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Union Works
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Union Works

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Union Works
Historic Photographs
Union Works
A mid-20th century photograph of the Union Works in central Aberdeen. This images looks south east across College Street from a high vantage point and has railway tracks, Poyernook and the hills of Torry in the background.

The factory likely dates from around 1862. A notice from the Aberdeen Herald newspaper of 17th May 1862, page 4, records Alexander Pirie & Sons moving from the Adelphi to their new premises of Union Works, Poyernook.

From the 1860s onwards, the works were owned and operated by Alexander Pirie & Sons, then Pirie, Appleton & Co. and finally Wiggins Teape (Stationery), Ltd.

At the time of this photograph, the works were likely operated by Pirie, Appleton & Co. This image may been sourced from a promotional brochure for the company. In addition to the Union Works, they also had factories at Chadwell Heath in East London and in Dublin, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

As with many significant local enterprises, the operation of Pirie, Appleton & Co. is described in mid-20th century Official Handbooks created for the Corporation of the City of Aberdeen. The volume from 1954 states that the company specialised in manufacturing commercial envelopes, including their successful "River Series."

The company had also recently introduced a quality note-paper to their range called "Mitre Club," which is described as a brand of social stationery. They additionally manufactured different types of account and manuscript books, including a system of loose leaf binding known as "Swing-o-Ring." Other products include "printers' cards, paper collars, commerial heading, filing folders, and record cards." (pages 166-167).

In this image, a large sign can be seen on the north side of the factory building that reads "The mark of good stationery" with an Aberdeen terrier. This black Scottie dog, closely associated with the city, was adopted as a trade-mark of the company in the mid-20th century.

Wiggins Teape and Co. had amalgamated with Alexander Pirie & Sons in 1922 (see Aberdeen Daily Journal, 30th March 1922, page 4). Alex. Pirie & Sons and Pirie, Appleton & Co. were subsidiary companies of Wiggins Teape.

The Union Works site closed down not long after 1969 when Wiggins Teape began construction of a replacement factory at Dyce (see Evening Express, 4th September 1969, page 7).

The site was sold and the works were demolished to make way for the multi-storey office block, St. Machar House. Built by Sir Robert Alpine & Sons for Neale House Properties (Aberdeen) Limited, to a design by architects Mackie, Ramsay & Taylor, construction was well under way by Autumn 1975 (Evening Express, 2nd August 1975, 'Business Bureau' page 6).

Below the southern end of St. Machar House, the rest of the old Union Works site is occupied by the College Street Car Park, built by Arup and Partners (Scotland), with consulting architects Baxter, Clark & Paul, and opened on 4th July 1991.
South College Street
Aberdeen Local Studies
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