Sep 192014

By Bob Smith.

Torry fowk they can tak nae mair
Hairbour extenshuns are hard ti bear
Bey o Nigg gyaan doon the spoot
Quality o life’ll be grim nae doot
Fer ‘ears an ‘ears at Nigg Bay
Fowk enjoyed thersels at play
Watchin the dolphins oot at sea
Or hittin gowf bas aff the tee
Marine an wild life on the brink
Fae sewage warks ye hiv a stink
Hooses they wull lose their price
Yet Torry fowk they are nae mice
They’ll fecht agin the hairbour new
An wint aabody tae pit  their view
“It’s only Torry” ye hear fowk say
Like donkeys- idiots like tae bray
The Torry fowk they hiv a richt
Ti live in peace, nae hemm’t in ticht
Wi industrial hairbours or shitie smell
Their lives becomin a livin hell
So jist stuff the new hairbour plan
Time ti derail the “developmint van”
Afore it blights the hail o Torry
Time its fowk nae mair need worry.

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

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Sep 142014

Nigg2By Suzanne Kelly.

This Monday and Tuesday is your chance to see what’s proposed for Torry’s Nigg Bay: an extension of the industrial harbour into what is now public recreational coastal space and an important wildlife spot.

As per an announcement on Facebook:

“Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Harbour Board and Scottish Enterprise are preparing a Development Framework for Nigg Bay, Altens and East Tullos which will consider the long term development and regeneration opportunities arising as a result of the proposed new harbour at Nigg Bay. We are seeking your opinions on the future development of these areas and are holding a series of public exhibitions at which we would welcome your feedback.

“The next exhibition will be held at Old Torry Community Centre on Monday 15th September 1pm—7pm and Tuesday 16th September 12pm—5pm.

“For further information please contact Aoife Buckley on 0131 220 7777.”

Area residents are already fighting a battle over their poor air quality as the sewerage plant’s stench has spawned its own Facebook page. Nigg Bay is a popular spot with wildlife tourists, who come from all parts of the globe to see Aberdeen’s coastal marine life (dolphins, seals, whales) and bird life (protected species include swans and eider ducks).

Despite indicating they would keep Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly advised of all developments, no one from the Harbour Board has been in touch about this matter.

Potential drawbacks to this scheme include:-

  • Air quality – particulates in the harbour area already exceed EU levels of acceptable pollution, and have done so for some time. Adding more road congestion and more marine pollution to the area will make things worse. The carbon footprint of the new working harbour and the construction of same are wholly opposite to Aberdeen City Council’s plans to reduce our area’s carbon footprint.
  • SSSI status – Nigg Bay is important geologically. The public will not accept further loss of SSSI-protected coastal area in Aberdeenshire.
  • Quality of life for Torry residents – the recent harbour expansion has brought increased road traffic, increased noise (at all hours of the day) and in all probability increased marine and air pollution. Torry residents have already had to sacrifice the historic fishing cottages for the initial harbour; they were recently coaxed into selling coastal land for the benefit of Aberdeen City Council.

In return for that land sale, they were promised the ridiculous ‘gift’ of public lavatory facilities near Victoria Bridge – which the Harbour Board refused to agree to.

  • Biodiversity – the plan to turn unspoilt Nigg Bay into a working harbour will be the death knell for marine, bird and animal life in the area. It is bad enough that the sewage plant was given approval for the stretch of coast south of the Bay, but your plans will damage biodiversity irreparably. I know any plans for expansion will be opposed by conservation, animal welfare and ecological groups and charities.
  • Public recreation – the public enjoy using Nigg Bay all year round. It is not a development opportunity; it is one of the few remaining unspoilt parts of Torry.
  • Other harbours – there are dozens of harbours on mainland Scotland; some are far closer to areas which will require decommissioning services (something mentioned by the Aberdeen Harbour Board as a reason for expansion in its press releases / news stories).

The Scrabster Harbour has been given a Government grant to expand recently, and it is more than able to deal with demand from the growing decommissioning sector. Nigg fabrication yard likewise has facilities in existence suitable for servicing the decommissioning industry.

  • Property values – since economics seem to play such an important part in Aberdeen’s decision-making processes, perhaps the Board can give examples of residential areas where property values have not decreased as a result of this type of expansion.

I for one do not want to see my neighbourhood transformed for health and environmental reasons – but clearly residential property will decrease in value if expansion is approved. No residents, taxpayers or voters will accept this plan.

  • Harbour management – I would like to see the statistics on how many ships use the harbour, which ships are in part at present, etc., but the function on the Harbour Board’s website is currently not working. I am certain it is possible for Aberdeen Harbour to continue to thrive as it is without expansion.

In fact there is a case to make that eventually harbour use will decrease in coming years – competition with other Scottish harbours, changes in energy generation to renewables, and dwindling oil supplies will have an impact. The environment is not to be sacrified for an increase when so many other harbours can also service temporarily increased demands.

  • Leisure cruises are not feasible – the Harbour Board suggests that cruise ships could enter Aberdeen Harbour and/or Nigg Bay. Nigg is of course too shallow. In any event, do we really think Aberdeen’s industrial harbour, crucial for the oil industry, is an appropriate destination for cruises?

I cannot imagine a business case could be made supporting the viability of cruise liner passengers arriving there, staying in Torry and spending money in Torry and the wider city area. If there is any data/case to support the viability of such a move, please forward it.

Potential pluses include more money for the Harbour Board, dock work employment.

Whatever your view, this is your chance to see the plans and make your opinion count.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

May 232014

Christian Allard MSP for the North East of Scotland has praised the work of the North East charity during a debate on Youth Arts Strategy at the Scottish Parliament this week.

Christian Allard MSP for the North East of Scotland

Christian Allard. MSP for the North East of Scotland

Mr Allard hailed Station House Media Unit (SHMU) as one of the core cultural organisations in Aberdeen during his speech debating Scotland’s first-ever youth arts strategy – Time to Shine.

SHMU was set up in 2003 to support residents in the seven regeneration areas of Aberdeen in radio and video production, traditional and online publications, music production and digital inclusion. Successful initiatives have made the organisation a nationally recognised centre of excellence and created models of good practice.

The SNP MSPs comments come as the Scottish Government announced a group of 14-21 year old volunteers will be recruited by Young Scot to give young people a say on the arts opportunities offered across Scotland.

The 15 strong group will be recruited this summer and advise on the implementation of “Time to Shine”, Scotland’s first arts strategy for young people and the opportunities that are offered as part of it.

Christian Allard MSP stated:

“SHMU is at the forefront of community media development in Scotland. They do fantastic work to support marginalised young people through their employability and training arm.

“I have been twice to listen to young people who went through SHMU’s positive transitions employability course. They all made their families very proud and proved that arts, culture and creativity can change young people’s lives for the better.

“That is why the Scottish Government has launched Time To Shine, Scotland’s first Youth Arts Strategy.

“Through this strategy, the SNP is putting the young people of Scotland at the heart of Scotland’s creative future.”

Brian Webb, shmuTRAIN coordinator added:

“We are delighted to have the work we do at shmu praised so highly by MSP Christian Allard in parliament.

“It is a great recognition of the work we do here and a real boost to our young people involved with positive transitions and what they have achieved through our employability training.”

Link to the debate on 14/05/2014, Christian begins speaking at around 30:40

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Aug 012013

With thanks to Stevie Kearney.

A previously under-used Torry sports facility is set for a grand re-opening this weekend thanks to the work of people from the community and the generosity of several local organisations.

This Saturday, August 3rd, from 10am-3pm, Torry Outdoor Sports Centre on Victoria Road will play host to a family fun day featuring football and tennis coaching, bowling demonstrations, kids’ games, live music, refreshments, stalls, raffles and a guest appearance from Angus the Bull.

The project to re-launch the sports space has been pioneered by volunteers from Old Torry Community Centre and they’ve received backing from many local groups, including Sport Aberdeen, Aberdeen Football Club, Dee Football Club, Tennis Scotland, Station House Media Unit and local Police.

A generous donation for tennis equipment was provided by PK Hydraulics Ltd, which has paid for high-quality new racquets, balls and training equipment.

The space – which includes two bowling greens and a multi-purpose all-weather area with three tennis courts and a football pitch – is a community facility but has not been widely used in recent times. The fun day aims to get Torry locals along to help launch a new programme of sports and social events every night of the week, with everybody welcome.

Angus the Bull will be there for the opening at 10am but needs to leave at 10:30 for his match day duties at Pittodrie, so parents are encouraged to bring kids down early. Aberdeen FC have also donated a strip and football, signed by Dons forward Niall McGinn.

David Fryer, of Old Torry Community Centre, said:

“We have organised this special fun day so that folk can take advantage of the facilities that are close at hand, try a sport for the first time with a coach, join in a friendly game or just relax and watch others having some fun.”

“We greatly appreciate the helping hands of Sport Aberdeen, Tennis Scotland, Aberdeen Football Club, PK Hydraulics, Dee Football Club, Station House Media Unit, local bowlers, and from many folk in Torry in making this all happen.”

Nigel Spencer, Outdoor Services Manager at Sport Aberdeen, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Old Torry Community Centre on this project and hopefully some good weather will help make for a very successful re-launch of the Torry Outdoor Sports Centre”.

Football coaching and matches take place from 10am to 12 noon, with tennis coaching for all ages from 1pm – 3pm. There will be live music at 12 noon from local singer-songwriter Alana Wyness.

For more information, you can find Old Torry Community Centre on Facebook, or email

Aug 012013

Oil And Glass Gallery and Workshop invite you to the opening night of New Grads ’13, an exhibition by selected 2013 graduates of Gray’s School of Art, at 7pm – 9pm on Friday 2nd of August.

During the exhibition, which continues until 18th August, pieces will also be showcased in a number of windows in Torry Town Centre, including the constituency office of MSP Maureen Watt, Gail Goodfellow Solicitor and Eternal Video/Janie Barclay photography.

The exhibition features works by Rachel Kerr, Annirose Ansbro, Harriet Voar, Laura Mcglinchey, Michael Astbury, Lauren Milton, Gemma Balfour, Tomasz Wrobel, Amy Brown,  Holly Aitchison, Jon Nicolson, Yasmin Oskooi and Grant McNicoll.

Oil and Glass Gallery and Workshop
64 Victoria Road, Torry,
01224 905134.

Open Tues, Wed, Fri: 10am – 6pm,  Thurs: 10am – 8pm,  Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm.

Jun 282013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA), the NE’s largest charity and the country’s biggest city social care charity, has donate £1000 to Old Torry Community Centre to mark a new partnership between the organisations.

This is in line with VSA’s strategy of empowering and investing in local communities and Old Torry’s quest to raise its cultural and social impact locally.

The donation will contribute to the Centre’s funding appeal to get children’s community workshops and murder mystery-themed plays off the ground.

Lesley-Anne Mulholland, secretary at the Centre, said:

“‘Our dedicated committee will continue regenerating the Old Torry Community Centre, making it a local cultural hotspot focused on education and entertainment. We would like this to be the start of a plethora of cultural events at Old Torry. 

“We recently attracted a Scottish National Theatre production but this project is vital to continue raising our profile and to help encourage other theatre companies, musicians and comedians to follow suit’.”

Fiona-Jane Brown, director of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, is leading the project.

“Our first goal for this project is to have a national theatre company perform in October, supplemented by a drama workshop for young adults and a horror make-up class for children. But we need £1000 to bring the theatre company to Old Torry and £1000 for the workshops, which will be led by local experts.

“We’re delighted for any contributions and we’re incredibly grateful to have an organisation as large and influential as VSA on board. Their support and belief in the project means a huge amount.”

Kenneth Simpson, VSA’s chief executive, agreed:

“We’re passionate about supporting community projects.  We want to work with communities and ask ‘if you want to do something, how can we help you succeed?’  This particular project is an ideal fit with VSA’s remit of supporting vulnerable communities and promoting education for young people. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us too. VSA service users will be able to get involved by attending the workshops and seeing the play. It’s a brilliant, mutually-beneficial partnership.”

Theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar’s one-man shows, Holmes Alone and Warnings to the Curious are provisionally scheduled for performance on 11 and 12 October at the Old Torry Community Centre. The initiative is a joint project between Hidden Aberdeen Tours, The Cellar Theatre Company and Old Torry Community Centre.

Jun 212013

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Community groups will be walking routes through Torry  painting yellow fish next to drains that flow to the river.
This is to raise environmental awareness to what goes down our indoor/outdoor drains and how it affects the river and water treatment works.

The walk will end at Torry Battery with a dolphin watching session with the RSPB and food will be provided.

This is going to be great, come and join us! I hear Fish and Chips will be on offer…

Time: 12pm

Meeting at: Torry St Fittick’s Church

Duration: approx 1 hr

May 172013

Oil and Glass was opened in Torry in May 2012 when it was chosen as a winning business in Aberdeen City Council’s Retail Rocks scheme. After a very successful first year, Shelagh Swanson, the studio’s owner and artist in residence, has taken on the retail unit in her own right. Included in her plans to expand the business is the development of additional studio spaces for artists.

To celebrate the studio’s first birthday, Shelagh will be undertaking a marathon painting and glassmaking session from 1000 on 23 May until the same time the following day.

Other artists, working in a variety of media, will be joining Shelagh in creating work, to be sold by silent auction to raise funds for their chosen charity, Momentum Aberdeen Brain Injury Services.

The public will be able to pop in at any time during the event to watch the artists at work and follow progress.

Finished creations will initially be made available for bid via the Oil and Glass Facebook page, but the culmination will be a silent auction at the birthday party on Saturday 25 May from 1900-2200, when all the artwork made will be exhibited.

During Shelagh’s marathon, Hidden Aberdeen Tours will be providing free storytelling sessions Tales of Old Torry from 1500 to 1700, and Terror Tales of Old Torry between 2300 and 0100 – not for the faint hearted!

Shelagh decided to support Momentum Aberdeen Brain Injury Services when the lovely Rhian Johns, who has been helped enormously by the charity, was taken to the studio by her mum Iris to commission a painting.

Rhian’s story is featured on the studio’s webpage where there’s also a preview of a further fundraising event, Top Hats and Tiaras Grand Ball, due to take place at the Hilton Treetops on September 14.

Rhian and Iris will be joining Shelagh in the studio during part of the event and will be available for photographs.

Oil and Glass
64 Victoria Road
AB11 9DS

Tel: 01224 905134

Twitter: @oilandglass

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Dec 102012

Two fantastic cultural events take place at the Old Torry Community Centre this weekend.

Hidden Aberdeen Tours and The Lemon Tree Writers present an evening of spine tingling Victorian Ghost stories.

Friday 14 Dec at 7.30pm

Tickets are £5 and £2.50 for concessions.
Available from the Torry Library or you can email us to reserve.
Also available on the door on the night.

Quids In will be performing a multi media production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Saturday 15 Dec at 7.30pm

Tickets £8. Concessions available.
Tickets can be purchased from The Torry Library or

Email to reserve.

Old Torry Community Centre,
2 Abbey place,
AB11 9QH

Tel. 01224 894925

Nov 202012

A fundraising event to support local activist Renee Slater in her forthcoming court case will be held on Thursday 29 November at Sopranos Bistro in Aberdeen’s Guild Street. With thanks to Friends of Helena Torry.

In the 2012 Aberdeen council elections, a candidate named Helena Torry was put forward by her agent, Renee Slater.

Nothing unusual in that, you might think, until you discover Helena is a dummy.

Not your usual political dummy, we hasten to add, but an actual shop mannequin!

Local activist Renee told Aberdeen Voice:

“Putting Helena forward for election was an act of political satire. I was trying to make a serious political point in a humorous way.

“During my campaign on Helena’s behalf, I tried to bring to the fore the point of view of a silent majority of Aberdonians.

“It was a direct response to what I saw as an under-representation of certain issues in the manifestos of the main political parties, particularly the closure of social centres for disabled people and cutbacks in community and youth work budgets.”

The council’s somewhat cack-handed response to the appearance of Helena as a candidate was to report 63-year-old Renee to the police. She was subsequently arrested and charged under Section 65 part 2A of the 1983 Representation of the People Act, then released to appear in court later.

Denied legal aid, Renee faces a court battle to clear her name in January 2013, not only having to foot her own legal costs but also facing the possibility of a substantial fine.

Fundraiser organisers Friends of Helena Torry is a group of local residents alarmed and disappointed at the council’s heavy-handed reaction to what is clearly a harmless act of political dissent, a type of political satire with a long and entertaining history.

Animals, inanimate objects and historical figures have been nominated for public office many times. Notable examples are American activist Michael Moore’s nomination of a ficus plant for congress and even Caligula’s horse (which apparently won) once featured in an electoral race. Even In the most recent U.S. presidential elections, the long-deceased Charles Darwin received around 4000 votes.

Friends of Helena Torry believe political dissent has an important role in a true democracy and should not be criminalised. Local authorities must respond to criticism in a morally acceptable way and should strive to act upon those criticisms in the interests of the public it serves.

One might think the police have more than enough to cope with as it is, that a court system under increasing strain must have more important matters to attend to than a piece of harmless satire, particularly one that actually brought a smile to a great many faces, not just in Aberdeen but around the globe.

Everyone is invited along to the evening. The fun kicks off at 7pm and will include live music from local bands and a raffle, so please come along and support Renee and join the campaign to free mannequin Helena (languishing in police custody to this day).

You can also donate or buy a T-Shirt or badge from the website:

All proceeds from the evening go towards Renee’s legal costs. Any surplus will be donated to a charity of Renee’s choice.

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