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Blade 2

The Pends of Peterhead

A pend and a close are both passageways that go through a building, often from a street through to a courtyard. Unlike a wynd or a vennel, which are open to the sky, they have rooms above. A pend is a vehicle entrance - wide enough to allow a horse and cart through, while a close is narrower, and for pedestrians only.

Artwork in Proclamation Pend celebrates the events surrounding the first Jacobite rebellion of 1715, when James Stuart was proclaimed in the town as King James VIII and III. Tolbooth Close led to the local lock-up where 17th and 18th century wrongdoers awaited justice and to the Town House, where the Bailies (the early town councillors) met. Nearby are Empress Close and Smithy Close. Empress Close was named for the Empress Ballroom on the ground floor of the old Music Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1936. Smithy Close led to a Blacksmith’s workshop where metal tools and utensils were made and many of the working horses of Peterhead were shod.

Drummer’s Corner is named in honour of the Town Drummer, whose job was to alert the townsfolk to dangers such as fire or attack.

The statue of Fisher Jessie commemorates the contribution made by local women to the fishing industry over the years, from the fish wives who tramped inland carrying a heavy creel loaded with fish to trade round the farms and villages, to the Gutting Quines who followed the herring shoals from Shetland to Yarmouth every year to prepare the fishermen’s’ catches for market. Fisher Jessie was the first public art commission created by the sculptor Andy Scott. He went on to produce works including the world famous Kelpies, in Falkirk and the acclaimed Clydesdale Horse which stands beside the M8 motorway in Glasgow.

In 1805 Clockie’s Hoose was a drinking den of very low repute. From his home behind Tolbooth Close and the Town House, George Clockie sold beer and spirits while his two daughters had their own thriving hospitality business offering customers much more personal services from another part of the building. The place became known for drunkenness, violent fights and alleged links to theft and other crimes. Its reputation was not helped by being the alehouse of choice for the local militia. This not very upstanding body of men were recruited from the dregs of society – men who could not find honest employment elsewhere. Their role was to protect the town from the prospect of invading French troops. Discipline was tough and desertion was common.

Clockie was eventually evicted, and in time the house became part of the Ship Tavern. It was demolished, and replaced in 1872 by the Music Hall. This was a more prestigious venue with a ballroom and was at the heart of respectable social activity until a disastrous fire in 1936. The gutted building had to be demolished. While clearing the ground, workmen found two bodies in a shallow grave. Both wore the tattered remnants of militia uniforms. It appeared that two supposed deserters had come to grief at Clockie’s Hoose. Did they die in a violent brawl, or were they robbed and murdered? Whatever the cause, Clockie had successfully covered up their terrible deaths until the culprits were beyond the reach of justice.