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Latitude: 57.1429 / 57°8'34"N
Longitude: -2.0717 / 2°4'18"W
OS Eastings: 395760
OS Northings: 805785
OS Grid: NJ957057
Mapcode National: GBR SH6.FF
Mapcode Global: WH9QR.4QRJ
Entry Name: Footdee, No 26 South Square
Listing Date: 12 January 1967
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 399591
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50943
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour
Traditional County: Aberdeenshire
John Smith, 1837 (see Notes). Single-storey, 3-bay simple detached cottage occupying former entrance on west side of South Square. Predominantly coursed granite rubble with some snecking; granite dressings. Central doorway flanked by small openings set close to eaves level.
4-pane timber sash and case windows; grey slate; square-plan gable-end stacks; decorative clay cans; ashlar skews and skewputts. Timber 'tarry' shed stands opposite house within South Square.
No 26 South Square is the only detached dwelling within the Footdee Squares. John Smith added the dwelling to the 'gap site', previously the entrance to the South Square, in 1837. This was in an effort to ease over-crowding within the village and help enforce the Council's one-house-one-family rule. The building retains its original proportions, and also retains a particularly good timber shed on the square opposite as part of the property.
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 the list.
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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