Netherkirkgate can claim to be the oldest street in Aberdeen, with a charter of 1212 mentioning a “Way of the Ash Tree” that matches the physical factors of the thoroughfare in the heart of the city.
Regardless of its roots, for centuries the Netherkirkgate was at the centre of life in the medieval city. Its character was retained into relatively modern times, with its narrow streets and wynds, boasting the likes of the Wallace Tower, or Benholm’s Lodging, dating from the 16th century
All of that was swept away in the rush to modernise during the 1960s, replaced with Marks and Spencer in 1964. We’ve opened our archives to look at how Netherkirkgate has changed over the years.
The Wallace Tower at the Netherkirkgate in 1939 – many years before it was shifted to its new site at Seaton to make way for the M&S building in 1964. The tower stood roughly where the store’s food hall is today.
The medieval layout of Netherkirkgate meant it was a narrow roadway – something that caused problems as the level of traffic grew in the city centre. Here, council officials are taking a census of vehicles in the cobbled thoroughfare in 1957.
Long before shopping malls came on the scene Aberdeen city centre in 1963 was a maze of shops and local department stores. This picture is taken from the corner of Correction Wynd looking into St Nicholas Street and into the Netherkirkgate where the Wallace Tower can be seen on the right before it was moved stone by stone.
The corner of Netherkirkgate and St Nicholas Street was home to Raggie Morrison’s store, now Marks and Spencer. This photo from the 30s shows the popular shop and also the tram lines and horse-drawn carts travelling along St Nicholas Street.
The pile of rubble in this photo from 1964 was all that remained of the shops which stood where the Netherkirkgate met St Nicholas Street. You can see the skeleton of the new Marks and Spencer store taking shape.