The property, set in 8 acres on the north side of the river Dee, is built on “lot 13” of the original Wood of Pitfodels, which was set out to feu in 1846 by John Menzies, the Laird of Pitfodels, who at that time lived in Pitfodels Castle on the banks of the River Dee, which was then destroyed and rebuilt, and is now known as Norwood Hall.

The feu was purchased by Francis Smith, Head Accountant of the North of Scotland Bank in Aberdeen in June 1848. In 1852 the house was completed and Francis Smith took up residence at Balnagarth, named after the area of Garthdee.

He lived there until 1869, when it was then purchased by a leading solicitor in Aberdeen called George Collie, of the firm James and George Collie, living there till 1949. The Collie family owned substantial land at Pitfodels, and several mansion houses were occupied by the family from that time until the present day.

The next owner Mr Alfred Cordiner, from the local well known Cordiner family of timber merchants and garage owners, lived there until 1958 when he subsequently sold the house to Mr James Irvine of the Irvine’s of Drum Castle, another famous local land-owning family. In 1974 the house was purchased by Mr Gordon Cochran, solicitor, of Adam Cochran and Company, who remained there until 1987 when the house was sold to Mr Charles Mitchell of Mitchell’s Car Hire. The property was then purchased by Stakis Plc, as a site to replace the Royal Darroch Hotel, Cults, which had been destroyed by a gas explosion in 1984.

The property lay undeveloped until 1991, when it was bought by The Pitfodels Development Company and sold on to the Spence family for development into the present Marcliffe at Pitfodels, opening in November 1993.


In 1948, Margaret and Clifford Jordan opened a hotel by the name of The Marcliffe (the name originated from their Christian names) in the city’s Queens Terrace. Stewart and Sheila Spence bought The Marcliffe in 1979, and the hotel remained in Queens Terrace until 1983, when they moved the hotel to Queen’s Road, to the site of the Queen’s Hotel, which they had owned since 1973 and re-named it The New Marcliffe.

On completion of the building at The Marcliffe at Pitfodels, the hotel moved from Queen’s Road in November 1993.

We do hope you have enjoyed reading the history of the house and the hotel.