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No 15 South Square, Footdee

A Category C Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Latitude: 57.143 / 57°8'34"N

Longitude: -2.0703 / 2°4'13"W

OS Eastings: 395842

OS Northings: 805795

OS Grid: NJ958057

Mapcode National: GBR SHD.5G

Mapcode Global: WH9QR.5QDF

Plus Code: 9C9V4WVH+6V

Entry Name: No 15 South Square, Footdee

Listing Name: Footdee, No 15 South Square

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 399590

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50942

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Find accommodation in


John Smith, 1808-9 with later additions by William Smith (see Notes). Symmetrical 2-storey and attic, 3-bay terraced house. Coursed granite rubble with some snecking; painted granite dressings. Central doorway with multi-pane glazing; 12-pane top-opening windows to ground floor and 12-pane casement windows to first floor, some with bulls-eye glass; central piended dormer breaks eaves.

Left gable harled; Grey slate; gable-end stack to right; ashlar skews and skewputts; clay cans.

Statement of Interest

No 15 South Square is an particularly substantial building in Footdee with widely-spaced bays. The broad distances between floors is unusual within Footdee. The alterations to the original single-storey dwelling were carried out in 1870 by William Smith, son of John Smith (see below) during his time as City Architect. In this case, they have resulted in a rational and symmetrical house. His additions were originally planned for Pilot Square and although tenement style additions were eventually made to the adjacent square, this was not until after William Smith's tenure.

The entire Footdee village was added to the statutory list in 1967 as a single entity. The village was subsequently given Conservation Area status in 1968. At resurvey in 2006, each building within the Conservation Area was re-assessed separately. Key examples, demonstrating both individual architectural interest and representing the history and development of the village as a whole, were selected for listing.

Footdee is a particularly interesting example of a planned housing development purpose-built to re-house Aberdeen's local fishing community. Laid out in 1809 by John Smith, then Superintendent Of The Town's Public Works. Smith went on to establish himself as one of Aberdeen's key architects. Occupying an isolated spit of land to the SE of Aberdeen's city centre, its regimented squares have been described as 'a cross between the neo-classical aspirations of Aberdeen and the close-knit fishing communities of the north-east'.

The two squares of Footdee originally contained 28 single-storey thatched houses although this increased when the later Middle Row (circa 1837) and Pilot Square (circa 1855) were added. The entrances on each of the North and South squares were filled in the 1870's by William Smith (son of John and architect of Balmoral Castle). He also added additional storeys to the East and West sides of South Square creating a tenement feel. This was an attempt to ease crowding resulting from an influx of fishing families from other less prosperous areas and to help try to enforce the 'one-house-one-family' rule.

The Town Council decided to start selling the dwellings to occupiers in 1880, beginning a period of incremental development and reconstruction. Additional storeys and dormers were added piecemeal by the new owners as funds allowed. The result is one of individuality expressed within the constraints of a strictly formal plan and is a contributing factor to the special architectural and historical interest of Footdee as a whole.

Throughout the 19th century, 'tarry sheds' were added to the communal land within the squares opposite each dwelling and now every dwelling has its own shed. Originally constructed from drift wood and other found materials, the sheds have been built and rebuilt in an idiosyncratic manner over the years in a variety of materials with rendered brick now predominating slightly (2006). Some timber built sheds remain, predominantly on the North side of North Square.

Referred to locally and historically as 'Fittie', the derivation of which remains uncertain although a number of suggestions have been put forward. The Church of St Fittick is situated half a mile away to the south. 'Footdee' is a more recent and literal Anglicisation, derived from its proximity to the mouth of the River Dee.

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

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