Lost shopfronts of Aberdeen remembered

The Rubber Shop on George Street in 1986, where you could buy anything from a tennis ball to a minister's collar. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.
The Rubber Shop on George Street in 1986, where you could buy anything from a tennis ball to a minister's collar. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.
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From the grand department stores that are no more to the shops where everything from a tennis ball to a minister’s dog collar was for sale, the old shops of Aberdeen are being celebrated in a new exhibition.

Window Shopping will take the city back to the golden era of Union Street and the days before the city retail scene was dominated by four separate shopping centres.

M&S on St Nicholas Street. The shops is in the same location but has a radically different frontage and forms part of the St Nicholas Shopping Centre. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

M&S on St Nicholas Street. The shops is in the same location but has a radically different frontage and forms part of the St Nicholas Shopping Centre. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

George Street also features heavily in the show with images of the Rubber Shop - which sold a cornucopia of wares, from toys to religious clothing - sure to strike a chord with many an Aberdonian.

Esslemont and Macintosh, the department store for the well-to-do of the North East for more than 130 years, is also included. It is now a branch of Jamie’s Italian.

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Phil Astley, curator of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, said: “Obviously, Aberdeen has changed quite a bit and a number of shops that feature in the exhibition, including the Rubber Shop, have disappeared.

George Street was a buzzing shopping street in Aberdeen. While it is still  a busy part of the city, it is overshadowed by the nearby Bon Accord shopping centre. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

George Street was a buzzing shopping street in Aberdeen. While it is still a busy part of the city, it is overshadowed by the nearby Bon Accord shopping centre. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

“These photographs are really nice social documents. They are very ordinary pictures but they contain some lovely incidental detail, such as what people are wearing and the cars they are driving.

“The show will be a nice stroll along memory lane for many and the pictures provide a snapshot of how the city was. These photos capture a point in time in quite a nice way.”

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Many of the images, from the 1950s to the 1980s, are previously unpublished and were given to the city archive by Aberdeen’s planning department.

A poster for Isaac Benzies, a George Street department store which was opened in 1894. It was latterly taken over by House of Fraser, which shut the shop in 1986. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

A poster for Isaac Benzies, a George Street department store which was opened in 1894. It was latterly taken over by House of Fraser, which shut the shop in 1986. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

The display also includes images from the Central Library’s local history collection.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council said: “At a time when we have plans to restore Union Street, the photos featured in this exhibition document the fascinating history of our city centre. “

Window Shopping will open at Seventeen, Belmont Street, today (Friday).

Esslemont and Macintosh, Union Street, 1974. Once Aberdeen's greatest department store, the premises is now a Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

Esslemont and Macintosh, Union Street, 1974. Once Aberdeen's greatest department store, the premises is now a Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant. PIC Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

A poster for Norco on George Street from the 1980s. Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

A poster for Norco on George Street from the 1980s. Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.