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Latitude: 57.1481 / 57°8'53"N
Longitude: -2.0938 / 2°5'37"W
OS Eastings: 394422
OS Northings: 806361
OS Grid: NJ944063
Mapcode National: GBR SD2.FR
Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.TL4K
Entry Name: 5 Castle Street (Former Clydesdale Bank)
Listing Date: 12 January 1967
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 354769
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20162
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour
Traditional County: Aberdeenshire
Archibald Simpson, 1839-42. 3-storey, 6 and 2-bay Classical former bank building with impressive Corinthian-columned quadrant corner entrance portico, situated at important corner site in city centre. Lower bay to far left of Castle Street elevation (S) with tall round-arched opening leading to Logie pend. Channelled grey granite ashlar, coursed tooled granite to rear. Base course, deep modillioned cornice to 2nd storey, balustraded parapet. 1st and 2nd storey windows set in recesses with aprons with carved Cornucopia motifs dividing storeys.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: slightly recessed quadrant corner entrance portico comprises 4 double-height Corinthian columns. Entrance steps between columns with low decorative iron gates. Corniced and architraved tall doorpiece with recessed 8-panel 2-leaf timber entrance door. Quadrant corner surmounted by coloured terracotta statue of Ceres by James Giles.
Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows to upper storeys with plate glass with narrow top lights to ground. Wallhead stacks to W.
INTERIOR: excellent, opulent decorative scheme to ground floor. Fluted Corinthian-pilastered former banking hall with patterned tesserae floor and gilded plaster Parthenon frieze. Coffered ceiling. Decorative plaster cornicing. Panelled timber doors. Timber panelled screen with glass and timber panels above. Upper floors converted to office use.
This is a strategic building by Archibald Simpson, one of Aberdeen's most celebrated architects, situated at the heart of the city on the axial corner between Castle Street and King Street and at the beginning of the major thoroughfare of Union Street. With elevations to two major streets, the impressive linking Corinthian-columned portico creates a landmark building which embodies the aspirations of the North of Scotland Bank. 19th century Aberdeen is characterised by quality Classical architecture of which Simpson was an assured exponent. The former bank is arguably the finest work in the city centre. The ground floor has a lavish interior scheme which including a Parthenon frieze and tessserae floors.
The building was the winning design in a competition, and it was built for the Head Office of the North of Scotland Bank. The foundation stone was laid in 1840.
The sculpture of Ceres, the Goddess of Plenty, was designed by local sculptor James Giles (1801-70) and shows the Goddess accompanied by a Cornucopia and a British Lion. The figure was modelled by Nelson Routledge Lucas and Company.
Archibald Simpson (1790-1847), along with John Smith, was one of the major architects involved in designing the expanding nineteenth century city of Aberdeen. A native of Aberdeen, he practised predominately with the North East of Scotland. He designed many of the important works in the city including St Andrews Cathedral, The Music Hall and 29 King Street (see separate listings).
Union Street and King Street were developed after 1794, when a town council meeting asked the engineer Charles Abercrombie to find a way to connect the original steep, haphazard network of Medieval streets of Aberdeen to the surrounding countryside. His plan was for two streets, one of which would run from Castlegate to the Denburn (Union Street) and the other which would run from the Castlegate to the North of the town (King Street). Planned as major thoroughfares in an increasingly wealthy and self-assured city, the streets were bold and confident projects some of which required major engineering to complete. The buildings which aligned them had to reflect a sense of grandeur and confidence as the visual appearance of the street was of the utmost importance.
Part of B Group with 5 Castle Street, Nos 1-56 (inclusive nos) King Street and St Andrews Episcopal Cathedral.
Currently restaurant with offices above (2006).
References from previous list description: Contracts Aberdeen Journal June 4th 1839. N S A v12 p104. Chapman & Riley p148. W Douglas Simpson in Country Life Aug 19th 1965.
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