Fiona-Jane helps bring hidden history to life

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A FACEBOOK page inspired local historian Dr Fiona-Jane Brown to set up a company that aims to bring the Granite City’s forgotten and hidden history to life.

Hidden Aberdeen Tours, whose first tour took place last month, was started by the 38-year-old from Peterhead, after she received help and advice from Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire.

Using her PHD in folklore, her passion for oral history as well as information from her social media site, Hidden Aberdeen, Dr Brown aims to take locals and tourists on five unique tours throughout the summer and autumn months.

She said: “Last year I set up a Facebook page to encourage people to share their favourite spots of the city which weren’t on the traditional tourist trail. The page has been a huge success and now has over 1,000 members.

“The enthusiasm users of the site have for local history made me realise there was a gap in the market for tours that were ‘off the beaten path’, ones that focused on areas of local history that are often no longer in existence due to the city’s re-development. I also wanted the tours to inspire people to see that history is all around them.

“I had undertaken some informal tours last year to test the water but then got a job curating the Arthur Conan Doyle exhibition in Portsmouth. I was made redundant and came back home to sign on in April.

“I mentioned to the Job Centre that I wanted to set up a business and was pointed to Business Gateway. The organisation has been great and the seminars very useful, as I’ve been self-employed before they were a nice refresher. The courses have also been a great way to network and let people know about the tours.”

John Shaw, business adviser with Business Gateway said: “Dr Brown has a real desire to ensure that people don’t forget the city’s past and her business has evolved from that passion.

“Her enthusiasm for history is infectious as she has always immersed herself in it – from working for the Formartine Partnership managing its 2005-08 Oral History Project, where she was self-employed, to being a curator at Grampian Police Museum and studying folklore at Aberdeen University.

“We have provided her with knowledge that will ensure her business has strong foundations and are on hand whenever she needs advice on any aspect of the day-to-day running of the company.”

The tours have all been designed to showcase Aberdeen’s rich past and bring famous dates and locations back to life.

Dr Brown added: “The tours all have an element of fun and education about them. They often require people to use their imagination to visualise sites which have been removed or replaced as the city has grown and developed through the ages.

“We are losing buildings left right and centre so it’s never been as important as it is now to try to get people excited about the city’s history, to make them realise just how much we have lost to make way for new buildings, and how important it is to talk about the past so that we never forget where we have come from.”

To find out more about Hidden Aberdeen Tours visit www.hiddenaberdeen.co.uk or search for Hidden Aberdeen Tours on Facebook.