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Aberdeen, 26-30 Union Street, Esslemont And Macintosh

Department Store (20th Century), Office(S) (19th Century)

Site Name Aberdeen, 26-30 Union Street, Esslemont And Macintosh

Classification Department Store (20th Century), Office(S) (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Daily Free Press Offices

Canmore ID 174670

Site Number NJ90NW 1423

NGR NJ 9431 0632

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Architecture Notes


Architect: Alexander Ellis.

Site Management (1 March 2013)

Part of a department store with principal elevation to Union Street (S) comprising 2 buildings on corner sites with linking corridor at 3rd storey over St Catherine's Wynd. To right (Nos 26-30); Classical, 4-storey and attic 5 bay. To left, (Nos 32-38) Freestyle, 5-storey and attic, 4 bay. Grey granite ashlar; tooled, coursed granite to rear. String courses, cill courses. Flat-roofed canopy above ground to Union Street (S) and Broad Street (E) elevations; that to Broad Street with later (1870s) harled extension above. Some windows with original canopy blinds.

These well-detailed buildings by local architects Ellis & Wilson are a distinctive part of the streetscape of the major thoroughfare of Union Street. The building to the left (Nos 32-38) uses a variety of architectural detailing from diverse architectural styles. This Freestyle which draws on many Northern European architectural details was a popular architectural style for commercial buildings at the end of the 19th century.

Planned in the 19th century 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.

Esslemont and Macintosh were one of Aberdeen's oldest department stores. It was founded in 1873 by Peter Esslemont, a Lord Provost of the city and originally traded at premises on Broad Street.

The building to the right, Nos 26-30 Union Street were originally built as offices for the Aberdeen newspaper, the Daily Free Press. When they amalgamated with the Aberdeen Journal in 1924, Esslemont bought the property. 32-38 Union Street was the home of Sangster and Henderson, drapers and house furnishers. They went out of business in 1926 and Esslemont and MacIntosh moved into this property, selling their property on Broad Street to the Council.

Alexander Ellis and Robert Wilson were Aberdeen architects who were in practice together from 1869-1896 when Ellis died. They worked extensively in and around Aberdeen and their output included, in the main, houses, churches and other large office buildings. Wilson continued to work after Ellis' death. (Historic Scotland)


Watching Brief (27 September 2011 - 29 November 2011)

NJ 94289 06295 A watching brief was carried out 27 September – 29 November 2011 during the excavation of trenches below the floors of this former department store. No finds or features of archaeological significance were recorded.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: CandL Properties Ltd

Alison Cameron (Cameron Archaeology) 2012 (DES)


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