Immediately to the south of the small bay of Greyhope stands the Girdleness Lighthouse; an erection by which the trade of Aberdeen has been greatly benefited. The Girdleness, from which it takes its name, is a conspicuous promontory of which the Commissioners of the Northern Lights took advantage to erect this monitory beacon: it was lighted up for the first, time on the night of the 15th of October, 1833, and is a lofty, circular tower, built of granite, and crowned with two copper domes, one within the other, in order to prevent the effects which would follow from the condensation of vapour from the heated air of the lamps. The dwelling houses of the keepers are at the bottom of the tower; and a field of considerable extent has been walled in and cultivated for their accommodation. It is on the larboard, or left hand side, as we enter the port, and is known to mariners as a double light, a distinction produced by placing two lights in the same tower, the one above the other. Of these, the lower light is visible in clear weather at the distance of thirteen, and the higher at that of sixteen miles. They are under the charge of two keepers, one of whom mount guard at sunset, and in case of emergency can summon assistance by means of an alarm-bell, placed in the sleeping apartments, which may be rung from the light-room, by means of an air-blast, through tubes laid for that purpose. This edifice, of Incalculable benefit to the cause of humanity, was erected after the design of Robert Stevenson, Esq., and does great honour to his talents. The bay of Greyhope, above-named, is memorable as the scene of many a disastrous shipwreck, particularly that of the Oscar, in which, out of a crew of forty men, only two were saved. This occurred on the 1st of April 1813.
For many centuries after the foundation of Aberdeen, the harbour was nothing more than an open expanse of water, washing the base of the Castle- hill on the north, the rising grounds of Torrie on the south, and communicating with the sea by die narrow and shallow mouth of the river. Of this basin the greater part was left dry at ebb of tide; while several large, but low islands, were never wholly overflowed. The most ancient, and during many years the only erection within the port, was a bidwark extending from the Ship-row southwards, and now known as the Shorearae. Its extremity was called the Quay-head, a name afterwards applied to the wharfs extending from the vicinity of the Trinity Kirk eastward, beyond the present weigh-house. At what time it was built is altogether unknown; but it was in existence in the fourteenth century, and was probably constructed in the preceding age. In 1484, having become ruinous, it was either repaired or rebuilt; and about the same time, beacons for the guidance of ships were erected, and the wreck of a
Spanish galley on the southern shore, which had long obstructed the channel, was removed. In 1512, the quay was again repaired; and in 1526, still further operations because necessary, and a great portion of the wharfs was reconstructed. In 1549, repairs being once more required, a stair was added; and in 1582 a crane was erected. In 1621, two corn-mills were built within flood-mark; and about thirteen years later, a weigh-house, which served also for a custom-house, was erected. In the course of the same century, various other additions were made to the wharf, and several municipal statutes introduced for the better regulation of the port. In 1566, a lighthouse, containing “three great flaming lights, to burn from daylight to daylight, between the first day of September and the last day of March,” was erected on St. Ninian’s Chapel, on the Castle-hull.