Before the 20th Century, very few people in country areas travelled any distance, as work went on all year round from dawn to dusk.  When people did move around, they used a network of paths and tracks which in modern times became known as rights of way.  Such goods as were carried, travelled on horseback because carts could not cope with the unsurfaced roads, which turned to mud in wet weather and ruts and potholes in dry weather.

Old road


The bridge on the old track that runs from the end of the Backieley road past Craigiebrae and along to almost Monedie.

From the old maps it appears as though this was the original route from Blacklaw to Marnoch.



Things began to improve in the late 18th Century, however, when landowners and industrialists realised that their incomes would only improve if farm and factory produce could be sent to markets in quantity. So they began to invest in turnpike trusts, which built good quality roads that could be used by heavy carts – and also by stagecoaches which allowed wealthy people at least to travel.



Aberchirder was served by a turnpike road from 1805, when Thomas Shier’s road from Banff to Huntly was built.
Shier decided to take the road along the southern edge of Foggie, and in so doing created South Street – still even now, almost a bypass of the town.
Banff to Huntly Turnpike
The title section of Thomas Shier’s plan for the Banff to Huntly turnpike 1805.
Blacklaw to Cragiebrae
Proposed alternative routes.
Click image to enlarge
Chosen route from Corskie
Turnpike south of Foggieloan.
Click image to enlarge
Westwards from Myreside
Route from Myreside, leading west over River Deveron.
Click image to enlarge
Foggie Bypass
Chosen route from Corskie
Click image for larger map

Traffic paid tolls to use turnpike roads, and you can still see the tollhouses at Bridge of Marnoch and – less easily - at Blacklaw.

Toll House at Bridge of Marnoch
The toll house on the south side of the Bridge of Marnoch
is still easy to identify.
Toll House at Blacklaw
At Blacklaw the toll house has been added to, and at one time was a post office.  In the background are Blacklaw Garage, School and schoolhouse.
Auchintoul Bridge and Lodge

People often mistake the small octagonal house at Bridge of Auchintoul for a tollhouse on account of its shape but it was in fact the lodge at the southern entrance to Auchintoul House.

This scene has hardly changed at all in the 100 years since Gammie of Turriff photographed it for his postcard. The south lodge of Auchintoul House is on the right.

(Pictures courtesy of Bob Peden)

For the next half century, the turnpike roads played their part in keeping traffic on the move.  Then serious competition arrived in the form of railways which could transport goods and people much more cheaply and quickly.  By 1866, turnpike tolls were abolished and the roads were taken over by local authorities.



In North-east Scotland, the Great North of Scotland Railway was founded in 1845 and began to build a track from Aberdeen towards Elgin.  It was not until 1854 that it reached Huntly.  At this time there was great confidence in the future of railways and people rushed to invest in a number of North-east companies that were set up to build branch lines which would connect with the GNSR.  Thus, by the 1870s, Aberchirder was within ten miles of branch line stations at Cornhill, Turriff, Banff and Macduff as well as the main Aberdeen-Inverness line at Huntly.

A GNSR ticket issued in 1904 for a journey from Turriff to Dundee.
Fare - 27p in decimal currency.

1904 train ticket
(Courtesy of Bob Peden)

Train from late 19th Century
GNSR loco no. 45A pulling a train at the Stockton – Darlington railway celebrations in 1925.
This is what trains on the Aberdeen-Inverness line looked like in the late 19th Century.
(The number 48 on the front of the locomotive referred to its place in the cavalcade.)
(Picture Courtesy of LCGB Ken Nunn Collection)


In the second half of the 19th Century all road transport was horse drawn.  The wealthier people had their own carriages – the forerunners of private cars – while others could travel on stagecoaches – the forerunners of motor buses and referred to as omnibuses or buses for short.

The Websters ran the Mill of Auchintoul at the end of the 19th Century. Here, Alexander (aged 13) is in charge of the pony and trap carrying the younger children of the family.  They are (l to r): Elizabeth Webster, Agnes Urquhart Webster, George Webster and Helen Webster. Agnes was later to become the grandmother of James Hay.  Alexander Webster took part in the Battle of the Somme, and later bacame a GP doctor in Fraserburgh.

(Picture courtesy of James Hay)

The Webster Children

The stagecoach from Banff to Huntly carried the mails and its first stop was at Babbie McRobert’s Inn at 16 South Street.  The horses were changed here and the stables still survive in the back garden of the property, now a private house.
16 South Street
16 South Street
Former Stable at Rear of 16 South Street
Former Stable
Stable Interior
Stable Interior

Towards the end of the century, coach services from Aberchirder to Huntly, Turriff and Cornhill were provided by William McMillan who ran his operation from 128 Main Street.  Click this link to view the Stagecoach Timetable.

Note placed in a wall


A note written by William McMillan and placed in a bottle in a wall at the Smiddy at 128 Main Street.  It was discovered by Alan Pirie when he was carrying out some renovation work in 1980.

Click image for full message

 Mill of Auchintoul Stop
(Picture courtesy of James Hay)

Horse bus driven by William McMillan himself, at the Mill of Auchintoul stop.  The carpenter’s shop (now mostly demolished) was owned by Sandy Auld who is standing by the ladder at the rear of the bus, while his son is standing on the anvil and leaning on the wall (far right).  Note the other forms of transport for people and goods.  Photo supplied by James Hay, whose mother Annie was the grand-daughter of Charles Webster, who owned Mill of Auchintoul.

View of Mill of Auchintoul Stop in 2007
The same view in 2007

The same view in 2007 looking from the field across the A97 road.

Carriers provided a goods service between towns, while local deliveries of things such as milk and bakeries were made by horse and cart, or by hand cart.

Morrison the Baker’s horse-drawn delivery cart outside the shop at 3 The Square, c 1910. Postcard by Gibson of Gateshead-on-Tyne.

Further examples of these modes of transport can be seen in the
Transport Picture Gallery.


Morrison's Delivery Cart
 (Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)

Bremner's Handcart
Some of the Bremner family pictured in 1990 with the refurbished company handcart from around the 1920s. Seated is Robert (Bingo) Bremner with grand-daughter Holly Garrett and from left: Willie Bremner, George McIntosh, Robert Bremner and Steven Bremner.
 (Picture courtesy of Mary McKenzie)

Press notice
(Courtesy of Hector Hosie)

Above Right:
Announcement in the Aberdeen Herald and Weekly Free Press that George Hosie of Banff had taken over the carting and hiring service, and hearse, previously run by Isabella Horne at 88 Main Street. George was the grandfather of well known Foggie character Hector Hosie.

Hand Cart, Main Street
A hand cart in Main Street c 1910.
Postcard by Gibson of Gateshead-on-Tyne.
(Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)

Baker's Handcart
Delivery man (possibly Barclay Stewart) with Stewart the Baker's handcart outside the Commercial Hotel in South Street, c1950.
(Picture courtesy of Mary McKenzie)

It is interesting to note that there were what might be termed horse-drawn boy racers in the 19th Century! A typical case in 1887 saw a Portsoy labourer fined 10 shillings after pleading guilty to “in the village of Aberchirder and on the public road between Aberchirder and Cornhill, having driven a horse yoked to a spring cart in a furious and reckless manner to the danger of the passengers.”


Copyright © 2002 – ADCA Aberchirder, North East Scotland.