up/down it on my way to and from the station. The buildings are filthy and there is vegetation growing out of some of them. I wish Ian Wood would use some of his millions to get Bridge Street and Union Street looking respectable again!

  2. Avril Spence says:

    Lovely photo. What a change from what it looks like today. Imagine letting cars park in the city centre nowadays.

  3. Marilyn Jennings Nee Bell says:

    Oh my goodness!
    A trip down memory lane!
    My father was the RAF Recruiting Officer based in Bridge Street Aberdeen around this time!
    We lived in Torphins and eventually I became a boarder at Albyn School for Girls (as it was then) when Dad was posted abroad around 1967/8.
    I left school in 1970 and have not been back to Aberdeen since!
    It’s on the list!
    I am still in contact with ex pupils from school.
    They were happy days!

    • Norman says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the picture, Marilyn.

    • stewart Nicol says:

      Can someone link me to Marilyn Jennings née Bell
      I was at Aboyne Academy. I’m a freelance writer trying to find classmates who are still alive 50+ years on. Thanks. Stewart.

      • Norman says:

        Hello, Stewart. I remember you well. We met at several community-council meetings on Deeside in the late 1970s when I was a trainee reporter and you had Alex Morrison working beside you as a freelance photographer.
        I’ll send an email to Marilyn and see if she responds. Is it all right to give her your email address?

  4. Peter says:

    I came across this site whilst searching accommodation for a trip to Aberdeen – first time I’ll have been back in 40 years.

    I have a large number of old photos of Aberdeen going back to my childhood (1950s) and before, for example, a lot of the early trams.

    If anyone is interested, let me know.

    We used to visit relatives in Dufftown back in the mid 50s. I was only 5 or 6 at the time, but I seem to remember that when the train from Aberdeen arrived at the single line station there was a horse and cart which used to take us up the hill to the clock tower where we would then be dropped off, then we’d walk back down Balvenie Street to my great aunt’s house.

    We will be visiting Dufftown in September – first time in 60 years – to see if we can find the old house.

    • Norman says:

      Thanks for getting in touch, Peter. I’m sure many history buffs in North-east Scotland would be delighted to see your pictures. The University of Aberdeen is also eager to archive heritage photographs if that appeals to you.

  5. Morag Matheson says:

    I’ve seen this picture before, a long time ago, in a book of Aberdeen photographs. I don’t know why I didn’t buy it at the time because I’m pretty certain the figures on the right are me, my sister and our mum. I recall the bus being a number 17 which might have dropped us at C&A coming from my granny at Heathryfold. We lived in Marywell Street at the time. I’ve looked in every book I’ve come across since and never found the one it’s in so it’s great to see it again, and see Bridge Street when it looked a bit tidier.

  6. Peter West says:

    Morag,
    Between 1955 and 1959 my brothers and I would wait for the No 17 to Torry outside C&A’s every Saturday Lunchtime. We’d have gone to the bus stop to get the bus to my Gran’s having been to the Odeon Saturday-morning pictures.
    We also used to get the same bus to my Gran’s quite a lot when we had moved to the South of England and came back to stay with her for the school summer holidays (from 1960 to 1966). We may have even passed in the street or on the bus at some time 🙂

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