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What is Torry?

Torry, from ‘Torraidh’, is Gaelic for ‘hillock’/’knoll’: looking over the Torry Battery, one appreciates that there was a prominent elevation to this part of Aberdeen, which matched the one at the Union Street level, on the other side of the harbour waters: however, the battery came in centuries later than, say, the mediaeval church of St. Fittick’s, and the new buildings, such as Inverdee House (home of SEPA and SNH), are at odds with the strong industrial community around fishing which has been cast out to the likes of Peterhead, further north along the coastline.

What is Torry now? With forty decades of oil and gas industrial presence in the area, it is difficult to say: just like its neighbour across the water, Footdee, many of the old residents have gone, and the newcomers are, by the nature of employment dynamics, temporary or likely to belong to a different narrative. Like in other cities – Dublin, Rome, to name two – there is always a strong sense of identity within a community that settles on the ‘other side’ of a river, departing from the nucleus or core settlement and crossing the water: this sense of the ‘other side’ is very much what helped Torry and Aberdeen have separate lives, and even with the incorporation of the Royal Burgh of Torry into Aberdeen in 1891, these feelings are still tangible.

The question here is not “how should we define Torry identity?” but rather “how can we capture its essence”? The point of Torry Sound Project is to try to treat Torry as a place in its own right, not as ‘the other side’, not as relative to Aberdeen: by exploring its current sounds, whatever they are, we may see Torry in a new light, or take an interest in it through its sounds, through its noises, its own heritage.


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