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26-30, Union Street, Aberdeen

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Other Name(s)
Esslemont and Mackintosh (Former)
26-30, Union Street, Aberdeen
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NJ 9431 0632
Location Type
HS Reference No


Part of a department store with principal elevation to Union Street (S) comprising 2 buildings on corner sites with linking corridor at 3rd storey over St Catherine's Wynd. To right (Nos 26-30); Classical, 4-storey and attic 5 bay. To left, (Nos 32-38) Freestyle, 5-storey and attic, 4 bay. Grey granite ashlar; tooled, coursed granite to rear. String courses, cill courses. Flat-roofed canopy above ground to Union Street (S) and Broad Street (E) elevations; that to Broad Street with later (1870s) harled extension above. Some windows with original canopy blinds.

These well-detailed buildings by local architects Ellis & Wilson are a distinctive part of the streetscape of the major thoroughfare of Union Street. The building to the left (Nos 32-38) uses a variety of architectural detailing from diverse architectural styles. This Freestyle which draws on many Northern European architectural details was a popular architectural style for commercial buildings at the end of the 19th century.

Planned in the 19th century as the major thoroughfare in an increasingly wealthy and confident city, Union Street was a bold and confident project which required major engineering to complete.

Esslemont and Macintosh were one of Aberdeen's oldest department stores. It was founded in 1873 by Peter Esslemont, a Lord Provost of the city and originally traded at premises on Broad Street.

The building to the right, Nos 26-30 Union Street were originally built as offices for the Aberdeen newspaper, the Daily Free Press. When they amalgamated with the Aberdeen Journal in 1924, Esslemont bought the property. 32-38 Union Street was the home of Sangster and Henderson, drapers and house furnishers. They went out of business in 1926 and Esslemont and MacIntosh moved into this property, selling their property on Broad Street to the Council.

Alexander Ellis and Robert Wilson were Aberdeen architects who were in practice together from 1869-1896 when Ellis died. They worked extensively in and around Aberdeen and their output included, in the main, houses, churches and other large office buildings. Wilson continued to work after Ellis' death. (Historic Scotland)
Building Dates
1892; later additions
Ellis & Wilson

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
The adjacent building is not included in the risk record.
Field Visits
29/11/2012, 05/03/2019
Development History
24 April 2007: BBC News reports famous city store set to close.
23 October 2009: CBRE News reports CB Richard Ellis (Scotland) have been instructed to market 26-38 Union Street on behalf of C&L Properties.
29 November 2012: External inspection finds the building, currently connected to the adjacent building by a high level walkway, vacant and being advertised for lease through agent CBRE. It is in fair general condition though there are growths of vegetatation on the first floor canopy. Listed Building Consent for development of former Esslemont and Macintosh department store into a hotel with retail units at ground and lower ground levels was conditionally approved Sept 2008 ref: 081135. The Esslemont and Mackintosh department store is understood to have closed around 2007.
8 December 2014: Listed Building Consent for conversion to hotel use with restaurant is being sought ref: 141634.
15 June 2015: STV News website reports developer Castlecall will not be proceeding with a plan to convert the property into a hotel, citing concerns that occupancy levels within Aberdeen's hospitality sector are continuing to drop in reaction to uncertainty in the oil and gas sector.
12 December 2017: A member of the public advises the ground floor is under conversion to form a restaurant.
5 March 2019: External inspection finds the building in much the same condition as seen previously. In overall Fair condition but upper floors remain boarded and disused.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Union Street
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
01224 522246


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Unverified see FAQ on ascertaining ownership
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Online Resources
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit