Old Stonehive


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Stonehaven of 1837...


Excerpts from a series of articles published in the Stonehaven Journal of 1897 entitled Stonehaven Sixty Years Ago. It represents a unique snapshot of that time and place which I am pleased to share with you. 

Let go back in time now and learn about that market town and the people who lived there...

Stonehaven in 1837, we learn from various authentic sources, was considered to be a prosperous and progressive town, and inhabited by an energetic and industrious class of people, who were striving to improve the moral as well as the physical resources of the district.

In the year of grace 1837 the town, though not a royal burgh, was not unknown to fame, titles, and wealth. It was composed of an Old Town, situated on the south bank of the Water of Carron, in the parish of Dunnottar, and a New Town, situated on the peninsula or angle formed to the north of the Carron forming a continuation of the road from the south to Aberdeen. The Old Town is compactably built and intersected by lands and alleys adjacent to the harbour; a natural basin, sheltered on the south-east by a high rock which projects into the sea, and on the north-east by a quay, affording every facility for the loading and unloading of vessels. The shipping of the port was chiefly employed in exporting grain to Leith. During the season herring fishing was carried on, to the great advantage of the place.

The New Town was laid out on a regular plan, with a square in the centre. In the Square stands a handsome Market House, erected in 1826 by the enterprise of two townsmen., Alexander Torry and Thomas Tawlks - containing commodious shops, over which is a tavern with a spacious hall for the accommodation of public meetings; also, rooms occupied by the town dispensary. Formerly a considerable manufacture of linen and cotton goods supplied employment to a number of weavers and their families, but for some years back this branch of industry has materially declined. Stonehaven derives its principal support from the Sheriff Court of the county, which is held here every Wednesday and Friday. There is also a small debts on the first Monday of every month.

The Established Churches of Dunnottar (the Rev. Alexander Irvine) and Fetteresso (the Rev. George Thomson) are situated near the town. There is also an Episcopal Chapel (Rev. J Hutchinson), and one each for Seceders (Rev David Todd) and Methodists.

About 1815 a school was built in Robert Street, which was called the Subscription School, being the outcome of the feelings of the more respectable inhabitants of the town that a higher-class education should be provided for their children than was available at the time. The first teachers of the Academy were Mr Imrie and Mr Michie, two graduates of Marischal College. Here many received the rudiments of education up to the passing of the Education Act in 1872. The parochial schools of Fetteresso and Dunnottar were under the heritors' management, and provided excellent training at the hands of Mr Sim and Mr Silver, the former being situated close to Fetteresso Church and the latter in High Street, opposite the present board school. There was also associated with the cause of education such names as James Tocher, Christian Longmuir, Elizabeth Imrie, and May Forrest.

The medical profession was represented by Dr William Donaldson, Dr James Moncur, Dr William Thomson, and Dr John Paxton.

There were two banks established in the town at this time - a branch of the Aberdeen Town and County Bank (James Burness, agent) and a branch of the Bank of Scotland (William Stewart, agent). Glenury Distillery had been established several years by Barclay, M'Donald, & Co., and Cowie Brewery was under the management of Alexander Kinnear. The Post Office was situated in Barclay Street, George Guthrie, postmaster. Letters from Edinburgh arrived every morning at 5 o'clock, and were dispatched every afternoon at half-past 4 o'clock. 

The coaches running to Edinburgh were the Royal Mail every afternoon from the New Inn; the Defiance every morning from the New Inn, goes through Auchinblae, Fettercairn, Brechin and Forfar. To Montrose - The Swift every evening at 6 o'clock from the Union and Mill Inns. To Perth - The New Times, from Aberdeen, calls at the Mill Inn every morning at 9 o'clock, goes through Montrose, Arbroath, and Dundee.

The coaches running north to Aberdeen were - The Royal Mail, every morning at a quarter before 5 o'clock, from the Mill Inn; the Swift, every morning at 8 o'clock, from the Mill and Union Inns; the Express, every afternoon at 2 o'clock, from the New Inn; the New Times, every afternoon at half-past 3 o'clock, from the New Inn; the Union, every evening a half-past 4 o'clock, from the Union Inn; and the Defiance, every evening at half-past 6 o'clock, from the Mill and New Inns - Sundays always excepted.

Of Carriers there were - To Aberdeen, William Nicol and Charles Chapman every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; John Walker and Alexander Watt every Tuesday; William Walker every Monday and Thursday; David Sherrett every Monday; John Smart every Thursday; Widow Aitken from Cowie every Friday, and to Glasgow every Monday; Charles Edgar went to Fettercairn every Wednesday fortnight. The same carriers on the various days of the week went to Auchinblae, Bervie, Brechin, Dundee, Johnshaven, Montrose, Forfar and Perth.

Of Steam Packets calling off Stonehaven - The Aberdeen Company's vessels four times a week; to Leith, the company's vessels frequently; to Inverness, the company's vessels three times a fortnight; to Orkney and Shetland, vessels once a week during the summer.

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Market Square, Stonehaven