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Woolmanhill looking towards Schoolhill
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Woolmanhill looking towards Schoolhill

Historic Photographs
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Woolmanhill looking towards Schoolhill
Historic Photographs
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Woolmanhill looking towards Schoolhill
Photograph of Woolmanhill taken 1907, looking towards Schoolhill. This image is thought to show the house where Joseph Robertson (1810-1866), the journalist and historian, was born.

For more information on Robertson see the entry about him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (available online with an active library membership) and an obituary for him can be found in the Aberdeen Journal of 19th December 1866, page 6.

Roberston was mostly likely born at 73 Woolmanhill. He and his family certainly appear to have lived at this address for some time. Robertson is listed at this number in the Aberdeen Directory 1833-34 (D. Chalmers & Co.), page 116. Additionally, a death notice for Robertson's mother, Christian Leslie, features in the Aberdeen Journal of 23rd March 1859, page 5, which gives her address as 73 Woolmanhill.

Exactly which of the shown buildings is Robertson's birthplace, or no. 73, is somewhat unclear. A Press & Journal article on "Historic Woolmanhill" from 6th June 1925, page 5, states "it was in the line of houses that separate Blackfriars Street from Woolmanhill that there was born in 1810 Joseph Robertson, who became the most noted antiquary of his day, the most accomplished that Aberdeen has produced." This would suggest that Robertson's birthplace is one of the buildings on the left.

This image featured in the Evening Express' 'Flashback' feature from 12th January 1985, page 12. The accompany information states "Joseph Robertson, an eminent historian and one time editor of the 'Aberdeen Observer' was born at 37 Woolmanhill - the tall building in the foreground of our picture - in 1810." This slightly vague description could refer to the building on the right of the image or perhaps to the first tall building on the left side of the road. The latter would accord better with other references. Additionally, the buildings on the right were known as Black's Buildings.

The above reference to "37 Woolmanhill" may initially suggest a confusion of 73 Woolmanhill, but the former is not without precedent. In Historical Aberdeen (1905), within an informative chapter on Woolmanhill, G. M. Fraser writes the following on page 149:

"Then hardly less remarkable, either in historical knowledge, or general scholarship, was Dr. Joseph Robertson, whose name appears so frequently in these pages, born in the unpretending house, still standing, No. 37 Woolmanhill. It is strange that in Aberdeen there is no public memorial of this distinguished man."

If 37 Woolmanhill is the correct address, 1950s Ordnance Survey mapping, which includes building numbers, suggests the relevant house may be the one in the centre of this image, of those on left, in the middle distance, just after the building marked as a tea warehouse.
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