New project seeks to better understand Aberdeen’s granite industry

The Marischal College

THE memories and experiences of those who worked in or were in families associated with Aberdeen’s granite industry are being sought as part of a new project.

Launched by the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, the granite oral history project will look to create a better understanding of the human dimension behind the material which has been used across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Industrial scale quarrying of granite started in the area in the 18th century with the industry reaching its heyday in the 19th century, when the material was used to pave streets, form harbours and embankments, build buildings and for funerary monuments.

In addition to being used to create high status buildings in Aberdeen such as the Marischal College and the Townhouse, granite was used to build much of the rapidly growing city in the 1800s and continued to be used well into the 20th century. It was exported across the globe giving Aberdeen its world-wide reputation as the ‘Granite City’.

The Trust said that it is particularly interested in connecting with those with first-hand experience of granite quarrying, processing, tooling, carving, memorial work, business, administration and distribution of granite and its associated trades.

Douglas Campbell, project officer at the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, commented, “There is still a lot to learn about the granite industry and we want to make sure we capture a record now, which can be used to inform our understanding and research of this great industry in the future.”

The lord provost of Aberdeen, Barney Crockett, added, “The City of Aberdeen is known around the world for a great many wonderful things, one of which is granite. It is why Aberdeen is often referred to as the Granite City or the Silver City – due to the reflective elements found in the grey granite.

“The oral history project is a great way to capture the experiences and stories of those who worked in the industry in their own words and I would encourage anyone who has an interesting story to tell to share it with the Trust so it can help provide a fascinating insight in industrial and social terms for us now and for future generations.”

A spokesperson from the Trust added that they would be ‘delighted’ to hear from any individuals or family members that were involved in the industry in some way. If you wish to share any memories or stories, the Aberdeen City Heritage Trust can be contacted by emailing: or calling: 01224 522755.