Footdee, or Fittie as its known locally, is an old fishing village at the east end of Aberdeen harbour. There is some debate as to whether the name refers to “foot of the River Dee” or is a reference to Saint Fothan but on checking on the on the net I can find no references to said saint so personally I’ll go with the river theory.

The place made the national news last September after being completely swamped by a white foam following storms and high winds. Residents of this Aberdeen suburb woke up to find that gardens, roads and even vehicles were covered in what appeared to be a blanket of unseasonable frothy warm snow.

Historic Scotland’s description of the place records somewhat woodenly that ” 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”

I am sure I could not describe the place any better except to say that it is a riot of colour and maritime ornamentation unparalleled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

Today it retains much of its original charm and the `tarry sheds´ which were added to the communal land within the housing squares opposite each dwelling make for interesting viewing. 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 whitewashed brick now predominating.

If, like this tourist group chatting to a local resident today, you find yourself in Aberdeen with a couple of hours to spare then I would suggest a visit followed by a well earned pint at the Neptune Bar just down the road.


About Duncan Harley

Author, photographer and feature writer.
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