Showing posts from January, 2020

‘Now you see it, now you don’t…’

Did you know that there was a bridge over Victoria Dock for 21 years? St Clements Bridge was built in 1953 over the south entrance of the harbour with the intention of easing road traffic on Commercial Quay and Blaikie’s Quay as well as to replace the outdated timber structures with aluminium alloy. The bridge is an important part of the Harbour history because it shows a period of modernisation and progress. St Clements was the only bridge of its kind in the world at that point and therefore became a great attraction for other harbours with similar problems. [1] It was designed by John Anderson, the harbour engineer, to fit the special requirements of Aberdeen and bypassed the deep pits to accommodate levers in favour of pulleys. [2] [The image on the left show the SS Ardgantock which transported all moving leaves and two quadrants to site and the image on the right shows the bascule bridge in half open position. Both taken from the commemorative programme.]  The ‘bridge

The filing cabinet saga

Have you ever started something which morphs from a ten minute job into one that’ll probably take three weeks? This is something which is an almost daily occurrence for an archivist so I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised that this happened to me almost immediately. Three of the boxes which arrived from the Harbour Board were marked ‘filing cabinet’ and, on closer inspection, all came with alphabetical dividers which listed the contents of folders. Amazing! This never happens. Usually you get a load of folders which have no discernible order and are full of papers which don’t relate to what’s written on the front. Of course, this meant that I wanted to catalogue these boxes first to get a decent start. Never believe anything is that easy. As I started to look through the other boxes labelled only with the location from the Harbour Board, I noticed small numbers in the corner of the files. Yes, they matched up with the filing cabinet lists but had just been taken out of seq

Setting sail

Anyone hoping to learn some of the secrets of the Aberdeen Harbour Board Archive may be slightly disappointed by this post. In typical archivist fashion, I have spent my first few weeks trying to get to grips with the collection by rooting through boxes, eating biscuits and suffering from the obligatory cold that you get when you move somewhere new. I chose to move up to Aberdeen after only seeing the city once; most of this brief visit was spent running from Old Aberdeen to the Town House because I’d got the interview location wrong and hyperventilating on the beach front because I was planning to uproot my entire life once again. I had spent four years in Warwickshire with the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust as an Archive Trainee and then as an Archive Assistant – my first job out of University. As much as I’d enjoyed working there, it was time to move on and the Harbour Board project seemed a great way to do that. Not only does the Harbour Board archive allow me to t

The Harbour Board

One of the best things about being an archivist is that you are always learning. We move from job to job and acquire a detailed specialist knowledge in some of the most wonderful topics before moving onto the next. Unsurprisingly most of us end up being very useful on a pub quiz team. Therefore, with all this moving about, it’s important to do a bit of background research on a new project before diving straight in. Some of you may already know drastically more than me about Aberdeen Harbour (this would not come as a surprise as I’ve only known of its existence for about three months) but for those who don’t, here’s a brief history of the harbour and its archive from the early 1800s-1960. Historically the Harbour had been under the control of local councillors. However, a series of acts and constitutions during the first half of the 19 th century saw the development of a board with more of a vested interest in the harbour including elected commissioners from the pool of pe

The project

Hi, I’m Mollie. I’m the Project Archivist for the Aberdeen Harbour Board Project, I’m based with the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives at Old Aberdeen House. The project aims to sort, catalogue and make accessible the records of the Harbour Board. This blog will document my progress as well as exhibiting some of the interesting documents which I find along the way. This project is funded by The National Archives and the Pilgrim’s Trust through the Archives Revealed project ( ) as well as the Harbour Board itself. The Aberdeen Harbour Board collection was deposited with the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archive in 2019. This is a common procedure as businesses which don’t have a specialist archive choose to deposit their records with local authorities, Universities or another repository of their choosing so that the material can be kept safely. The material was moved by the archive team