For hundreds of years, generations of quarrymen laboured deep within quarries in north east Scotland to unearth the stone that gave the Granite City its name.Whilst their endeavours live on in buildings all over the world, the memories of most of those who spent their days quarrying granite across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have largely been lost. Thanks to the dedication of Aberdeen author Jim Fiddes, their stories have been retold in his new book, The Granite Men.
Jim traces the north-east’s granite industry, from its origins of Neolithic farmers creating stone cairns and circles, to the stonemasons of the medieval era and all the way to the turn of the century when thousands of quarrymen were employed in the industry.
Jim approached Leith’s some time ago as there was an obvious connection within his book to James Leith, Ian’s great Grandfather, when he was operating Cairncry Quarry in the 1870s. As well as operating Persley and Craigenlow Quarries during the late 19th century, James Leith also became one of Aberdeen’s main granite contractors working on projects such as sewers and waterworks, the Riverside Esplanade and the archway at the north end of the Wellington Suspension Bridge. As we have mentioned in a previous edition of Leiths News, he also built the bridge over the River Don at Persley which opened in 1892. Leith’s were delighted to support and sponsor the publication of the book.
Jim, who spent most of his 29 years as a librarian at the Robert Gordon University’s School of Architecture and Construction, was himself the nephew of a granite worker.
The Granite Men, published by The History Press, was officially released on 29 March 2019 with an official launch evening being held at The Robert Gordon University Library on 18 April.