The Little Lanes of Aberdeen:

(submitted to the magazine Leopard in 1978 but not accepted)

Any seasoned Aberdeen taxi driver will claim to be able to tell you the whereabouts of every street in the city, but show him the list of streets in the booklet of bus timetables and before long he will come to one that he’s never heard of.

The gazetteer of the Geographia street plan includes only roads that are large enough to be shown on the map, but the timetable gazatteer includes some of the smallest lanes and alleys in the town, and it is an interesting exercise to try and find them.

Among the more attractive of these lanes are Hardgate Lane, which adjoins number 405 Holburn Street; Wellington Brae, which runs down to the suspension bridge from Prospect Terrace; and Clark’s Lane, which links Don Street with Dunbar Street in Old Aberdeen.

One of the most interesting is Oldmill Road, which for much of its length is no more than a path. It starts in Marywell Street, takes a turn to the left, crosses over Crown Street, Dee Street and Gordon Street, and comes out in Bon-Accord Street. A few yards down the hill it starts again, and it eventually joins up with Union Glen, which here is no more than a shallow depression running along the side of a wall. It seems likely that Oldmill Road was there long before any of the other streets in the area, but I haven’t seen any old maps that confirm this.

Another path dignified by the name of road is Firhill Road, which makes its way, in a series of twists and turns, from Sunnybank Road to Hermitage Avenue.

The best place to look for little lanes is Old Aberdeen, where there are no fewer than thirteen Courts, Lanes and Places running off the High Street. The only one that is difficult to find is Brewery Court, between numbers 19 and 21.

Another good area was Old Torry, but unfortunately the whole village has now been demolished to make way for the Shell Base. However, a little of the atmosphere of the old village is retained in Abbey Road.

Some of the lanes are only found after a considerable amount of searching. For example, adjoining McDonald’s bar in East North Street is an archway, and it’s only when you look closely at the name-plate over the arch that you discover that this is Justice Lane.

One of the smallest lanes is Cuparstone Lane, which runs off Holburn Street near its junction with Great Western Road. Even smaller is Farquhar’s Court, which runs off Upperkirkgate between Bissets and the Kirkgate Bar, and which was used for access to recent archaeological excavations. It is not even shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:1250 map, which has a reputation for fastidiousness in this respect, but it is faithfully recorded in the timetable booklet.

The following were all investigated early in 1978 and found to exist. The first five are situated on the north side of Castle Street/Justice Street, starting at the junction with King Street and going towards the beach.

Bremner’s Court – right of Bernie’s Restaurant.

Mathieson’s Court (gated) – used for access to the Fair City Trade Counter.

Albion Court (gated) – right of the Horseshoe Bar.

Peacock’s Close – goes through to East North Street.

Chapel Court – left of Cyril’s.

Victoria Court – off Castle Street, left of the Welly Boot. (There is a notice to say that no lorries are allowed within this court, but surely nobody would attempt to get a lorry into such a narrow opening.)

Lodge Walk – Off Castle Street, right of the Town House.

Concert Court – off broad Street behind the Town House (its appearance enhanced by old-fashioned street lighting).

Guestrow – off Netherkirkgate near its junction with Broad Street.

McCombie’s Court – from Netherkirkgate to Union Street (right of the Evening Express office).

Charles Court – off Upperkirkgate, left of the Wedding Bell, the only remaining building in Upperkirkgate to have its gable end facing the street in the traditional manner.

Burn Court (gated) – 48 Upperkirkgate.

Shoe Lane – off West North Street, left of St. Katherine’s Club.

Seamount Place – from the bend in Seamount Road, along the back of the car park, and down the steps to West North Street.

Farrier Lane – off Mealmarket Street, along the back of the shops in King Street.

Mitchell Place – 159 King Street.

Nelson Lane – off King Street, south of Nelson Street.

Hawthorn Terrace – off Urquhart Place.

Park Place – off park Street, opposite Constitution Street.

Constitution Lane – off the end of South Constitution Street.

St. Peter Lane – off St. Peter Street (Spital end).

St. Peter’s Place – off Orchard Street opposite Orchard Place (comes out by the Red Lion).

Orchard Lane – from Orchard Place to the Spital.

Firhill Place – off the Spital near its junction with Sunnybank Road.

Millbank Place – off George Street, left of number 637.

Stephen Place – off George Street, between Fraser Place and Powis Lane (left of Wood the Fishmonger’s).

Charles Place – from Fraser Place to Charles Street.

Kingsland Place – off George Street, opposite Gerard Street.

Rodger’s Walk – off John Street, along the side of the railway.

Theatre Lane – from Regent Quay to Virginia Street (burrows under the Elim Tabernacle Church).

Adelphi Lane – from Market Street to Adelphi.

Martin’s Lane – off the Green, parallel with Carmelite Street.

Patagonian Court – off Belmont Street, opposite Gaelic Lane.

Donald’s Court – off Schoolhill, left of Rickson’s.

Donald Place – off Forbes Street (Rosemount Terrace end).

Novar Place – off Ann Street (Hutcheon Street end).

Loanhead Walk – off Loanhead Terrace, opposite Loanhead Place.

Mackie Place – off Skene Street (still rural in character, although only a quarter of a mile from Union Street).

Skene Lane – off Skene Street (runs down the left-hand side of Skene Street School).

Windsor Place – from Victoris Street to Thistle Lane.

Springbank Place – from Dee Place to Springbank Street.

Devanha Lane – from Polmuir Road to Prospect Terrace.

Alford Lane – from Alford Place to Holburn Street near Holburn Junction.

Cuparstone Row – from Ashvale Place to Great Western Road.

Coutt’s Court – off Holburn Street, between Howburn Place and Fonthill Road (right of the Golden Fry).

Strachan’s Lane – off Holburn Street between Coutt’s Court and the Holburn Bar (easily missed because the name plate is set back).

Cottage Brae – off Nellfield Place, between numbers 27 and 29.

Friendship Terrace – off Ashley Road opposite Claremont Street.

Nursery Lane – from West Cairncry Road to Stocket Parade.

Society Lane – from Great Northern Road to Clifton Road.

Although many lanes have been lost in recent years, it is pleasing to see that so many have survived to the present day, and it is hoped that in years to come they will be regarded as part of the city’s heritage, and worth preserving wherever this is possible.