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Union Works
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Union Works

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Union Works
Historic Documents
Union Works
An illustration of the Union Works factory on College Street, Aberdeen. This drawing, which looks south across railway tracks outside the Joint Station, is sourced from a book called A Descriptive Account of Aberdeen Illustrated (published by W. T. Pike & Co. in around 1894). This book provides an account of the history and then current operation of Messrs. Alexander Pirie & Sons, owners of the Union Works at the time.

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.

In the late 19th century, the time of the above mentioned book, Messrs. Alex. Pirie & Sons also operated Stoneywood Works at Auchmill, their first and largest site, the Woodside Works and various offices and warehouses around the world. Both Stoneywood and Woodside Works were located on the River Don.

As indicated above the illustration, Union Works primarily produced envelopes and enamelled papers. This would be done with paper created in the firm's Donside factories. A Descriptive Account states that Messrs. Pirie were employing nearly 1000 people at the College Street site and between one third and one half of all envelopes in Britain were being made there. The book additionally asserts that the firm were the first to introduce envelope making machines into Scotland.

The avenue shown in this illustration to the left of the factory runs from Guild Street in the north all the way down and around the south side of the works to the junction of Wellington Road, South College Street and Marywell Street.

The production of envelopes, plus other paper products such as note paper, was continued well into the 20th century by Pirie, Appleton & Co.

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.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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