Portgordon, sometimes called Port Gordon, was founded on a previously empty site by the 4th Duke of Gordon in 1797. The signs of its origins as a planned village remain in the broad and attractive High Street, the central square, and the slightly later Church of Scotland contained within the grid of roads.
But the most important element constructed by the Duke of Gordon was Portgordon's harbour. At the time this was the most significant for some distance in either direction along the Moray coast, and it was to remain so for over 50 years.
Portgordon initially grew as a fishing village, though it also imported coal for industries in Moray, and exported their products. In 1857 Portgordon's importance started to wane with the building of a harbour at Nether Buckie (now known as Buckpool) two miles up the coast; a process that was completed with the building of the huge Cluny Harbour at Buckie in 1877. Fishing boats previously based at Portgordon left for the better facilities and market at Buckie.
In 1886 the railway came to Portgordon, dramatically improving the village's links to other coastal communities: it was to close 80 years later in 1968. Portgordon's harbour remained active until badly damaged by a storm in 1953. It has since been repaired and is now the base for a few leisure craft: while the piles of lobster pots around the harbour are evidence of some continuing small scale fishing.
In more recent times, Portgordon has served mainly as a pleasant western outlier of Buckie. Local industry has revolved around a maltings a little to the south of the village, built to service Moray's distilleries.
Despite Portgordon's clear origins, its name has always been the subject of debate. Should it be Portgordon or Port Gordon? The Ordnance Survey goes with the single word variant, which is why we do: but many sources use the two word name. Locals pride themselves that this lack of definition is common both to the name of their village and to the colour of Scotland's flag, the Saltire, whose blue has been rendered in many different shades over history.