Banff

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Many thanks to The Spotty Bag Shop for facilitating this camera's location and to Aberdeenshire Council for capitally funding its installation in partnership with The Deveron Bogie & Isla Rivers Charitable TrustBanff's first castle was built to repel Viking invaders and a charter of 1163 AD shows that Malcolm IV was living there at that time. During this period the town was a busy trading centre in the "free hanse" of Northern Scottish burghs, despite not having its own harbour until 1775. The first recorded Sheriff of Banff was Richard de Strathewan in 1264, and in 1372 Royal Burgh status was conferred by King Robert II, who had a established a Carmelite priory near Banff in 1321. (The priory was destroyed by arson in 1559). By the 15th century Banff was one of three principal towns exporting salmon to the continent of Europe, along with Aberdeen and Montrose. There was a great deal of lawlessness in seventeenth-century Scotland, and some of the worst offenders were members of the nobility. According to records kept by historian William Cramond, the tolbooth (courthouse and prison) of Banff was, in 1628, the site of an altercation between Lord Banff and James Ogilvie, his relative. Reportedly, he struck James Ogilvie upon the head with a baton during a court hearing. Twenty of his friends and followers then attacked Ogilvie with swords before chasing him into the street and finishing him off with a pistol shot. Banff and Macduff are separated by the valley of the River Deveron. This unpredictable river was finally tamed by the seven arched bridge completed in 1779 by John Smeaton. An earlier bridge had been built in 1765, but was swept away in 1768. The old ferry was brought back into use, until it was lost in a flood in 1773. A public meeting was held in 1800 and passed a resolution for the building of a turnpike road between Turiff and Banff as the existing road was in a sad state of repair. Later 19th century transport improvements included the building of two railway lines, from Macduff to Turiff in 1860 and the Banff, Portsoy and Strathisla Railway in 1859 which connected to the main Aberdeen to Inverness line. During the 19th Century the Banff Fishery District (comprising the ports from Crovie to Sandend) was important to the herring trade, with production peaking in 1853 at more than sixty-thousand barrels, of which nearly thirty-four thousand were exported; however, by 1912 production had declined to just over eight thousand barrels. Currently, the languages spoken in the town and in its vicinity tend to be the Doric dialect of Scots, and English. Banff Bridge This attractive seven-arch segmental masonry bridge, with spans of 50 ft, carries the road between Macduff and Banff over the Deveron. It was the last of three large bridges in Scotland designed and built under the direction of John Smeaton who, in 1772, estimated its cost at £4548 14s 11d. The lowness of this figure was contributed to by ‘excellent rubble stone’ available ‘from a quarry very near the bridge’. Construction took seven years and it was completed in 1779. A contemporary drawing shows the piers founded on short timber piles. The roadway of Smeaton’s bridge was originally 18 ft wide between parapets but in 1881 the bridge waswidened on both sides by the removal of the parapet walls and the construction of conjoined segmental arches of larger radius. The decorative occuli used in the masonry of the spandrel walls of Smeaton’s bridge and the parapets were re-used. John Willet acted as the engineer for this work.