Wilsone & Duffus

Introduction

 

Not many local businesses have been around for One hundred years let alone Two hundred.  We hope you will be interested to find out a little about our history.    Discover how things have changed since our inception in the 18th century and what we are doing in this the 21st century.

Preface

Wilsone & Duffus can proudly claim roots dating back to 7th March 1796. On that day our founder Mr Andrew Jopp joined the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen. The secret of the success of any legal business is it's personnel and Mr Jopp was the first in the history of Solicitors committed to caring for clients.

 

 

The City was at that time a very different place but the development of Union Street had commenced and the making newspaper of the day; made reference to a proposed Parliament Bill containing alterations to the Slave Trade and a bill relating to the proposed Aberdeenshire canal.  It also made reference to many things we can relate to today including adverts for Road Contractors to "form and make out ...a new HIGH ROAD leading from the Bridge of Dee to ...the Town of STONEHAVEN", the Sale of Houses in George Street, and for the position of "Usher" to teach the elements of the Latin Language at the Grammar School. It also referred to a national lottery which boasted a prize of £10,000.

 

The Jopps

 

Mr Jopp practised from offices at Jopp's Court, 31 The Gallowgate Aberdeen, convenient for the local court buildings, the Mercat Cross, and for the centre of the business community.

Mr Jopp had a high profile in local circles and was to become Trustee of the newly founded Aberdeen Savings Bank. He was also to become Treasurer, then President of the Society of Advocates. It is little wonder that with his prolific background the firm was to flourish.

Mr Jopp later entered into partnership with his son Alexander, who following in his footsteps became clerk and manager of Aberdeenshire Canal Company, a Director of the respected North of Scotland Bank (a bank which was later to merge with the Clydesdale Bank) and a Director of the innovative Great North of Scotland Railway Company.

 

The Jopps are well remembered by the firm itself but the Jopps are also remembered by the City since they lent their name first to Jopp's Court and now Jopp's Lane, a small street nestling behind the City's George Street not far from the location of the first offices.

 

New Offices

 

The firm later operated from a top floor suite at 146 Union Street on the Corner of Union Street and Union Terrace in the building many recognise as the premises of the Commercial Union and affectionately referred to as the Monkey House (a name attributable not to the occupants but to the appearance of the building with the columns resembling cage bars).

The Duffus's

 

Over a century ago, in 1892 a confectioner's son by the name of Alexander Duffus was assumed in to the firm joining Thomas Wilsone who himself had been with the firm for many years. It was customary in the early years for the partnership name to change on the introduction or retirement of each partner and the firms name had previously changed from A Jopp to A Jopp & Son, then to Jopp & Shand followed by Shand & Reid, and Reid & Wilsone.  It was on the assumption of the first Mr Duffus in 1892 that the firm changed to Wilsone & Duffus, a name that it has now used for more than 100 years.   

 

The Duffus family saw four sons assumed as partners in the firm.  The last, Alexander Duffus, joined Wilsone & Duffus as an apprentice in 1950 and served with the firm until March 1999 when ill health forced his retirement.   Over his life Mr Duffus saw many changes in the firm. During the war he had witnessed his father doubling as an Air Raid Patrol Controller whist he maintained his law firm. When the sirens blared he watched as people were escorted safety in the basements of Golden Square. He also watched his father looking after the needs of these to people in a professional capacity. Alexander Duffus held position as Director.

 

Sadly he died in October 1999.

The current partners intend to continue the traditions and to provide a quality service that their predecessors would have been proud of.  

 

The Current Office

 

On four floors, No.7 Golden Square, an imposing granite building in the heart of the City, situated on the corner of Lindsay Street now accommodates five legal partners and around 25 hardworking staff looking after the affairs of hundreds of clients each year.

The square was originally constructed around 1810 to 1820 and housed a Well known as the Hammermanís Well. It was regarded as a desirable residence for respected members of the community including doctors and solicitors with servants occupying basement premises. Fittingly the Feu Charter of Number 7 shows that the property was first purchased by an Advocate for use as a dwelling house.

Conjuring up the original atmosphere of the square "Walking the Mat" refers to the delivery boys who tip-toed down basement stairs to pay their first call at the kitchens of the stately granite town houses, carrying hooped baskets covered with white cloth and to the servants wearing freshly laundered aprons who gave them a piece of fruit or shortbread.

 

Another local book "Aberdeen an illustrated Architectural Guide" gives special mention to number 7 describing the offices by reference to its stylish and remodelled entrance.

The square itself was from the early days perceived as "an Apple of Gold in a Basket of Silver", the crown or centre piece in what was perceived as glittering surroundings with Ruby Place, Silver Street and North Silver Street close at hand. The Square was soon to become an up-market centre of business.

Wilsone & Duffus moved to Golden Square in 1903 and this has been their main place of business since. Over the years the increase in traffic and car parking have masked some of the square's architectural finery but the re-siting of the statute of the Duke of Gordon in 1953, (the first granite statute in Scotland) in the centre of the square and more recently, the reintroduction of iron railings, landscaping and wrought iron light posts with hanging flower baskets have restored the Square's earlier grand appearance.

 

The Firms other Offices

 

The first office in Dyce, Home of Resident Partner Ian McLeod was opened in 1981 and was designed to serve the demands of the local community. Such was the success of the office that the firm moved to larger premises in 1987.  These premises are remembered by many as the old Reuben Laings butchers shop

A wide range of legal matters is dealt with by the Dyce Office. Estate Agency Display Facilities have proved of benefit to purchasers and sellers who enjoy the advantage of local high street display facilities.

The office in Rosemount opened in 1990.   Formerly a Newsagents shop it now carries amongst other publications and in keeping with its former purpose the weekly edition of Aberdeen Solicitors Property Centre newspaper along with the firmís own production, a New Home Buyers Guide. Large display windows contain details of properties for sale throughout the northeast. In common with the other offices a full range of legal services is available.

The Dyce Office

From the Past to the Future

Over the years there have of course been many changes.

Back in 1896, let alone 1796 the partners would have been aghast to consider a women partner. No one could have envisaged a calculator; calculations were done from written tables. Even as recently as 1980 the Law Society Journal posed a question to the profession. "Are word processors for you?"

The firm now embraces modern technology with digital equipment and computer networks and of course email and internet facilities.

No one could have envisaged the myriad of legislation which we now face but it is obvious from the records of Wilsone & Duffus that the systems and work standards employed by previous partners stand the current partners in good stead for the firm. Branch offices or Property Shops would not have been on the agenda. The partners have throughout the history recognised changing demands and reacted accordingly.  

 

A Bicentenary

 

As part of bicentenary celebrations in 1996 the firm celebrated with the then Lord Provost along with other distinguished guests within Aberdeen Cityís Town House

All the current partners believe in the local community and as part of the celebrations they also organised a Charity Ball and lottery with profits of around £5,000 being donated to VSA.

 

The Twenty First Century - Key Moves

 

With the advent of a new century and the increased use of the world wide web Wilsone & Duffusís vision sees the adoption of new trading name key-moves, particularly dedicated to our property and mortgage work but to run in tandem with our traditional name for other services. Virtual reality tours and a new web site also feature on the agenda.  Our aim remains the same.