Stepping Back In Time

A look back in time as family share their memories of St Fitticks’ as South Kirkhill Farm 

We know many people have strong connections to Torry and firm memories of the areas they grew up and continue to live in but we were amazed when a wonderful email popped into our mailbox to shed some new light on the site we’re currently Cultivating into an Edible Garden.

St Fitticks’ Edible Garden on St Fitticks’ Road was a former council depot but prior was a working family farm and the granddaughter of a former farm tenant got in touch with us to share some of the history.

The farmhouse itself, originating in the post medieval period, is sadly not listed and so we can only guess from records when it may have been first operating. The stonework making up the buildings and walls of the farmstead are of potential interest, with a 1970’s newspaper article suggesting parts may have been pinched from the nearby ruins of St. Fittick’s Church. In addition, a saddle quern stone was located on the south face of the boundary wall, towards its eastern extent. It was probably used for grinding corn, and dates to around AD 500, showing the longevity of farming activity in the locality of St. Fittick’s Church.

Fiona wrote “My Grandparents, Albert and Georgina Corbett were tenant farmers. The Laird was Colonel Davidson of Balnagask House, (my dad was named after his son Captain Alister Davidson). My Grandparents moved into the farm in 1921. They had two daughters Irene and Ethel, also three sons (of which were born at Kirkhill) Bert, Jimmy and Alister. They worked the farm until 1969”.
The working farm had a dairy which would supply milk to most residents in Torry and pictured you can see milk being delivered by two milk boys on Victoria Road, Torry. The milk came from the Kirkhill Dairy, Balnagask, with Fiona’s grandfather, Albert Corbett, pictured on the milk cart who lived and worked on the farm for most of his life.
The golden anniversary of Albert and Georgina Corbett (née Todd) was reported in the Press & Journal of 9th September 1970, page 18. The article explains that the couple had left South Kirkhill Farm, where Albert had farmed for 47 years, the previous year, moving to 28 Leggart Terrace. They met when Georgia, an Aberdonian, moved to Fraserburgh. Albert worked on his family’s nearby farm, called Watermill, and delivered milk to Georgina’s landlady.

 

After marriage, and before moving to Balnagask, the couple lived in Strichen and ran a diary there. The article concludes stating, both aged 71, Albert and his wife had two daughters, named Mrs Irene Smith and Mrs Ethel Douglas, and three sons, Bert, James and Alistair. They also had nine grandchildren.

A family notice from the 10th January 1978 issue of the same newspaper states that Albert B. D. Corbett had died after a short illness, aged 79, the day before. A service was held for him on the 12th of that month at the Aberdeen Crematorium, Hazlehead (West Chapel).

South Kirkhill was located on the south side of Balnagask Road, a bit to the east of Balnagask House and Mains. East Kirkhill was not far to the east, on the other side of St. Fittick’s Road and North Kirkhill was up towards Greyhope Road. Later maps tell us that the original South Kirkhill was demolished by the early 20th century and by the 1950s East Kirkhill had taken its name. None of the residences remain today, the area of North Kirkhill is now part of Balnagask Golf Club and St. Fittick’s Community Garden is now roughly where East (later South) Kirkhill once stood. North Kirkhill used to be the home of the greenkeeper of the golf course.
The site is now being transformed into an Edible Garden for the community and a tree was planted in memory of Fiona’s father and son of Albert Corbett, Alister. If you have any memories or details to share, or want to get involved with the garden please email info@cultivateaberdeen.co.uk.