Peterhead (About this soundlisten ; Scottish Gaelic: Ceann Phàdraig,[3] Scots: Peterheid About this soundlisten )[4] is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is Aberdeenshire's biggest settlement (the city of Aberdeen itself not being a part of the district), with a population of 18,537 at the 2011 Census.[2]

Peterhead, Broad Street.jpg
Broad Street, looking west to Tollbooth Wynd. The Reform Monument is in view on the left
Peterhead is located in Aberdeen
Location within Aberdeenshire
Population18,537 (2011)[2]
OS grid referenceNK135465
• Edinburgh120 mi (193 km)
• London420 mi (676 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townPeterhead
Postcode districtAB42
Dialling code01779
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°30′33″N 1°47′00″W / 57.5091°N 1.7832°W / 57.5091; -1.7832Coordinates: 57°30′33″N 1°47′00″W / 57.5091°N 1.7832°W / 57.5091; -1.7832

Peterhead sits at the easternmost point in mainland Scotland. It is often referred to as The Blue Toun (locally spelt as "The Bloo Toon") and people who were born there as Blue Touners. More correctly they are called blue mogginers (locally spelt as "Bloomogganners"), supposedly from the blue worsted moggins or stockings that the fishermen originally wore.


Peterhead was founded by fishermen and was developed as a planned settlement. In 1593 the construction of Peterhead's first harbour, Port Henry, encouraged the growth of Peterhead as a fishing port and established a base for trade.

Peterhead was a Jacobite-supporting town in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. In particular, it was one of the Episcopalian north-eastern ports where reinforcements, plus money and equipment, were periodically landed from France during the Forty-Five.[5]

A lifeboat station was first established in 1865.[6] Since early times Peterhead has received a portion of its water supply from Morris Wells.[7] Peterhead convict prison was opened in 1888, gaining a reputation as one of Scotland's toughest prisons.

The present harbour has two massive breakwaters, enclosing an area of approximately 300 acres (120 ha) in Peterhead bay. The south breakwater, about 2,700 ft (820 m) long, was constructed in 1892–1912 using convict labour from the prison. Peterhead was, and remains, an important fishing port, and the breakwater gave it an advantage over other fishing ports.

Value of Fish Landed in Peterhead 1893-1914

The north breakwater, constructed 1912–56, is approximately 1,500 ft (460 m) long.[8]

A new phase of growth was initiated in the 1970s with Peterhead becoming a major oil industry service centre, and the completion of the nearby St Fergus gas terminal. At this time, considerable land holdings were allocated for industrial development.

In recent times, the town has suffered from several high-profile company closures and is facing a number of pressures, including Common Fisheries Policy reforms. However, it retains a relatively diverse economy, including food processing, textiles, service industries and, still importantly, fishing. (Over 163,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, with a value of around £179m, were landed at Peterhead in 2017,[9] employing around 700 fishermen.)[10] The Peterhead Port Authority plans to extend the northern breakwater as a stimulus to the town's economic development. In addition, to assist with business diversification and town centre environmental improvements, the 'Peterhead Project' initiative under the Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership brings together the Council, Scottish Enterprise Grampian, Communities Scotland, commerce and community representatives.

Between 1952 and 2004 the Royal Air Force station RAF Buchan was located near the town. The radar unit ceased to be a RAF station on 1 September 2004 and was downgraded to a Remote Radar Head named RRH Buchan.[11]

Local governmentEdit

Peterhead is the largest settlement in Buchan, a committee area of Aberdeenshire.

The town was a burgh in the historic county of Aberdeenshire. In 1930 it became a small burgh under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929, but in 1975 small burghs were abolished and Peterhead became part of the district of Banff and Buchan within the new Grampian Region. When districts and regions were abolished in 1996, Peterhead became part of the new unitary authority of Aberdeenshire.

Since 1975 Peterhead has had a community council, with limited powers.Scots language


The 2016 population estimate for the town is 19,270 [12], making Peterhead the largest town in Aberdeenshire. English is the primary language used in the town, although 56.4% of residents can speak Scots[13].


Peterhead AcademyEdit

Peterhead Academy houses around 1,300 pupils and the school is split into six houses (Arbuthnot, Buchan, Craigewan, Grange, Marischal and Slains), with all the names associated with areas of the town. The school has pupils coming from surrounding villages such as Boddam, Cruden Bay, Hatton, Inverugie, Rora, St Fergus and Crimond. The academy's motto is "Domus Super Petram Aedificata" (A House Built on a Rock). The academy is Scotland's largest school at over 22,920 m2 (246,700 sq ft) of gross internal floor area. The school has multiple subjects such as ICT, English, French/German, Technical, Engineering, Art, Home Economics, and many more.[14]

The building is split in two distinct designs. The older section of the school was built before the Second World War, whilst the newer section of the school with hexagonal designs came after. The latter section of the school shares space with the town's community centre, theatre and sports facilities.

Primary and specialist schoolsEdit

Peterhead has six primary schools (Clerkhill, Buchanhaven, Meethill, Dales Park, Central, Burnhaven).

There is one special school, Anna Ritchie, which caters for most specific learning difficulties, autism and other disabilities.

There is also Peterhead Alpha School which caters for children with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, as well as learning difficulties, e.g. dyspraxia and dyslexia. Peterhead Alpha school closed its doors a few years ago.


Peterhead has a number of in-town and out-of-town bus services.[15]

Peterhead is further from a railway station (at 32 miles or 51 km from Aberdeen) than any other town of its size in Great Britain. The town once had two stations, namely Peterhead railway station and Peterhead Docks railway station. Passenger trains on the Formartine and Buchan Railway stopped in 1965 under the Beeching Axe, and freight in 1970. The start of reconstruction of the Borders Railway to Galashiels (early 2013) has begun a local political debate into the possibility of reopening the line from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

The nearest airport with scheduled services is Aberdeen Airport. A heliport has been set up at the Eastern end of the former RAF Buchan air base. Recreational aviation also takes place from a part of a former runway.[16]

The Great North of Scotland Railway with other railways in 1867.
Missing railways.

Blueprint for GrowthEdit

In 2008, a Blueprint for Growth was published[by whom?] – a plan to extend the town beyond its bypass. The plan involved 4,500 homes, 4 new primary schools, a new secondary school and a new hospital to be built in the next 20–25 years – hoping to bring 9,000 people to the town.

In 2016 Aberdeenshire Council launched a regeneration strategy for Peterhead - Peterhead Development Partnership Action Plan 2016 - 2021 covering the themes of Peterhead Economy, Integrating Communities and Connecting, reinforcing and rediscovering Peterhead's town centres.


View of Peterhead bay, looking towards the breakwaters
Merchant Street with the Harbour in the background

The harbours, maritime and built heritage, Peterhead Town Trail are the town's principal tourism assets alongside the multi-award winning Peterhead Prison Museum. Recent initiatives include investments in the Peterhead Bay area, which have included the berthing of cruise ships in the harbour. A number of projects are planned under the auspices of the Peterhead Development Partnership and Rediscover Peterhead Business Improvement District initiatives, including tourism strategy development, enhancement of existing attractions, measures to improve the town's physical attractiveness, and improved marketing and promotion.

The former Victorian-era prison, HM Prison Peterhead, that had been closed due to the construction of a new and larger facility has been converted into a museum.[17]

Peterhead is the ideal destination for a day out, short break, weekend away or holiday. The town is easily accessible by road and public transport and close to coast and countryside and key Aberdeenshire visitor attractions.


Peterhead F.C. are an SPFL club who play in the SPFL League One. They won the League Two championship in 2013–14 and 2018–19. In the 2015-2016 season, the club reached the final of the Scottish Challenge Cup.[18]

Peterhead also has a successful amateur boxing club, and in 2008 was the most successful boxing club in Northern Scotland. And currently has two reigning Scottish champions. The boxing gym is closed as of 2017 due money problems

Peterhead RFC are a Scottish Rugby Union team who play at the Lord Catto playing fields.

Maritime EconomyEdit

Peterhead has a thriving port, serving the fishing, oil and gas and other commercial industries. It also receives many visiting seafarers arriving on ships that ply these trades. Seafarers' welfare organisation Apostleship of the Sea has a port chaplain at Peterhead to provide pastoral and practical support to them.

Twin townEdit

Notable nativesEdit

The town is also mentioned in Jules Verne's science-fiction novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864).[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba ~ Gaelic Place-names of Scotland
  2. ^ a b "Area Profiles". Scotland's Census 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. ^ According to Iain Mac an Tàilleir's list of placenames, "The name Ceann Phàdraig ["Peter's headland"] is a fairly recent translation from English. The town was known as Inbhir Ùigidh, "mouth of the Ugie" or Inverugie, in the eastern Gaelic speaking areas."
  4. ^ " - Names in Scots - Places in Scotland".
  5. ^ C. Duffy, The 45 (2003), p. 352
  6. ^ Brief History of Peterhead Lifeboat Station, accessed 15 July 2008
  7. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Catto Long Barrow fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian
  8. ^ R. Paxton and J. Shipway, (2007) Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland – Highlands and Islands, London: Thomas Telford Ltd. [1] Sample Chapter
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Radar Flight". RAF Boulmer. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^, Scottish Government, St. Andrew's House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG Tel:0131 556 8400 (7 December 2011). "School Estates Statistics 2011". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Peterhead Town Services Map" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Buchan Aero Club Longside Airfield - Peterhead".
  17. ^ "H. M. Convict Prison Peterhead 1888 - Peterhead Prison Museum". Peterhead Prison Museum. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne: Chapter 9". Retrieved 13 March 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Peterhead at Wikimedia Commons