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46-50 (Even Nos) Union Street, Union Chambers

A Category C Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1473 / 57°8'50"N

Longitude: -2.0967 / 2°5'48"W

OS Eastings: 394247

OS Northings: 806277

OS Grid: NJ942062

Mapcode National: GBR SCN.JC

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.RMR4

Entry Name: 46-50 (Even Nos) Union Street, Union Chambers

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 355487

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20550

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

Probably Archibald Simpson, 1811 (see Notes). 3-storey and attic, 6-bay Classical tenement building with shops (altered) to ground. Cornice above ground floor, band course, deep cornice above 2nd storey. Raised, moulded architraves; cornices to 1st storey windows. Attic storey comprises deep parapet with paired attic windows to left and right with stepped and coped wallhead stacks above. Plaque at centre of attic engraved 'UNION CHAMBERS'.

Predominantly plate glass timber sash and case windows. Plate glass to shops. Gable stacks.

INTERIOR: not comprehensively seen during resurvey (2006) but believed to be extensively altered.

Statement of Interest

Situated towards the East end of Union Street, this is an early example of a classical building possibly and the first in the city by the renowned Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson. It forms an essential component of the planned streetscape of Union Street. The probably later attic windows within the wallhead stacks to the street elevation are unusual. The simple Classical style is typical of granite buildings of this period before sophisticated cutting techniques for this hard stone were developed. Planned as the major thoroughfare in an increasingly wealthy and confident city, Union Street was a bold and confident project which required major engineering to complete. The buildings which aligned the street had to reflect this sense of grandeur and confidence as the visual appearance of the street was of the utmost importance.

There is some disagreement about the date and architect of this building. Brogden suggests that this is a 1895 building by James Henderson, built as a replacement for an original Archibald Simpson structure. Cuthbert indicates that Simpson built this building in 1811 for a John Morison of Auchentoul and that this was Simpson's first commission in Aberdeen. Simpson was working in London at this time in the office of David Laing. Morison had asked Laing for a design for a house, but when he looked at the plans, Morison had preferred a design by the young Simpson. The attic storey is thought to be a later addition. The building appears on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1866-8 as the Bon Accord Music Hall.

Archibald Simpson (1790-1847), along with John Smith, was one of the major architects involved in designing the expanding 19th century city of Aberdeen. A native of Aberdeen, he practised predominately with the North East of Scotland. He designed many of the important buildings in the city including St Andrews Cathedral, The Music Hall and 29 King Street (see separate listings).

Union Street was 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 and the other which would run from the Castlegate to the North of the town. The former became Union Street. This was a particularly difficult project to complete as the street had to cut through St Katherine's Hill at the East end and be built on a series of arches culminating with a large bridge at the Denburn. The street was to be lined with classical buildings, but the initial idea of having a long, uniform classical design that each new house would have to conform to was abandoned, as it was realised that different purchasers would require some control over the design. Some variety was therefore conceded.

Part of B Group with Nos 5-53, 67-89, 95-139, 143-153 (odd nos) Union Street, Nos 26-42, 46-62, 78-106, 114-144 (even nos) Union Street and St Nicholas Churchyard.

Category changed from B to C(S), 2007.

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