8-1/2 Portlethen Village
I have a great deal of sympathy for the local postman in respect to delivering mail to the houses in Downies. There are no street names, in fact there is only the one true street, and the sequence of house numbers within the village defy rhyme, reason or logic in the way they have been set out.
There are thirty two houses in Downies yet the lowest number is 17 and the highest number is 44. Those houses without numbers have names and in some instances there are houses with both names and numbers. Already you may be confused however it becomes more baffling still when you find that house number 35 is next door to house number 37 at the foot of the village, and towards the middle of the village there is house number 32 which is immediately next door to house number 38.
As well as there being no numbers from 1 to 16 there are many numbers missing from between 17 and 44. I’m sure that there is a good reason for this which is more valid than my own reckoning that “they were numbered as and when they were built”. I can understand why there may be numbers missing in that houses fell into ruin or were demolished over time and the number was “lost” however it’s difficult to get your head around that fact that number 22 might be right next to number 36!
I have attached a sketch of the houses in Downies and how they are numbered. Maybe a mathematician or a genius can work out a pattern or sequence here and verify the logic behind these numbers? Personally, I quite like this unique and eccentric scattergun approach and the only downside is the constant knocking on the door by confused and bewildered courier van drivers trying to work out where Mr Craig at number 30 might be located?
The oldest house numbers in Downies were 1 - 16 and these houses formed what was known as "the square" which was located slightly to the south of the existing village. In 1871 all of these houses were occupied, by 1881 six were unoccupied and ten years later there were only two that remained occupied. By 1940 there was only one house in "the square" still standing. Today, the only sign that there were any houses there are a few stray foundation stones and boulders in the immediate vicinity.
To a lesser extent Old Portlethen also had a unique numbering system in respect to their houses but at least they were more uniform in nature so that you were likely to find number 4, next door to number 5 which was next door to number 6, etc. However they did have some little foibles of their own and occasionally you would find a house with half a number so that in Old Portlethen we saw house numbers such as 8-1/2 or 9-1/2. The old sketch that is attached to the "Tee Names" section goes some way to explaining what the set up used to be like in Portlethen Village at the beginning of the 20th century.
Portlethen differed from Downies in that there were two “main” roads within the village, as well as a mid village path and a few rows that ran in front of the cottages. It was perhaps because of this, and the introduction of around twenty new homes in the 1970’s, that local councillors decided to change the old numbering system and create new street names so that each house in the village had a new address. This new street name and numbering system came into being in 1976.
The “age of progress” didn’t go down well with some of the village residents who resented the fact that the old system of numbering was being changed without consultation. What mostly rankled was not the fact that street names were being introduced into Old Portlethen but that the names chosen had already been decided on by councillors and some of them were wholly unsuitable and inadequate names.
If Arnot Place, Harley Terrace and Craigmarn Road sound vaguely familiar then you might have heard of some of the local coastal landmarks in the area, however these names are shortened and bastardised versions of the true coastal names. Arnot Place being derived from Arnot Boo (council comment – Arnot Boo Place would be too much of a mouthful), Craigmarn Road being a shortened version of Craigmarroin (council comment – no one would be able to spell Craigmarroin, interesting to note that the proper spelling of Craigmarroin was later used for a street name in the nearby settlement of Altens), Harley Terrace (probable council comment – better drop the Hacket from Harley Hacket, Harley Terrace has a nice ring to it).
So despite resident petitions to the local councillors asking for a rethink on these names and being able to have some input of their own the councillors stood firm and went along with their own original suggestions. Now the old numbers in Portlethen Village are long gone, despite some residents carrying on quoting their original house numbers for many years after their official demise. My parents house no longer 43 Portlethen Village but now 1 Craigmarn Road, Portlethen Village being one example of the many changes.
I admit that I preferred having the old numbers but with new houses and streets that were introduced to Portlethen Village in the 1970’s it was no longer feasible to create new numbers and now the street names of Craigmarn Road, Broadhaven Road, Arnot Place, Harley Terrace and Old Coast Road have become well established and maybe just about acceptable to the older residents.