ABERDEEN CIVIC SOCIETY Newsletter No. 48: December 2004 Coming Events Wednesday 24th November 2004: The Cockburn Association and Sir Patrick Geddes: Their Contribution to Edinburgh; talk by Mr David McDonald, Chairman of the Cockburn Association. Atholl Hotel, King’s Gate, 7.30 for 8 pm. Wednesday 26th January 2005: New Architectural Requirements in Modern Building; talk by Mr Gocay Devici, Lecturer in Architecture at the Scott Sutherland school of Architecture, RGU. Atholl Hotel, 7.30 for 8 pm. Wednesday 23rd February 2005: The Trials and Tribulations of A Private Developer; talk by Mr Bill Bruce, Chairman of Scotia Homes. Atholl Hotel, 7.30 for 8. Planning Matters Woodside: FirstGroup, Britain’s biggest bus operator and second-largest rail company, is to build its new global headquarters in Aberdeen, creating about 140 jobs in the city. Their preferred site, for both head office and a new bus depot to replace that at King St, is the playing field at Woodside, long owned by Aberdeen Lads’ Club. This is a greenfield site, close to the traffic- choked Haudagain roundabout. The proposal constitutes a departure from the Local Plan and a public hearing is anticipated. The final decision will fall to the Scottish Executive. Cults, Friarsfield Rd: a proposal for the erection of a new Cults Academy. The present Cults Academy site would then become available for residential development. No decision should be made before the Local Plan is finalised. Pinewood, Countesswells Rd: ACC has backed a proposal for 123 family-sized houses at Pinewood, designated as Green Belt land in the 1991 Local Plan but as a ‘Housing Opportunity’ site in the new Local Plan, which has yet to be formally adopted. The proposal will now have to be approved by the Scottish Executive because it departs from Green Belt policy and because the Pinewood site is part-owned by ACC. No. 231 Springfield Rd: a proposal for a residential development involving the demolition of the two existing properties and the creation of ten semi-detached town houses of 2-3 storeys. Queen’s Cross: a proposal by Esson Properties Ltd for the demolition of the present petrol station and office block and the erection of a new office block, in line with Fountainhall Rd. 2 No. 2 Albyn Place: a proposal for internal alterations and change-of-use to create a restaurant with pub licence. No. 1 Bon Accord Square: a proposal for conversion to seven flats; no external alterations. No. 1 Union Terrace, the Monkey House: a proposal for conversion of the upper floors of this splendid Cat. A listed Neo-Renaissance building into five apartments. We would specify that there be no alterations to the windows on the Union St and Union Terrace frontages. No. 251 Union St: a proposal for conversion of the upper floors, empty for many years past, into flats. No external alterations to this Cat. B listed building are proposed. No. 269 Union St: the Scottish Executive’s Reporter has overturned ACC’s rejection of the proposal by PB Developments to convert the present Waterstone’s, formerly Dillon’s, bookshop, next to the Langstane Kirk, into a pub and café-bar to the rear, with a small shop fronting on to Union St. PB Developments recently won approval from ACC to convert the adjacent Langstane Kirk into a bar/diner, restaurant and casino, the last involving a 5 am drinks licence. ACC’s new Local Plan states that ‘clustering’ of licensed premises should be avoided where they are likely to cause loss of amenity to local residents. Nos. 419-21 Union St: a proposal by Albatross Leisure for change-of-use and conversion to a pub. This is the former sports shop, just eastwards of the Justice Mills pub and the former Capitol Theatre; pubs, clubs and bars, end-to-end! Pedestrianisation: ACC has abandoned its proposal to divert buses through the Green, originally envisaged at the rate of 30 per hour. But where are these buses to go now? Elsewhere, ACC now proposes a transitional ‘partial pedestrianisation’ of the relevant mid-section of Union St, effective from 2010, whereby buses and taxis are to be allowed through but private cars would be excluded. Full pedestrianisation is to follow at an unspecified later date, once adjacent roads and links between the projected ‘Union Square’ development at Guild St and the city centre have been upgraded. Much of the thinking behind this follows on from the planners’ vision of a ‘north-south axis’ of retail activity, extending from John Lewis’ and the Bon-Accord Centre through the St Nicholas Centre and down Market St to ‘Union Square’ by Guild St. But the main focus of retail activity in Aberdeen is likely to remain where it always has been, i.e., along the line of St Nicholas St/George St. The proprietors of the Bon-Accord and St Nicholas Centres intend to conjoin their two malls across Schoolhill/Upperkirkgate and otherwise to expand their activities, quite possibly eastwards on to the projected ‘Civic Square’, being the site presently occupied by St Nicholas House. The ‘north-south axis’ of retail activity is certainly not an observable reality at present. There is nothing of significance going on southwards of Union St, and, with the exception of (decades ago) the Green, there never has been. When business activity has so conspicuously failed to evolve in a given location over such an extended period of time, it is reasonable to surmise that there must be some fairly compelling reason as to why. The main reason is that of the gradient; the natural north-south descent from St Nicholas Kirk to the harbour, compounded by the east-west superimposition of the main thoroughfare of Union St at an elevation some 20-50 feet above ground level. Most people will not choose to walk back, carrying their shopping, up Bridge St or Market St, or through the Green 3 and up the Back Wynd stairs or up Correction Wynd. Beyond that, the simple fact is that many people, perhaps women in particular, find the harbour and its environs uncongenial. It is argued that many shoppers will access the Guild St development by train or bus, given its proximity to the railway and bus stations. We may suspect that people who go to the trouble and expense of coming into Aberdeen by rail or bus do so in order to experience ‘Aberdeen’, in the sense of the historic city-centre, rather than an edge-of-town retail complex. Despite its confusing and inappropriate name, the projected ‘Union Square’ is a long way removed from the real epicentre of retail activity in Aberdeen, which is likely to remain where it has always been, at or around the junction of Union St and St Nicholas St. The Civic Society’s Annual Awards Ceremony, 2004. Our Annual Awards took place as usual in the impressive surroundings of the Town and County Hall, on Wednesday 13th October. The evening went well, with James Roy’s slide presentation being characterised, as always, by excellence of photography, composition and perpetual blue skies. We began with a run-though of the nominations the Sub-Committee had looked at, but had decided to reject for one reason or another. This year, we had a fourth category. Our President, David Paton, in conversation with members of the Executive Committee, had commended the efforts of Mr Bill Glennie of Dyce in his works of conserving various interesting architectural artefacts which he has incorporated into an extension of his house in Victoria St. One of the best-known ‘survivors’ is the spire which formerly graced the hall of Morningfield Hospital. It was decided that we should have a new category of ‘Special Mention’, which went to Mr Glennie and his architect, Mr Bill Michie of George Watt & Stewart. A ‘Mention’ went to Aberdeen City Council and the proprietors of Marine Terrace for the new paving and Heritage Lighting on that street which, had it ever been completed, would have been Aberdeen’s finest piece of street architecture. It is a roadway partly owned by the proprietors and the pavement was previously comprised of a mixture of granite slabs, concrete slabs and, in some parts, just compacted soil. It is now worthy of the status of the architecture of the Terrace. The other ‘Mention’ was given to The Justice Mill public house, owned by J. D. Wetherspoon, for the new façade to Justice Mill Lane. Here, a bright new granite wall with recessed doorway and a large window feature has enhanced this busy but neglected backwater of Union St. The architects were Tuffin, Ferraby & Taylor. The one Commendation this year was given to Scotia Homes and Canale Associates for their development at the former Earl’s Court Hotel. The original house has been shorn of all its later and inappropriate extensions and restored to something of its original splendour; while the ground previously occupied by the extensions is now the site of the new flats, where the style and materials of the original building have been reflected in a most satisfactory manner. There were three full Awards this year, as follows: Aberdeen Business Park, Dyce: Morley Fund Management and their agents, 3D Architects of Glasgow, have created a development of offices which are distinguished by design with a particular emphasis on the proportion of wall to window and the sensitive use of materials, in many cases cleverly integrated into the overall framework of the facades. The Business Park is 4 on a commercial/industrial site where design of this quality stands out and adds much to the ambience of the area surrounding the Airport. The Porsche Centre, East Tullos: at one time, the East Tullos Industrial Area was a place where developments simply ‘happened’. West Tullos, on the other side of Wellington Rd, was the place where better design was expected. But since the advent of North Sea Oil and the appearance of several national concerns on the east side, things have changed! A well- established local company, Town and County, and their agents Albyn Design, have contributed to this improvement with their new Porsche Centre at Greenwell Rd. A striking façade bearing the legend ‘PORSCHE’ greatly enhances this important site on the south-east approaches to the city. The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre: this was a large complex of buildings serving a useful purpose but with no great pretensions to design or to the importance of the Centre in promoting the City of Aberdeen. But this is now a thing of the past. The recent works of redevelopment and expansion at the hands of the centre’s architects, Mackie, Ramsay & Taylor, have unified the group of formerly unrelated elements with stunning entrance features and an impressive tower. The Centre now makes an exhibition of itself, which can only enhance its purpose! Thanks are due to all who assisted in achieving yet another very successful Awards Ceremony. In the usual ‘post-mortem’ discussion, the Executive Committee has debated the idea of having an Awards presentation every two years instead of annually as at present. We would welcome members’ views on this. The Awards Sub-Committee and the like need an infusion of new personnel and fresh ideas from time to time. The present Chairman has imposed his thinking on the Sub-Committee for about seven years now and has let it be known that this would be his last Awards Ceremony in charge of proceedings. The Executive Committee would be grateful to receive any suggestions for a successor! Nominations, volunteers etc, to Mike Hewitt, our Hon. Secretary. Contributed by Norman Marr. ‘Lost Aberdeen’ by Diane Morgan Lost Aberdeen is a handsomely illustrated new book by Diane Morgan, in which the author investigates the history and fate of numerous city buildings which had considerable architectural and historic value, but which are now regrettably gone. The first chapters take us through the early township, from the Green to the Gallowgate, charting the disappearance of the medieval townscape. In more modern times, Diane traces the evolution and then the gradual erosion of the Granite City, whose stylish but restrained architecture once brought visitors from all over the world to see an Aberdeen which they recognised and valued as an unique city. She writes of George St, originally planned as ‘an elegant entrance to the city’, and of Union St, a marvel of early 19th century engineering of stunning symmetry, elegant terraces and memorable shops. There is a requiem for Archibald Simpson’s splendid New Market and the sadly missed Northern Co-operative Society Arcade. The final part of Lost Aberdeen recalls vanished mansions and lost clachans, victims of the city’s westward advance. Diane Morgan is an Aberdonian born and bred. She writes with the same fresh approach to local history, combining scholarship with accessibility, that has made her Villages Of Aberdeen so successful a series. After graduating from the universities of Aberdeen and Cambridge, she taught Law, freelanced for local and national media and, in 1974, founded Aberdeen’s quality 5 monthly, Leopard Magazine. She sold this title in 1988 and embarked on her series of popular histories, The Villages Of Aberdeen, covering those areas of the city that once had a distinctive identity. Diane Morgan is a Burgess of Aberdeen and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Lost Aberdeen is published by Birlinn @ £16.99, hardback. Slains Castle and The Hays of Erroll Part Three of Three The following narrative is complicated by the fact that both lead female characters were named Diana, being Lord (Joss) Erroll’s daughter, Diana Denyse Hay, and his lover, Diana Broughton. The murder in 1941 of Jocelyn Victor Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll, at the age of 39, served to confirm the image of Kenya as a playground for aristocratic ne’er-do-wells and remittance men, characterised by drink and drug abuse, wife-swapping and orgies; hence the contemporary joke: “Are you married, or do you live in Kenya?” The reputation of the white-settler community in Kenya was destroyed by the murder and the ensuing scandal. The mystery as to who had killed Joss Erroll (as he was known) has remained much discussed in Kenya ever since and has been the subject of several books, the latest of which was published as recently as 2000; also of the cinema film White Mischief, made in 1989. Joss Erroll was born in London on 11th May 1901, and given a Protestant christening. His brother Gilbert was born in Brussels in January 1903, and his sister Rosemary in Vienna in May 1904. Joss attended Eton College, but was expelled in 1916. He entered the Foreign Office and was posted to Berlin as Private Secretary to the British Ambassador in January 1920. The clique which became known as the “Happy Valley Set” was first encountered in Paris, that same year, where Joss met Idina Gordon, a twice-married mother of two, of some notoriety and eight years his senior. She was awaiting her divorce from her second husband, the Hon. Charles Gordon of Park Hill in Aberdeen. Divorced persons were not then accepted at Court, nor at Ascot. The Foreign Office would never have kept Joss on as Idina’s husband. Lord Kilmarnock, Joss’s father, begged and pleaded with him not to marry Idina. But, in the event, the two were married, in a London registry office in September 1923. Joss’ family were not present, having been neither informed nor invited. Idina’s divorce settlement had included half her ex-husband’s estate in Kenya, so she and Joss moved there. Joss and Idina had one child, Diana Denyse Hay, nicknamed Dinan, born 5th January 1926. Afterwards, Joss and Idina drifted apart. They divorced in 1930. Their daughter Diana, aged five, was sent home to England to be brought up by her mother’s sister in Wiltshire. Joss then had an affair with a married woman, Molly Ramsey-Hill, nine years his senior. Her husband, Major Ramsey-Hill, horsewhipped Joss outside Nairobi railway-station in full view of a mixed crowd of passengers. The ensuing Ramsey-Hill divorce case resulted in seriously adverse publicity and critical comment, but Molly received a generous settlement, leaving her a rich woman. She and Joss were married in London in February 1930. Lord Kilmarnock had died in February 1928, and Joss succeeded as the 22nd Earl of Erroll. Molly, who changed her name to Mary, became Countess of Erroll. She developed serious addictions to alcohol and morphine, went into a prolonged decline and died, aged 47, in October 1939. In 1933, Joss joined the British Union of Fascists, being much influenced by its leader, his old friend Sir Oswald Mosley. Joss remained active in the B.U.F. for some years. He officiated as 6 Hereditary High Constable of Scotland at the Coronation of King George VI on 12th May 1937, following the Abdication of another of his old friends, the ‘Uncrowned King’, Edward VIII, in December 1936. The principal suspect for the murder of Joss Erroll remains Jock Delves Broughton, who arrived in Kenya in 1940 with his young wife, Diana. He was 57; she was 26. Back in 1919, Broughton had inherited a title and estates in Doddington, Cheshire and in Staffordshire, worth about £250 million in present-day money. He ran through his inheritance at a great rate, selling huge expanses of prime Cheshire farmland in order to finance his gambling and otherwise extravagant lifestyle. He met Diana in 1935, then a young woman of 22, of the type then known as an adventuress. She led a hectic life, dancing, hunting and flying her own aeroplane to social engagements all over Europe. Broughton’s first wife, Vera, divorced him in 1939. He proposed marriage to Diana and they left England for Kenya, where he owned property, partly so as to escape the restrictions of wartime Britain. He made a then unusual type of contract with Diana to the effect that, were she to fall in love with a younger man, he would not stand in her way; and he promised her an income of £5,000 p.a. for at least seven years after any divorce. They married in South Africa in November 1940. Broughton and Joss Erroll were friends of long standing, and they lunched together at the Muthaiga Club in Nairobi – the focus of social life for the white community – most days of the week. Joss Erroll and Diana fell in love. As Broughton said later, when two people find each other supremely desirable, there is nothing to be done but to give in or run away. It was wartime, and Broughton had nowhere to run to. He and Diana had been married for less than two months. On 18th January 1941, Joss Erroll, Diana, Broughton and a woman friend named June (Lady) Carberry had lunch at the Muthaiga Club. Afterwards, they went on to Erroll’s house where he and Broughton discussed the situation man-to-man. Broughton seemed to accept the inevitable with good grace. A celebration dinner was arranged for the evening of the 23rd. Broughton told Diana she had nothing to worry about; he intended to spend two months in Ceylon, then to return to England. But he hoped she would stay with him, for appearance’s sake, until he left the Colony. He made Joss promise to bring her home before 3 am. At the dinner-party, Broughton proposed a toast to Diana and Erroll, wishing them every happiness and that their union would soon be blessed with an heir. Diana and Erroll left the Club at 10.15 pm. Broughton and June Carberry got very drunk. They went on to a party, then returned to Broughton’s house about 2 am. Diana was driven home by Erroll about 2.30 am, after which Erroll’s car was heard to depart. At about 6.30 am, Erroll’s Buick saloon was found by two Africans, tipped half-over into a ditch, its headlights full-on, but with the ignition switched off. Erroll had fallen, whether slumped or pushed, into the front-passenger footwell of the car; there was a bullet-wound just behind his right ear. The police failed to dust the car for fingerprints, for no known reason. The evidence from the body was that death had occurred about 3 am. Broughton was the prime suspect for Erroll’s murder, mainly on the basis of motive, but there was also some forensic evidence against him. The police had found a bonfire, still burning, in Broughton’s garden; on the bonfire was a bloodstained golf-stocking. Broughton was finally arrested on 10th March, seven weeks after the murder, and remained in prison for three months before the case came to trial. His wife Diana and her friend June Carberry came to see him every day. 7 The case against Broughton was essentially the contention, based on the bullet removed from Erroll’s brain, that the murder weapon must have been a Colt .32 pistol. Broughton was known to have owned two such pistols; he had reported them stolen three days before Erroll’s murder, which was regarded as a clumsy device to deflect suspicion, and as indicating that the murder was pre-meditated. The corresponding gun-cartridges had been found in Broughton’s house, charged with black gunpowder of a type not manufactured since before the Great War. There had been marks of this same powder surrounding the bullet wound on Erroll’s head. What the Crown Prosecutor could not do was to explain how Broughton was supposed to have got out of his house unobserved, or what had happened between then and Erroll’s death. The fatal bullet had been fired at very close range – about 18 inches. The murderer must have been standing on the running-board of the car, or sitting inside next to Erroll, whose body had then been pushed off the driving-seat to allow the car to be driven off the road. The car ignition had been switched off by hand; the lights were left on because the switch was damaged and could be operated only with pliers, found in the glove-box. Broughton, if he were the murderer, would then have had to walk 2.4 miles home in the dark, difficult for a man with a gammy leg, and then to re-enter his house unobserved. Broughton’s only alibi was that provided by June Carberry; that they had arrived at Broughton’s house around 2 am, and that Broughton had called in on her at 3.30 am, to “check she was all right”. Diana’s dog had been heard to bark loudly around this time; perhaps because it heard Broughton enter the house? Much of Broughton’s subsequent behaviour had struck the police as suspicious, and there was the business of the bloodstained golf-stocking in the bonfire and the black gunpowder. In the event, the defence managed to discredit or undermine the forensic evidence – mainly by blinding the jury with complicated ballistic science - and to create a degree of doubt as to whether the fatal bullet had, in fact, been fired from a Colt .32 pistol, such as that known to have been owned by Broughton. There had been no eye-witnesses to the crime; and no-one had seen Broughton enter or leave the house. Broughton had a damaged right hand and leg, suffered from night-blindness and was a notoriously bad driver. It was argued that he physically could not have heaved Erroll’s body into the front-passenger footwell, could not have driven Erroll’s car the required distance off the road; and that he could not have walked the 2.4 miles along the rough dirt road from his house to the crossroads and back again within the available time-span, i.e., between 2 am and 3.30 am. Beyond that, Broughton had no certain knowledge that Joss would honour his promise to bring Diana back by 3 am. Broughton might have been left waiting for hours, in a territory where lions and other predators were known to prowl. Others argued that Broughton was nowhere near such a broken-down old wreck as he made out, and that Erroll might have managed to drive the car some distance before he collapsed, slumping into the passenger footwell by himself. Two bullets were found, of which the first had gone wide. Erroll might have been able, after that first, missed shot to get the car into gear and moving forward. Death would have been instantaneous once the second bullet entered his brain, but the car might well have lumbered on for some time before veering towards the ditch and being brought to a halt. Murderers, of course, often incriminate themselves by confession or boasting, by a compulsion to show off. But Broughton never confessed, despite being held in prison for three months; he seemed throughout to be fully confident that he would be acquitted. Others detected a kind of indifference; that he was past caring what happened to him. 8 The jury seemed to have given up. The local police officers had failed to collect basic evidence and had difficulty making progress with this clique of decadent aristocrats, most of whom had been too drunk to remember much about anything or otherwise had reason to be evasive about their own whereabouts and actions. Broughton was by no means the only suspect. Quite a few people were considered to have a sufficient motive to kill Joss Erroll. One theory was that Diana herself was the murderer, that Joss had tried to end their affair and that she had shot him in a fury. The investigation dragged on interminably because standard procedure in the days of Empire was that everything had to be referred back to London. A guilty verdict would mean that Broughton would hang; he would be the first white man to suffer judicial execution in Kenya. There was a sufficient area of doubt in the minds of the jury for Broughton to be declared Not Guilty. Broughton expected to be welcomed back into the white community in Kenya. Instead, he and Diana were shunned and ostracised, for having brought the Colony into disrepute. They were banned from the Muthaiga Club. Broughton decided to return to England, although he had almost no money left and was under investigation for fraud in relation to the family estate; he had sold huge expanses of land belonging to a Family Trust, land which was not his to sell, and had put the money into his own pocket. He arrived in Liverpool in November 1942. After spending some time living quietly in Cheshire, he returned to Liverpool on Wednesday 2nd December, booked into the Adelphi Hotel and gave instructions that he was not to be disturbed until Sunday. Once in his room, he injected himself with morphine. He was found alive, but in an irreversible coma, and died on 5th December. Diana remained in Kenya. She married a hugely wealthy local eccentric named Gilbert Colville in January 1943, one month after Broughton’s suicide. Colville was about the same age as Broughton, i.e., some thirty years older than Diana. He purchased, as a present for Diana, the house formerly belonging to her murdered ex-lover, Joss Erroll, known then and now as Slains. In 1955, Diana divorced Colville to marry their mutual friend, Tom Delamere, later Lord Delamere. When Colville died, he left Diana his entire fortune, then about £2.5 million. Diana, Lady Delamere, became by far the richest and most powerful woman in Kenya, in effect Queen of the white settler community, and remained so until her death in 1987. On Joss’ death in 1941, his daughter Diana Denyse Hay, then aged fifteen, became the 23rd Countess of Erroll. In December 1946 she married Sir Iain Moncreiffe. They had three children, being Merlin, Peregrine and Alexandra. Joss’ younger brother, Gilbert Hay, deputised as Lord High Constable of Scotland at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, which Diana also attended. Gilbert had succeeded Joss as the 6th Baron Kilmarnock in 1941. (Remember: the Earldom of Erroll can descend via the female line; the Barony of Kilmarnock cannot.) In the 1950s, Diana purchased Old Slains Castle and built within its ruined outer shell a modern house for herself and her family. She and Sir Iain Moncreiffe divorced in 1964. In the same year, Diana married Major Raymond ‘Sacha’ Carnegie by whom she had a fourth child, Jocelyn, in 1966. They lived in Crimonmogate, an imposing Archibald Simpson house near Lonmay, some miles north of Slains. Diana, 23rd Countess of Erroll, died in 1978, aged 52. Her eldest son, Merlin Hay, born 1948, became the 24th Earl. As Earl of Erroll, Merlin Hay is the Hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland and comes first in the order of precedence, before all other dukes, earls etc, being the First Subject in Scotland after those of the Blood Royal. But, through force of circumstance, he and his family live in Hampshire, and not at Slains Castle, their ancestral pile on the Buchan coast. 9 Contributed by Alex Mitchell. Disclaimer The articles in these Newsletters, as on our website, are intended to stimulate discussion and debate. They reflect the opinions of the individual contributors, some of whom may occasionally like to play ‘Devil’s Advocate’. The views expressed need not be regarded as representing the settled position of Aberdeen Civic Society. All articles are copyright of the individual contributors, whether named or otherwise. Check out our website on the Beehive Community Web at: http://beehive.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk.
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