Blackie’s Quay

Provost Blaikie’s Quay

Blaikie Brothers, Ironfounders, Engineers, Millwrights, Boilermakers, and general Blacksmiths, Footdee Iron Works.
A notable piece of work they carried out was the renovation of Crathie Suspension Bridge near Balmoral Castle in 1885. This work was contracted by Queen Victoria.  Devanha House was later owned by the Shipbuilder, John Blaikie, who, with 2 of his 5 brothers, founded the Footdee firm of Blaikie Bros., Engineers & Iron Founders.

Sir Thomas Blaikie was both the Managing Partner of Blaikie Brothers, Iron Founders in Aberdeen, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Aberdeen Railway Company.  While he was acting as Chairman, Blaikie “entered into a contract on behalf of the Company with his own firm, for the purchase of a large quantity of iron chairs at a certain stipulated price.”  In Scotland and England at that time, statutes applicable to companies incorporated by special act of Parliament provided that no person interested in a contract with the Company would be qualified to be a Director, and any Director who entered into such a contract was deemed to have vacated his office.  The contract was deemed unenforceable.

Sail and Steam – Horses and Carts – Rare 2 Wheeled Horse Cart – these were still in use in the 1940’s

The Construcion of the Quay
Provost Blaikie’s Quay was extended downward 200 yards, reaching to the Dock gates.  James Abernethy found the depth of the harbour at high water of mean spring tides to be 17 feet, and below water he found by boring, sand, 2 feet; sandy clay, 4 feet; soil and vegetable matter (peat-moss, 2 feet; and gravel beneath it.  At Regent Bridge he found 6 feet of moss at 12 feet below the bed of the Harbour, where the depth of water was 15 feet; and there the peat-moss was found in excavating the foundations of the Piers of the new bridge. With such a backing to the 1st built part of Waterloo Quay there was a great danger of leakage at neap tides, without the possibility of replacing it for several ships of great draught might have grounded.  Market Quay was built; the whole area of the wet docks was deepened by dredging, so as to give 18 feet of water; rails were laid round the docks; and besides the old sewer, made along the east side of Waterloo Quay in 1811 to take up the sewerage of the Powcreek open drain, a new sewer was laid from Poynernook along the quays to the tidal harbour below the dock gates. In constructing this sewer in 1844the old original quay wall of unknown age, but certainly older than 1400, was found opposite the Weigh-House, which stood on the west side of Weigh-House Square.

This picture is taken at Provost Blaikie’s Quay– .Near the J & A Davidson’s Coal Merchants and the Bon Accord State Yard.

Logs sensible stacked and bonded ‘better biggit‘ probably awaiting attention form my Uncle Eddie Masson at the sawmill – aye Dod and Ali Masson were distant relatives. Eddie sawed of one of his legs one day and warmed his aluminium replacement at the fire to stop the phantom limb feeling cold.  He went on to run the Torry chipper – as it was more stationary work – then left for Canada to operate an Otis Lift.  Ali went out to visit and ripped him off heavily before disappearing into the wilds of 1950’s Canada Circa 1952.

I place this at the bridge end of Blaikies Quay and Regent Street somewhere near J & A Davidson Coal Merchants office where I paid for my mithers Coal delivery by the Hundred-weight – CWT (At other times she was forced to buy it by the stone but at a higher price from a ‘Closie’ Coalman in Commerce Street at a greater but affordable mark-up – the quayside opposite was by then for Colliers only – but god help ye if you picked up any loose coal.  There was a cast iron water hydrant where we used to slake our thirst operated by a knob with a quarter turn either way to get an oral  fountain or fill a horses bucket.  Jees when a Clydesdale started pissing on the cobbles ye had tae move quick. Yet I never heard one fart ever.  The cartie driver would often give you a lift and let you climb up onto his rickety seat for a wee hurl o’er the chatterin cassies each heralded by 4 steel rimmed wheels and whip to remind the horse who was in charge.   All there was to stop them running away on a brae was a wooden brake shoe operated by a hand wound wheel.  The shires were great feathered footed  gentle beasts who were housed overnight in magnificent  terraced stables with ramps in Virginia Street near the Bannerman Bridge and some mature shires had full military moustaches and would eat yer ‘piece’ gladly.  When the Cartie driver went to dinner so did the horse tossing his nosebag up and doon tae get a crunchful and relieving himself in the aforesaid manner and also shedding a pile of well rounded manure that we could use as grenades against our enemies when they had dried but slightly.

When my son Gavin was about 4,  I took him to the Shirehorse Centre a Pub near Maidenhead circa 1974 and there was the self same Carties and those magnificent beasts – the blacksmith made a steel shoe out of straight flat bar for those massive dinner plate hooves and gave Gavin a wee sook of his beer.  A grand day out for both of us and the anvil still rings in my ears – well it could be tinnitus.

Unloading Coal for the Scottish Gas Board using grab cranes that would drop the grab into the hold and raise it fully laden over the ships bulwarks to the shunting rail wagons on the quayside and simply shedding the load into the boxed interior with a fair degree of spillage.  Woe betide anyone who was tempted to pick up such residue at any time of day or night as that was considered as stealing by the Harbour police.  Needs must when the devil drives – in a poorly insulated poverty stricken tenement attic and the gauntlet would be run.

The Coal Merchants delivered coal by horseand cart and later with Steam Lorries as the fuel was already on board.  Transmission was via the back axle which was chain driven – magnificent sparking, steaming, spitting old things with a chimney that ran through the cab for heating and warming up yer 3d Bradies and Scotch Mutton Pies on request or yer farthing rowies.  A thing like a crocodile toothed frying pan underneath the number plate caught the ash and over boiling water and its tongues of flame licking innards looked like the portal of a dragons mouth or the gates o’ hell.  Note the single nearside headlamp. The Aberdeen Coal and Shipping Company Limited was founded on 07 Dec 1900 and had its registered office in Perth.

A Sentinel DG4 was painted up for deliver to Mutter Howey & Co of Charlotte Street and Guild Street. This type of steam lorry was in production from 1926 to 1935. After 1931 pneumatic tyres were optional but this vehicle has solid tyres and chain drive. With a vertical boiler and Duplex engine, its 11 foot 6 inch wheelbase could carry 6 or 7 tons.