Royal Northern and University Club


Photography Group Update

February 15, 2015 - 9:56pm - by The Club Office

The Club's Facebook Page has been updated, showcasing a selection of the Photography Group's latest images.

To view the images, go to our Album

If you are interested in joining the Photography Club then Peter Duffus would be delighted to hear from you and can be contacted at or if you prefer through the Club Office at


Burns Supper

February 15, 2015 - 9:42pm - by The Club Office

On Saturday 7th February Club Members and their guests were treated to a fantastic Burns Supper. Entertainment to a sold out Dining Room and Garden Room included poets, singers, musicans, speeches and toasts.

A sold-out Burns Supper was also held on Friday 30th January, and we are delighted to announce that the dates for next year have been set for Friday 29th January and Saturday 6th February 2016.

A selection of photos from this fabulous night can be viewed on our Facebook Page:


Valentine's Dining 2015

February 15, 2015 - 7:21pm - by The Club Office

Thank-you to everyone who visited the Club this Valentine's Weekend, for dining and accommodation.

The bedrooms were all filled with some added items.

The Dining Room also had some additional touches for the evening.

Which helped to fill the room for a very special evening.

Many Members took advantage of the opportunity to join in with the sing-a-long part of the entertainment, provided by Hazel Mair.


Thanks to Sir Stephen

February 2, 2015 - 4:36pm - by The Club Office

The Club would like to thank Sir Stephen House, Chief Constable of Police Scotland, for taking time out of his very busy schedule to be guest speaker at the Speaker's Lunch last week.

It was a fascinating insight into the life of a senior police officer and a review will be included in the next edition of the Club magazine.


Annual Members and Guests' Dinner 2014

September 8, 2014 - 12:18pm - by The Club Office

A selection of photos from Friday 5th September, when Sir Graeme Catto was the Guest Speaker, are available to view in our Facebook Album.


Farewell to Lor

August 15, 2014 - 2:44pm - by The Club Office

It was an emotional day today as Lor, the restaurant supervisor and face of the Club, retired after 32 years of service.

A farewell reception gave Members a chance to say their goodbyes and wish her well as she retires to Australia to spend time with her family.


Annual Members' Dinner 2014

May 21, 2014 - 1:56pm - by The Club Office

The Annual Members' Dinner on Friday 16th May was a fantastic evening, with seventy Members in attendance and guest speaker Bob Keiller, Chief Executive of Wood Group, entertaining with his speech “Business Values”


New Reciprocal Clubs

May 18, 2014 - 9:40am - by The Club Office

We are delighted to announce that a reciprocal arrangement has been formed with three new Clubs.

Koninklijke Industrieele Groote Club

Dam 27
1012 JS Amsterdam
The Netherlands

00 31 20 624 22 20

Marines’ Memorial Club

609 Sutter Street
San Francisco
CA 94102

415 673-6672

City of London Club

19 Old Broad Street

020 7588 7991


Musical Evenings with Richard Michael

March 25, 2014 - 10:54am - by The Club Office

Members and guests were treated to two very special evenings of entertainment by the multi-talented Richard Michael on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd March when Richard conducted musical evenings featuring "opera to jazz" on piano. It is not possible to do justice to Richard in print. All that can be said is that he has brought improvisation to a new level playing everything from Burns to Wagner. His audience communication had everyone saying "I wish I had had a music teacher like him!"

The Dining Room was filled to maximum capacity, and the only question outstanding is when, not if, Richard will be invited back. He was certainly delighted with the audience participation and response.


160th Anniversary Speech

March 21, 2014 - 10:39am - by The Club Office

Speech given by Dr Vijay Jandial, Club Chairman, at the 160th Anniversary Cocktail Party, held in the Club on 20th March 2014.

The Northern Club was established in 1854. There were 116 original Members. The great majority were local gentry and proprietors of various businesses. Heading the list were Lords Hay and Haddo, the Earl of Kintore, Sir Alexander Burnett of Crathes and Marquis of Huntly, whose subscription remained unpaid for some years. There were also some bankers and Advocates. Rear Admiral Leith represented the Navy and Major General Turner represented the Army. Most Members who joined remained Members for life. There was the occasional removal of a Member by the Committee, once a bankrupt Advocate was removed.

To ensure some kind of selectivity the membership entrance fee was fixed at a formidable £15 and the annual subscription at £15!

The range of facilities supplied by the Club has changed little over the years. There was a Smoking Room, a Billiards Room, and a Reading Room, which was well stocked with magazines such as Punch, the Field, Black and White and Vanity Fair. There were also some Reference books in the Reading Room.

Most popular activities in the Club were playing cards and Billiards. Food and Drink were an important part of the Club facilities. (Apparently nothing has changed over the years!) The Suggestion book was introduced in 1870 and the first entry was a complaint about the supply of Brandy. Much of the House Committee time was spent in obtaining good wine and whisky sampling sessions. Food was also an important part of Club activity. The cook produced beef dishes, steaks, oysters and five kinds of tarts and puddings.

The Club’s first home in 1854 was at 1 Union Terrace. The location proved to be ideal and helped to acquire the Royal title.

The Club did admit a lady in 1863!  Queen Victoria came to Aberdeen on 9th October 1863 to unveil the statue of her beloved Albert who died of typhoid in December 1861. The Club premises offered the vantage point for the proceedings. The Club was offered to the Queen and her retinue. The Queen was grateful for the courtesy of the Club and bestowed the Royal title. She also gave £20 to the Club staff!

It was not until 1955 that ladies were finally admitted as guests but only after 3pm!

The Club moved from Union Terrace to 204 Union Street in 1874. The out- break of war in 1914 made its impact on the Club. Within one year 4 Members of the Club were killed. Membership numbers declined and there was all time low of 152.  Gradually the Club got busier. Naval and Military officers were encouraged to become temporary Members.

As a result of depression, the price of beer was reduced and supplies of port and wines were laid down. There was a high consumption of whisky and port. However, Chivas Brothers stopped the supply of whisky during the Second World War in 1944. Post war, the membership increased. 50 new Members were admitted to the Club. In 1952 Prince Philip became the Patron of the Club.

Over the years the Club received many gifts. Sadly some have disappeared. The most substantial in terms of bulk were the stag heads. The most admired head as it is today was that gifted by King Edward V11. It was a stag shot by him. The other prized possessions are the pair of paintings in the Reynolds Room. Sir Alexander Burnett of Crathes gifted these in 1856. After intensive investigation in the early 30’s it appeared that they were not solely painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, as stated in their inscription. Reynolds might have done the heads and hands, but his workshop did the rest!

In 1948 the Club purchased 9 Albyn Place, the present premises, for the princely sum of £10,000. The Club Centenary was celebrated in 1954 with a cocktail party like this one! Reciprocal membership with other Clubs was developed in 1968.

The University Club was proposed in 1889. The Club was instituted for the Association of Gentlemen connected with the Universities of the United Kingdom to form a bond of Union and create a feeling of friendship and afford opportunities for their intellectual intercourse. The first meeting of 16 people included 4 Professors of Divinity. Students were not acceptable. It started a Library, which was extensively used. The original premises were at 183A Union Street and consisted of 5 rooms of which 2 were the Reading Room and the Library. Other rooms were for smoking and billiards. Books played an important role and were frequently borrowed.

By 1892 the University Club had 176 members. Numbers remained steady till 1969 when there was marked drop leading to financial difficulties. The initial entrance fee was 3 guineas, which increased to 4 guineas by 1902. The Annual membership fee was 2 guineas, which increased to 9 guineas!

By 1970 inflation was making life difficult for Clubs everywhere in the UK. Wages and other costs were rising. Victorian buildings required maintenance and refurbishment. In 1972 an ad hoc Committee of the Royal Northern Club was formed to look into the financial problems of the Club. The financial problems were increased further with the discovery of dry rot in 1973. An increase in Annual fee led to 40 resignations. The University Club was also under financial pressure. Amalgamation of the two Clubs was proposed at the AGM of 1974. In 1977 both Clubs voted for the Amalgamation and finally in 1979 the Clubs merged to become The Royal Northern University Club. One of the casualties of the merger was the Library of the University Club. Books were sold much to the regret of many Members. However the fine fireplaces of the Club were saved and are now housed in the Reynolds Room and the Dining room. Membership numbers topped 500 in 1983.
Refurbishment of the bedrooms, kitchen and improvement in the décor of the Club took place. Miss Black was appointed as a manager in 1982. Ron Esslemont was also appointed the same year. Prior to that Stewards managed the Club.

Today we have a very vibrant and active Club. There are various interest groups including three investment groups. Membership is vital for the well being of the Club. The numbers over the years have been around 650. The need to attract new Members is one of the issues, which has exercised every Committee and will continue to be of paramount concern. I feel this is a matter not just for the Committee but also for every Member of the Club. Ideas to bring in new Members will be welcomed by the Committee and I hope with your help we will be able to reach the target of having 670 Members this year.

There has been a continuous rolling programme of improvements. The Garden Room was completed in 1989 and has proved to be very useful for dining and meetings.
I look forward to your support in the coming months for various projects outlined in the Club magazine and at various functions detailed in the Newsletter.
I am very grateful to Malcolm Sutherland, who has been a Member of the Club for 47 years in supplying some anecdotes. Malcolm started as a Member of the University Club. The Members were a mixed bunch. There were doctors, lawyers, garage proprietors, bankers and shopkeepers. So at lunchtime one could get good advice on anything, from getting a divorce, financial crisis or a painful toe, all over the main course!

When the two clubs merged, there were great disputes over the treatment of the large round Stilton cheese infused with port, which most Members had instead of pudding. The Northern lot vandalised the cheese by cutting wedges with a knife and the University lot were more traditional and scooped their cheese!

Apparently in the good old days the Club used to subscribe to Playboy magazine, which used to disappear promptly! One day there was a hunt for the Playboy. They found the Chairman asleep in one of the rooms with the Playboy spread across his chest!

Thank you Malcolm for sharing these stories with us.


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