Local History - Aberdeen Harbour

The harbour has for long been important to Aberdeen. Today it is essential for the many people who work in the oil and gas industries. Oil and gas production came to Aberdeen during the 1970s. The harbour which stands today grew over the centuries from a natural harbour created by the estuary of the River Dee.

The harbour has been developed over many centuries to make the shallow and sandy area suitable for boats and ships. Gradually harbour docks and piers were built. The harbour still has a very narrow channel for ships to enter and leave. Ships have to be guided in and out of the harbour by the pilot boat.

Its earliest use would have been for importing (e.g. timber) and exporting goods (e.g. fish) between Aberdeen and the Baltic countries and northern Europe. Norway has exported timber to the north of Scotland through Aberdeen harbour for centuries. The wood was being used in building and papermaking. Fishing has long been an important local export until the later 20th century. Shipbuilding is another industry, once major and now disappeared from here.

Entrance to Aberdeen Harbour by James Cassie Regent Bridge and Dock, 1930s
  1. Look at a map of Aberdeen harbour today. Work out the distance between the harbour and where you live?
  2. At one time Aberdeen was the country's leading white fish port. Now only a small number of trawlers are registered in Aberdeen. Overfishing has led to limits on vessels and catches so the number of fishing vessels has reduced. It is important to conserve fish stocks in the sea. Think of 3 reasons why it is important.
  3. Today, the oil and gas industry is now the City's most important industry. Oil and gas give us energy. Can you think of some ways to conserve energy?