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Aberdeen, 11 Gallowgate, Aberdeen University Students' Union

Students Union (19th Century)

Site Name Aberdeen, 11 Gallowgate, Aberdeen University Students' Union

Classification Students Union (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) 2 - 4 Upperkirkgate

Canmore ID 148116

Site Number NJ90NW 682

NGR NJ 94180 06488

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeen, City Of
  • Parish Aberdeen
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District City Of Aberdeen
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ90NW 482 94180 06488

Club [NAT]

OS 1:1250 map, 1973.

Site Management (26 November 2003)

3-storey and attic 'Aberdeen Baronial' university building on prominent corner site with shops at ground. Contains fine series of murals by Robert Sivell and Alberto Morocco (see Notes). Polished granite ashlar with finely tooled dressings.

The former Aberdeen University Student Union building occupies a particularly prominent corner location at the bottom of Upperkirk Gate with sight lines down the length of Broad Street to Castlehill. The building is finely detailed with machicolation, ogee-arched windows and octagonal turret. The continous shopfronts to ground floor are relatively unaltered, helping to anchor the building to its corner site.

The bar contains a series of particularly interesting murals by Robert Sivell. Sivell was born in Paisley in 1888, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art as well as in Paris and Florence, and also worked as an engineer in Canada and America. In 1919 he helped found the Glasgow Society of Painters and Sculptors. He was a renowned and commited figurative painter. The murals were begun in 1938 and completed in 1953, and cover over 1,300 square feet. During this time he was Head of the Painting Department at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. He was helped by two of his former pupils, Alberto Morocco (also a renowned mural painter) and Gordon S. Cameron. The panels depict the journey of life, from Creation to Death, including one illustrating the Blitz. The Pastoral panel on the E wall includes portraits of Sivell himself (or at least his back), and his wife and daughter. Sivell retired from the School the following year in 1954. The distinguished Scottish portrait artist and director of the Glasgow School of Art, Sir William O Hutchison, described the work as 'the greatest mural painting carried out in Scotland during this century, and perhaps any other, and one must express the hope that it will be preserved'. The City of Aberdeen Art Gallery hold formative cartoons for the project, as well as some scaled down replicas of the completed paintings. (Historic Scotland)


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