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Old Aberdeen

The Gibberie Wallie

The Firhill Well once sprang iron rich water from the base of the Little Firhill (removed by sand quarrying in 1860’s - now the location of the University’s heating plant), to the west of College Bounds. In 1721 John Forbes drank some of the spring water, and found it helped his gallstones. The area around the spring was known as the ‘Bog of Sunnyside’, but the water was claimed by local farmers also to have cured various ailments (including asthma, conjunctivitis and stomach pains). In 1798, thanks to public donations, a stone fountain was built to collect the springwater, and the Firhill Road was laid for easier access. The spring’s popularity greatly increased both from pilgrims for its healing powers, and as a meeting place for the young. Wooden seats supplemented the semi-circular stone benching on either side of the wellhead, and the consumption of the water had to be rationed. Between 1815 and 1830 Baubie Courage (infamous for the methods used to enforce her monopoly, and for breaking the Sabbath) sold gingerbread at the springs, which consequently became known as the Gibberie Wallie.

In 1891 Old Aberdeen formed a union with Aberdeen, and water was piped across from the River Dee. The area became urbanised, and allotments were created to the west of Firhill Road, later becoming incorporated into St Machar Sports Ground. In 1937 the Gibberie Wallie was moved to its current location, to make way for a road - which was never built!