Brig O' Don

 

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History of the Balgownie Brig and its Surrounding Neighbourhood....

 

The Bridge of Don, or, Balgownie Brig, lies about half-a-mile north of Old Aberdeen, on the East Coast of Scotland. This Bridge is formed of one Gothic arch, founded upon a rock, upon each side of the river. It is 69 feet 8 inches wide at the bottom; 46 feet high from the surface of the water to the top of the parapet wall when there is neither flood nor tide in the river. The height of the arch, when there is neither flood nor tide is 35 feet from the surface, making 11 feet of stone work on top of the arch. The breadth of the passage over the bridge, for carriages, is 11 feet, depth of water at the bridge is 19 feet. I may mention that, about one hundred yards above the bridge, at a place well-known by the name of Black Nook, the depth of water is 33 feet, and, I believe, this is the deepest part of the Don. Deep as the water is at this place, many a good salmon I have assisted to take out of it, and many hundred has my father and grandfather taken out of it before my day, and now, I may say, it is a barren pool when compared with what it was then....

Opposite to Seaton-House you will observe Kethock's Mills, where flour is ground, and which is presently occupied by Mr Whyte... On leaving the mills, you will see Balgownie Lodge on the left; this is the seat of Mr Robertson, who has of late expended a large sum of money in making improvements about the house and pleasure ground, which does him much credit; and, at the same time, he has done much good to the labouring class by affording them employment. Mr Forbes of Fraserfield grants the liberty of walking along a foot path in the wood on the north side of the river...

The cottage to the east of Balgownie Lodge is occupied by Dr Moir, a celbrated physician.... At the north end of the bridge you may have a good dram, etc., in a neat thatched public-house, with a clean interior.... The large house above this is called Bridgefield, which is on lease, of which there is about 50 years to run; it is leased by Mr Alex. Rennie, who lets it to any respectable tenant that may require such accommodation as it affords: it is at present occupied by Mr Rennie, brewer in Aberdeen. On passing along the bridge you will observe a grocer's shop on the south side, where you may be supplied with almost every kind of groceries, as well as a little of the mountain dew. On the opposite side of the road is a school, the teacher of which has practised in the village for 38 years. It was lately proposed by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to erect a new school-house, the expense of which was to be defrayed by subscription, but the feu-duty on the Fraserfield side, being too high, prevented this excellent proposal from being carried into effect. The house on the south side of the river, standing on the low ground, belongs to the heritors of the salmon fishings of Nether Don. The roofless walls behind this are the remains of an ice-house which was built in the year 1800; the sight of this is the cause of many conjectures, and the conclusion generally come to is that it has been a castle! There is a shiel, or small house, on the opposite side of the river, which is often sketched by those taking a draft of the bridge. In this house salmon used to be boiled, but it is now used by the fishermen as a place of shelter in rough weather, or as a resting place when they have a minute's leisure.

A little further down the river, on the opposite side is a thatched bothy, used also as a resting place, and on the top of the hill is posted a man to watch the fish going up the river, and, on seeing any, calls out, fail, a term which has long been used by fishermen, and means, be quick and lower the net into the water that the fish may be taken.

A little up the hill is the Mains of Seaton farm-house, occupied by Mr John Watt, Lord James Hay's butler; near this place a monthly cattle market is held on the first Tuesday of the month. Close to this are some thatched houses where government horses were kept when the dragoons lay encamped on the Links...

 

History of The Old Bridge of Don or Balgownie Brig and its Surrounding Neighbourhood
by William Nicol
1851