Royal Northern and University Club


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.


Latest New Members

February 21, 2014 - 6:55pm - by The Club Office

Ian Aitchison

Originally from the Borders, Ian served in the Merchant Navy with the Ben Line of Leith, gaining his Master Mariners Certificate at aberdeen Nautical College. He transferred into the drilling world abroad then into the North Sea. He served on Shell Expro's offshore production platforms as Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) prior to coming onshore as HSE Manager. Following a long service with Shell he joined Aker Kvaerner again in the North Sea operations and decommissioning but also doing 3 years as HSE Manager in Kazakhstan on the Kashagan Field hook up in the Caspian Sea. A secondment of 3 years to lead the industry safety forum, Step Change in Safety, has made him appreciate and share his knowledge of the importance of HSE in business. Since returning from Kazakhstan Ian set up his own consultancy, Corum Marine Safety Ltd and currently works with major North Sea Operators & Contractors on Management of Change, HSE & Marine projects.

Richard Clarke

Born in Essex, Richard obtained a BSc degree in Geology from Bristol University before joining Shell International as a well site petroleum engineer in 1981.
Following an initial period working on land rigs in Holland as a petroleum engineer, Richard transferred to the drilling department and worked his way up from assistant driller to drilling supervisor on land rigs in Holland, Thailand and Oman.
Following his departure from Shell in 1989 he spent five years working for various oil and gas operators in the North Sea in both onshore and offshore engineering and supervisory positions including two and half years as a senior drilling supervisor on the Claymore platform for Elf Enterprise Caledonia. Since 1994 Richard has worked on projects for both small and large international operators in a number of countries including Algeria, Pakistan, Trinidad, USA, Colombia, UK, Egypt, Holland, Ethiopia, Poland, Falklands and Equatorial Guinea.
Richard cofounded REC Consultancy Services Limited with Dave Mackay in 2007.
Richard is a Chartered Engineer, a fellow of the Geological Society of London and Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint

MBBS, MD, FRCP (Edin.) FRCP (Lond.)
Clinical Chair in Medicine of Old Age
School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Aberdeen

Born in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Phyo is the first person in his family to enter into the medical profession! He spent a rather long medical student life (10 years) - 6.5 years long medical course + 3.5 years of school closure due to political unrest in Myanmar and closure of medical schools between 1988-1991, and again in 1992 during which he served as volunteer house officer in No (2) Military Hospital (Surgical Unit) and the Professorial Unit of Medicine in Yangon General Hospital.  He started postgraduate medical training in the UK in 1997 and held junior clinical training posts in Yorkshire and East Kent regions and Specialist Registrar posts in Mersey and East Anglia regions. He was awarded the Stroke Association Clinical Fellowship and received clinical stroke training in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. He was trained in Clinical Epidemiology in Cambridge (Clinical Gerontology Unit, University of Cambridge) and Norwich, UK. He was conferred the Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 2007 with the Thesis “Healthy Ageing: Determinants and Outcomes of Functional Health in EPIC-Norfolk”. As a specialist trainee he has involved with founding the trainees group of the British Association of Stroke Physicians and served the British Geriatrics Society as Elected Vice-Chair (2003-2005) and then Elected Chair (2005-2007) of the Trainees group.
He completed higher medical specialist training in March 2008 with accreditations in General Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine with sub-specialty in Stroke Medicine. He took up his first senior academic appointment with the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia in April 2008 as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Ageing and Stroke Medicine. He became Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 2010 and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2012. He moved to Scotland in August 2013 to take up the position of Clinical Chair in Medicine of Old Age with the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine & Dentistry.
He sat in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) COPD update Guideline Development Group and was a Steering Committee Member of National COPD Resources and Outcomes Audit. He became the Royal College of Physicians of London Representative of Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) Council and also a member of Clinical Studies Group of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) in 2013. He joined RNUC as an ordinary member in February 2014.
Phyo's research interests include clinical epidemiology and outcome research in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, determinants of physical and mental ageing (healthy ageing), clinical geriatrics (extreme old age, disability, pneumonia, futility and CPR decisions) and health services research of conditions prevalent in older age.


Burns Supper 2014

February 7, 2014 - 12:22pm - by The Club Office

On Friday 31st January 2014, 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 Saturday 18th January, and we are delighted to announce that the dates for next year have been set for Saturday 17th January 2015 and Friday 30th January 2015.

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


New Business Centre

January 17, 2014 - 4:38am - by The Club Office

The building work, decoration and equipping of the New Business Centre has been completed, and it is now open.

The Centre is located in the basement of the Club, next to the Library, in what used to be a storage space. This new space is equipped to provide Members with a quiet place to work or just relax in the new seating area.

Two PCs have been installed and the whole area has a Wi-Fi internet connection. A Wi-Fi Printer has also been installed, that you can connect to from any device.


New Reciprocal Club

December 6, 2013 - 11:47am - by The Club Office

We are delighted to announce that a reciprocal arrangement has been formed with the Phyllis Court Club, in Henley on Thames.

Phyllis Court
Marlow Road
Henley on Thames

01491 570500

New Reciprocal Clubs

November 13, 2013 - 9:51am - by The Club Office

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

Circulo Ecuestre
169 Bis
08006 Barcelona
+34 934 156 000

Real Sociedad Valenciana de Agricultura y Deportes
Calle Comedias No 12
Valencia 46003

+34 963 517 142


Musical Evening with Paul Anderson and Annie & Cait Lennox

October 9, 2013 - 9:21am - by The Club Office

The Dining Room was sold out to capacity, and you could hear a pin drop as the entertainers thrilled everyone present with their collection of Traditional Scottish Fiddle Music and Singing.


Gourmet Fish Night

September 30, 2013 - 8:04am - by The Club Office

On Saturday 28th September, RNUC Members Ken Watmough and Sandy Law, pictured, entertained a sold out Dining Room with their knowledge and anecdotes from 30 years in the Fish trade.

A sumptuous four course fish inspired menu completed the evening.


Latest New Members

September 19, 2013 - 12:06pm - by The Club Office

Ignacio Chanzá 

Ignacio Chanzá was born in Valencia. He is a Spanish lawyer and since 1998 has been practicing the legal profession in Spain where he is the senior partner of his own legal firm based in Valencia. This legal firm was founded by his grandfather in 1930 and continued by his father.
Ignacio and his family have been holidaying in Scotland for the past fourteen years, enjoying and living in a country they are passionate about. In July 2009 they moved to Scotland for a year because Ignacio started his private study on Scots law. He joined a legal firm in Edinburgh in order to know the Scottish legal system and the legal profession.
He qualified as a Scottish solicitor in 2012 and was duly admitted in February 2013, being enrolled in the Law Society of Scotland.
In August 2013 he was appointed as a Consultant at James and George Collie where he practices in both Spanish and Scottish law.
Ignacio is the current Honorary Consul of Spain for the North of Scotland. He is also an Advocate in Aberdeen and Notary public.  

Alan William Silver

Alan is an Aberdonian having attended Aberdeen Grammar School and Robert Gordons Institute of Technology Aberdeen University studying  in Civil Engineering and is now a Chartered Civil Engineer.
After quallifing he went to Leicestershire to work on a major motorway contract (M1) with Sir Robert McAlpine.
Two years Iater he moved on to work in Libya on harbours and airports in Benghazi and Sebha with Sir William Halcrow and Partners.
He lived and worked in London for a couple of years before moving to the midlands to work on further road schemes.
In 1971 moved back to Aberdeen to work for the Local Authority and eventually progressed career to become Director of Roads for Grampian Region.
He was a member of Junior Chamber Aberdeen and has been a member of Rotary since 1980 having served as president of the Aberdeen Club.
Also involved in Grampian Transport Museum  and still drives steam engines on the road not railway engines and is on the board of  Castlegate Arts Ltd which manages Aberdeen Arts Centre (ACT Aberdeen).
Professionally he is still involved with Engineering Council in the accreditation of university degrees in Engineering
Alan is married to Margaret an artist and they have two sons and two grandchildren.

Richard Burnett

Richard was born in 1962 in Dundee. He attended High School in Dundee and then the University of Aberdeen, achieving a Master of Arts in Social Science. He then graduated from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in July 85.

After University he worked for a Chartered Surveying firm in Aberdeen – F G Burnett’s - before moving to Lickley Proctor and Burnett in Dundee in 1985. Gradually he specialised in residential and commercial property management and, having become a partner in 1991, concentrated on that aspect of the practice.

In 2001 he moved to Blackadders Solicitors to set up Blackadders Property Management, until February 2008 when he resigned from Blackadders and took a 6 month career break, spending much time hill walking, culminating in a successful accent of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest free standing mountain in the world, at 19,635ft.

In October 2008 he became a Director of The Property Management Company (Dundee) Ltd in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire. His role has now expanded in to that of Customer Services Director, where he leads all Customer–facing services.

He is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Residential Property Managers. Away from work, he spent 13 years with Dundee Round Table, chairing it in 2000 and chairing the Millennium European Conference of the Europe 30 organisation. He is now an active member of the Rotary Club of Dundee, as well as being a keen sportsman, a competent game shot, a most unlucky fisherman and a dedicated skier.

Richard has been married for 26 years to Lesley, a chartered physiotherapist. They have one daughter, Sally aged 15, who can now sadly out-ski her father.


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