Peterhead sits at the easternmost point in mainland Scotland. It is often referred to as The Blue Toun and people who were born there as Blue Touners. More correctly they are called blue mogginers, supposedly from the blue worsted moggins or stockings that the fishermen originally wore.
Peterhead was founded by fishermen and was developed as a planned settlement. In 1593 the construction of Peterhead's first harbour, Port Henry, encouraged the growth of Peterhead as a fishing port and established a base for trade.
Peterhead was a Jacobite supporting town in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. In particular, it was one of the Episcopalian north-eastern ports where reinforcements, plus money and equipment, were periodically landed from France during the Forty-Five.
A lifeboat station was first established in 1865. Since early times Peterhead has received a portion of its water supply from Morris Wells. Peterhead convict prison was opened in 1888, gaining a reputation as one of Scotland's toughest prisons.
The present harbour has two massive breakwaters, enclosing an area of approximately 300 acres in Peterhead bay. The south breakwater, about 2700 ft long, was constructed in 1892–1912 using convict labour from the prison. The north breakwater, constructed 1912–56, is approximately 1500 ft long.
A new phase of growth was initiated in the 1970s with Peterhead becoming a major oil industry service centre, and the completion of the nearby St Fergus gas terminal. At this time, considerable land holdings were allocated for industrial development.
In recent times, the town has suffered from several high-profile company closures and is facing a number of pressures, including Common Fisheries Policy reforms. However, it retains a relatively diverse economy, including food processing, textiles, service industries and, still importantly, fishing. (Over 90,000 tonnes of fish, with a value of around £60m are now landed at Peterhead, which is still also base to over 550 fishermen.) The Peterhead Port Authority plans to extend the northern breakwater as a stimulus to the town's economic development. In addition, to assist with business diversification and town centre environmental improvements, the 'Peterhead Project' initiative under the Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership brings together the Council, Scottish Enterprise Grampian, Communities Scotland, commerce and community representatives.
Between 1952 and 2004 the Royal Air Force station RAF Buchan was located near the town. The radar unit ceased to be a RAF station on 1 September 2004 and was downgraded to a Remote Radar Head named RRH Buchan.
Peterhead is the largest settlement in Buchan, a committee area of Aberdeenshire.
The town was a burgh in the historic county of Aberdeenshire. In 1930 it became a small burgh under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929, but in 1975 small burghs were abolished and Peterhead became part of the district of Banff and Buchan within the new Grampian Region. When districts and regions were abolished in 1996, Peterhead became part of the new unitary authority of Aberdeenshire.
Since 1975 Peterhead has had a community council, with limited powers.
Peterhead Academy houses around 1,300 pupils and the school is split into six houses (Arbuthnot, Buchan, Craigewan, Grange, Marischal and Slains), with all the names associated with areas of the town. The school has pupils coming from surrounding villages such as Boddam, Cruden Bay, Hatton, Inverugie, Rora, St Fergus and Crimond. The academy's motto is "Domus Super Petram Aedificata" (A House Built on a Rock). The academy is Scotland's largest school at over 22,920 square metres (246,700 sq ft) of gross internal floor area. The school has multiple subjects such as ICT, English, French/German, Technical, Engineering, Art, Home Economics, and many more.
Peterhead has six primary schools (Clerkhill, Buchanhaven, Meethill, Dales Park, Central, Burnhaven).
There is one special school, Anna Ritchie, which caters for most specific learning difficulties, autism and other disabilities.
There is also Peterhead Alpha School which caters for children with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, as well as learning difficulties, e.g. dyspraxia and dyslexia.
Peterhead has a number of in-town and out-of-town bus services.
Peterhead is further from a railway station (32 miles from Aberdeen) than any other town of its size in Great Britain. The town once had two stations Peterhead railway station and Peterhead Docks railway station. Passenger trains on the Formartine and Buchan Railway stopped in 1965 under the Beeching Axe, and freight in 1970. The start of reconstruction of the Borders Railway to Galashiels (early 2013) has begun a local political debate into the possibility of reopening the line from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
The nearest airport with scheduled services is Aberdeen Airport. A heliport has been set up at the Eastern end of the former RAF Buchan air base. Recreational aviation also takes place from a part of a former runway.
In 2008, a Blueprint for Growth was published – a plan to extend the town beyond its bypass. The plan involved 4500 homes, 4 new primary schools, a new secondary school and a new hospital to be built in the next 20–25 years – hoping to bring 9000 people to the town.
The harbours, maritime and built heritage are the town's principal tourism assets. Recent initiatives include investments in the Peterhead Bay area, which have included the berthing of cruise ships in the harbour. A number of projects are planned under the auspices of the Peterhead Project initiative, including tourism strategy development, enhancement of existing attractions, measures to improve the town's physical attractiveness, and improved marketing and promotion.
Peterhead F.C. are a Scottish Football League club who play in the League One. They won the League Two championship in 2013–14.
Peterhead also has a successful amateur boxing club, and in 2008 was the most successful boxing club in Northern Scotland. And currently has two reigning Scottish champions. The boxing gym is open to all and located in Ellis Street.
Peterhead RFC are a Scottish Rugby Union team who play at the Lord Catto playing fields.
Peterhead has a thriving port, serving the fishing, oil and gas and other commercial industries. It also receives many visiting seafarers arriving on ships that ply these trades. Seafarers' welfare organisation Apostleship of the Sea
The town is also mentioned in Jules Verne's science-fiction novel 'A Journey to the Centre of the Earth' (1864).