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Doctors & pharmacists

In the 19th Century medical care had to be paid for, so people who could afford the fees to join a friendly society or buy medical insurance would be covered. Those who could not afford to pay depended on handouts under the poor law system.
Two rival groups provided medical care – surgeons and physicians, who could perform operations, and druggists or pharmacists, who could only dispense medicines.
The earliest mention of medical practitioners in the Parish of Marnoch Aberchirder is in the Aberdeen Directory of 1846-47. It lists John Bremner MD (ie a graduate of a medical school) who lived in South Street and Dr Charles Smith who practised at Hazlebrae. Kinnairdy from 1844. By the 1870s Dr Smith was established in Ferniebrae at the west end of South Street.

In 1887 he took on as a partner Dr Alfred Bell Whitton, who was to succeed him in the practice. It was around this time that an extension was added at the rear of the house to accommodate surgery and nurse’s quarters.

Dr Smith moved from Ferniebrae (left, below) to a new home, Kinnairdy Lodge (right, below), at the other end of South Street, in 1900 and died there five years later.





When Aberchirder became a Police Burgh in 1889, Dr Whitton was one of the first Commissioners until, four years later, he was appointed Burgh Medical Officer of Health. In 1907 he became Provost, while being a Captain in the local Volunteers. On the outbreak of the First World War. he joined the RAMC to do service in home training camps, eventually becoming a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 6th Gordons.

The two photographs below show Dr Whitton on his rounds – which incluiued a large rural area – and in milittary uniform.

Meanwhile in 1898 Dr Robert Moir had two old houses demolished and replaced by a splendid two-and-a-half-storey house and surgery, at 78 Main Street. The photographs below show 74 Main Stret (left) with the original houses at the left in the mid-1890sa and (right) with Dr Moir’s house & surgery At No.78.

The earliest mention of druggists in Aberchirder is in the Aberdeen Directory of 1846-47, which lists William Allan, druggist and grocer, Main Street and John Alexander, jun., druggist and agent for the North of Scotland Bank, Main Street. The valuation roll for 1877-78 also lists two – Alexander Allan at 68 Main Street (left, below) and George Geddes at 55 Main Street. (right, below).
By 1892 or earlier Geddes was the sole pharmacist in town, also acting as postmaster. He was succeeded in 1898 by his widow Barbara and in 1907 their son Charles took over the business, which he would run for the next twenty-eight years. Both had a wide range of picture postcards published and the cards below show their names – George, top right on the lefthand card and Charles, lefthand edge on the righthand card.