|Activity||Aberdeen Harbour was the original centre of the town, built partly of local granite. Though there were early problems with sandbars and heavy silting, the harbour was improved by Thomas Telford, amongst others, in the 1800s, and continued to expand to accommodate larger ships. The harbour had originally been managed by the Town Council, and and the powers of the trustees were re-confirmed by the Aberdeen Harbour Act 1810 (50 Geo. III, ch.lxx) though it remained completely in the control of the Town Council. In 1829, under the Aberdeen Harbour Act 1829 (10 Geo.IV, ch.xxxiv), it was transferred to the control of a separate elected trust (although the Town Council element still dominated). In 1843 (by the Aberdeen Harbour Improvement Act 1843: 6 & 7 Vict., ch.lxxii) it was reformed again to comprise the town councillors and twelve elected burgesses as harbour commissioners. In 1868 (under the Aberdeen Harbour Improvement Act 1868: 31 & 32 Vict., ch.cxxxviii) this was modified slightly to include twelve elected harbour ratepayers or owners of large ships, but the Town Council's representation as commissioners continued until 1975. The Aberdeen Harbour Act 1895 (58 & 59 Vict., ch.cxxxvi) repealed previous legislation and re-affirmed the Board's constitution, as well as permitting further harbour improvements, which were carried through over the next few years. |
The Board oversaw changes in the course of the River Dee and the development of the lands of Torry opposite the original harbour during the nineteenth century, acquiring land from the council in return for building a bridge across the river to Torry from the end of Market Street. The harbour was a tidal basin until 1850 when a lock gate was constructed and a second wet dock was constructed: the addition of newly-built fishmarkets around the site encouraged trade from local and foreign ships. The main constituents of the harbour were by this time the Victoria Dock and the Albert Basin. Over the course of twentieth century the harbour was developed to reflect diminishing needs of fishing and increasing needs of oil industry, and changes in freight handling. The Second World War, with the German Blitz, rendered harbours and sea traffic vulnerable and freight trade at the harbour suffered.
In 1960 (under the Aberdeen Harbour Order Confirmation Act 1960: 9 & 10 Eliz. II, ch.i) the harbour was transferred to the Aberdeen Harbour Board and the Town Council's representation on the harbour management was reduced. The oil boom led to a massive restructuring in the 1970s, sponsored by the Harbour Board and by private developers, while at the same time the Cod Wars damaged the fishing industry still further. Today there is still some fish trade around the harbour, though most of the traffic is oil-related. The harbour also supports freight and passenger ferries to the Northern Isles: Albert Basin is mostly used for freight while passenger services operate from Victoria Dock.