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Classification and Statistics

Settlement Type: city
Population (2001): 184788    
(1991): 189707
(1981): 190464
(Combined with Bankhead, Bieldside, Bridgefoot, Cults and Peterculter)
(1971): 182071
(1961): 185390
(1951): 182729
(1901): 143722
(Royal, Parliamentary and Municipal Burgh)
(1891): 124943
(1881): 105082
(1871): 88189
(1861): 73805
(1851): 71973
(1841): 63288
(1831): 56681
(1821): 43821
(1811): 34649
(1801): 26992
(1755): 15730
(1708): 5556
(1643): 8750
(1581): 5833
(1572): 4000
(1396): 2977

Tourist Rating: Four Stars
Text of Entry Updated: 07-SEP-2016

Latitude: 57.1457°N Longitude: 2.1024°W
National Grid Reference: NJ 939 061
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The city's motto - Bon Accord - is said to come from an incident during the Wars of Independence in 1308, when Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329) was assisted by local citizens in attacking and destroying Aberdeen Castle, which was occupied by the supporters of the English King Edward I. The motto, meaning 'good luck' was the password for the attack. Bruce was grateful to the Aberdonians for their support and thanked them with the gift of a large area of land. This became known as the Freedom Lands and provided the city with much needed funds from forestry, mills, hunting and other rights. This land was progressively sold off as the city expanded westwards, with the funds realised in part used to lay out New Aberdeen in the 19th C.

Famous people born in Aberdeen include artist George Jameson (1586 - 1644), mathematician and astronomer David Gregory (1659 - 1708), architect James Gibbs (1682 - 1754), plant collector Francis Masson (1741 - 1805), clergyman John Strachan (1778 - 1867), who was First Bishop of Toronto, architect Archibald Simpson (1790 - 1847), notable for many of Aberdeen's finest buildings, sculptor Sir John Steell (1804-91), painter William Dyce (1806-64), clergyman and hymn-writer Walter Chalmers Smith (1824 - 1908), Astronomer Royal Sir David Gill (1843 - 1914), surgeon Sir Alexander Ogston (1844 - 1929), American sculptor Alexander Milne Calder (1846 - 1923), missionary Robert Laws (1851 - 1934), architect Sir Ninian Comper (1864 - 1920), poet Marion Angus (1866 - 1946), stained-glass artist Douglas Strachan (1875 - 1950), prosecutor and politician David Maxwell Fyfe (1900-67), actor Andrew Cruickshank (1907-88), artist Alberto Morrocco (1917-98), novelist Doris Davidson (1922 - 2012), footballers Ron Yeats (b.1937) and Denis Law (b.1940), actor Michael Sheard (1940 - 2005), record-breaking swimmer Ian Black (b.1941), actor and comedian Graeme Garden (b.1943), tenor Neil Mackie (b. 1946), child-actor Vincent Winter (1947 - 1998), singer Annie Lennox (b.1954), politician Nicol Stephen (b.1960), ballet dancer and choreographer Michael Clark (b.1962), Olympic canoeist Tim Baillie (b.1979) and Paralympian Neil Fachie (b.1984).

Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, which was formed in 1975 but amalgamated into a national service in 2013, was noted for their unusual white fire engines.

Following a series of bad planning decisions and closures amongst city-centre shops, Aberdeen residents were disappointed to hear the city had been named the most dismal place in Scotland in 2015 as part of the Carbuncle Awards.

Historically, Aberdeen has built much of its wealth on trade. Early exports included salted fish (principally salmon), hides and wool. In the 18th C. the manufacture and export of worsted stockings provided a significant industry. An incredible 680,000 pairs were shipped to Europe in 1789 alone. By the end of that century linen mills became important and the textiles industry continued until the closure of Richards of Aberdeen's Broadford Works in 2004. Founded in the early 19th C., Richards had a workforce of 3000 in the years preceding the First World War, the largest single employer in the city. The export of granite also began in the 18th C. and reached its peak in the later 19th C. Granite setts were used to pave streets in London and elsewhere, while the stone was also used to construct fine buildings worldwide. Paper mills were also an important industry, primarily operating on the River Don. Stoneywood Mill (opened in 1770) is the last; Donside Mill closed in 2001 and Davidson Mill closed in 2005. The 19th C. brought improved transport links: the Aberdeenshire Canal opened to traffic in 1805 and allowed agricultural produce to be brought more easily into the city, while the arrival of the railway in 1850 permitted live cattle to be transported south. There is no longer any shipbuilding in Aberdeen since Hall Russell closed their yard in 1992. Aberdeen's economy is now dependent on services. Supplying the North Sea oil industry ensures that Aberdeen Harbour remains one of Britain's busiest ports, but its importance in terms of fishing has declined markedly since the 1980s. More than a thousand companies operate within the oil and gas sector in or around Aberdeen, and companies with headquarters or significant offices here include BP Exploration, Chevron, Petro-Canada UK, Shell Exploration, Talisman Energy (UK), Total Upstream UK and the Wood Group. Opened in 1985, the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) at Bridge of Don was built to attract international events for the oil and gas industry, in particular the Offshore Europe conference which takes place every two years and was attended by around 63,000 delegates in 2013. FirstGroup Plc, the international transport business has its global headquarters in Aberdeen, having grown from the local authority bus company, Grampian Regional Transport. Aberdeen Airport (at Dyce) is a bustling regional hub, while its heliport is one of the busiest in the world, transporting oil personnel to Shetland and production platforms in the North Sea. Like other cities, urban renewal from the later 20th C. has brought large shopping centres; the Trinity Centre (1984), the St. Nicholas Shopping Centre (1985), the Bon Accord Shopping Centre (1990) and Union Square (2009). Two construction companies have a significant presence in Aberdeen; the Stewart Milne Group are headquartered here while CALA Homes grew out of the City of Aberdeen Land Association, which was founded in 1875 and was the first Scottish company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. The financial sector is also important, with Aberdeen Asset Management based in the city and responsible for around £330 billion in its managed funds (2015).
References and Further Reading
Anon (1998) Aberdeen City Council Official Guide. Aberdeen City Council
Brogden, W.A. (1986) Aberdeen: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Scottish Academic Press and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Edinburgh
Brown, Fiona-Jane (2013) Hidden Aberdeen: History on Your Doorstep and Under Your Feet. Black and White Publishing, Edinburgh
Colin, Milne (2010) Aberdeen City Graveyards and Cemeteries.
Fraser, W. Hamish and Clive H. Lee (eds.) (2000) Aberdeen, 1800 to 2000: A New History. Tuckwell Press Ltd., Edinburgh
Fraser, G.M. (1986) Aberdeen Street Names. Republished from the original 1911 edition by James G. Bisset, Aberdeen
Graham, Cuthbert (1980) Portrait of Aberdeen and Deeside. Robert Hale Limited, London
Graham, Cuthbert (1975) Historical Walk-About of Aberdeen. Aberdeen Corporation Publicity Department, Aberdeen
Holder, Geoff (2010) The Guide to Mysterious Aberdeen. The History Press Ltd., Stroud
Keith, Alexander (1987) A Thousand Years of Aberdeen. Aberdeen University Press
MacInnes, Ranald (2000) The Aberdeen Guide. Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh
Marren, Peter (1982) A Natural History of Aberdeen. Robin Callander, Finzean
Mitchell, Ian R. (2010) Aberdeen: Beyond the Granite. Luath Press, Edinburgh
Morgan, Diane (2009) Lost Aberdeen: The Freedom Lands. Birlinn, Edinburgh
Morgan, Diane (2009) Lost Aberdeen. Birlinn, Edinburgh
Morgan, Diane (2009) Lost Aberdeen: The Outskirts. Birlinn, Edinburgh
Sharples, Joseph, David W. Walker and Matthew Woodworth (2015) The Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire: South and Aberdeen. Yale University Press, New Haven and London
Shepherd, Ian (1996) Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Aberdeen and North East Scotland. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and HMSO, Edinburgh
Smith, Robert (2005) Aberdeen Curiosities. Birlinn, Edinburgh
Smith, Robert (1989) The Granite City: A History of Aberdeen. John Donald Publishers Ltd., Edinburgh
Wilkie, Moira M. and Elizabeth M. Garden (1977) This Braif Toun. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Aberdeen

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