Aberdeen is situated on the estuary of the River Dee. For centuries Aberdeen's role as a port was based on riverside wharves. The first step in the creation of a safer haven was the construction of an artificial breakwater at the Torry in 1607. This projected from the south shore. In 1707 engineer John Smeaton suggested the construction of a pier to project from the north bank of the Dee, but this work was not carried out until 1780.
During the second half of the 19th century the first enclosed dock was created with the construction of Victoria Dock, followed by the Albert Basin. Maps from the late 1860's show a tidal harbour on the north side of the Dee, with a double lock chamber leading to the enclosed Victoria Dock, while to the west of Victoria Dock is Upper Dock. The channel between the two docks was spanned by Regent Bridge.
Later maps show 2 swing bridges - one across each of the entrance locks to Victoria Dock.
The Albert Basin was constructed to the south of Victoria and Upper Docks, with an open entrance to the tidal basin.
In the 20th century a floating dock was built, the existing docks deepened and the riverside wharves deepened and improved.
Substantial re-development to accommodate the booming north sea oil industry in the latter part of the 20th century saw great changes, including the removal of the Regent and Clements bridges.