The quarry

Find out what has happened since the 16th of April 2010.....
the day Hugh and Sandy awoke the "Sleeping Giant"


Would you buy something without seeing it? Well, we did. Or at least, we hadn't seen it for more than 40 years when we played there as young teenagers! 

Anyway, very shortly after we bought the quarry, we got in touch with the guy we bought it from and asked him what was the best way to get in? We received a txt reply saying, " just cut a hole in the fence and go in. After your done, fix the fence on the way out!". Somewhat bemused, we decided to put a proper gate in so we could come and go easily and as often as we wanted. It has also saved us a fortune in fence repair bills!


Not long after our gate had been put in, we went to have a closer look at our new acquisition. We carved our way through the undergrowth, more than 40 years worth, to find ourselves at a fantastic vantage point with unobstructed views of the quarry. We were both dumbstruck with what we saw and had grins from ear to ear. Then, after a short while, Sandy said those first words that will live with me forever, " I think we need a boat!".

A few days later, we found ourselves in a marine engineers workshop on Stell Road and there she was, sitting there waiting for us, The Deepwater Explorer. Under the cover of darkness, another few days later, we had her delivered to the quarry and with a few friends at hand, we gently and carefully put her near the water's edge. 

It wasn't long before we acquired the neccesary lifebelts and Sandy & I have enjoyed many outings on The Deepwater Explorer, along with some close friends and family.


One of the first problems we encountered was the rising water level. It should have reached some sort of equilibrium in 1985, according to an engineers report!

However, the water was continually rising and some local residents had been complaining to Aberdeen City Council, who in turn called us, to find out what we were going to do about it. After some lengthy discussions with the Aberdeen Roads Department, some help from Inspectahire and an unsuccesful game of "ping pong" with ARD's engineer, Doug Henderson, we unfortunately couldn't use the existing drainage system that had pumped water from the quarry every day when it was operational.

However, ARD agreed to build an outfall to receive the water and SLD Pumps & Power provided us with a submersible pump system. The Balmoral Group supplied a buoy to secure the submersible pump at the surface of the 500 foot deep water filled quarry and the only thing we needed now, was electricty. Not as simple as it sounds, if you don't have a postcode! Anyway, with a fair bit of diplomacy and negotiation, we eventually had an electric supply installed and we were ready to go!

Lord Provost Peter Stephen accepted our invitation to "flick the switch" at an official pumping ceremony but had unfortunately retired from office by the time the system had been installed. Thankfully and gratefully, our new Lord Provost, George Adams, stepped in and in June 2012, the first water flowed from Rubislaw Quarry in over 40 years. It had been pumped daily when in operation. During one of the wettest summers in history, the water level has been reduced by around 3 metres when pumping was stopped in November 2012. 

It will take another 4-5 years before the water level reaches a critical level again and hopefully our vision to breath new life into the quarry again will be more than a dream by then. 

At least we now have the capabilities to control the water level.


After the shock of being told that we needed a boat in the quarry, in order for our proposed survey to provide meaningful information, we set about trying to find out how to acquire a pontoon. The pontoon would have 3 very important roles to play. Firstly, it would give the survey vessel a safe place for its crew to board and then disembark. Secondly, we could use the pontoon for securely mooring the buoy and submersible pump. Lastly, this would be the Deepwater Explorer's own safe haven to allow us easy access to Rubislaw. 


With everything in place and a willingness by the survey team to press on, we set a date for the survey in March of 2012. With unanimous support from the residents of Rubislaw Mansions (we were using their private car park to lift the boat in and out of the water) we were conscious that the logistics of launching an 11 tonne boat into the quarry would have its problems. However, it seemed to be just another day at the office for James Jack Crane Hire, as they negotiated their 1,000 tonne crane into the car park to await the arrival of KD Marine's offshore support vessel. Within a matter of a couple of hours, the vessel was in the water and the residents car park was back to normal, at least for a couple of days!

NCS Survey and KD Marine had spent some, time pre-launch, fitting the vessel with "state of the art" sonar survey equipment that would provide real time information of what lay beneath the surface. On board the vessel was Seatronic's "Predator" ROV, for getting a closer look at what the survey may throw up. At the end of the two days, we were all amazed at the 2D and 3D images the survey produced which are the most accurate ever produced, showing Rubislaw in its full glory. 

We are indebted to the survey team, who treated the survey as a training exercise and tackled everything with a "can do" but attitude. We congratulate them on their professionalism and support for our project at Rubislaw Quarry.


The Granite Festival in May 2012 seen us co-host a talk on Rubislaw Quarry at The Cowdray Hall. Jenny Brown, Curator for Industry at Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums, gave a sell-out audience of 250 a taste for the history behind Rubislaw Quarry.

We were then left with the floor to let the audience see what we had been up to at Rubislaw Quarry in the 12 months preceding the talk. A large part of our presentation was dedicated to the subsurface survey carried out in March 2012 where we were able to show video footage of an earlier dive and the images from the survey which were very well received. 

The final part of our talk then unvieled our vision for Rubislaw Quarry for the first time to the public. 

Due to the success of our talk, we have been invited to open The Granite Festival in 2013 with a talk at The Cowdray Hall on Saturday, July 20th at 4pm. Please put this date in your diary as we expect another sell-out, where we will be letting the audience see our final proposals for the Rubislaw Quarry Heritage Centre, a unique and iconic place of interest to celebrate and learn about Aberdeen's granite heritage.


During 2012, we have visited 4 Primary Schools in Aberdeen City. Kirkhill, Broomhill, Hazlehead and Ashley Road, where the children and teaching staff have all enjoyed a short presentation, followed by a chance to look at some historical images and facts about Rubislaw Quarry and also a Q & A session to finish. We have been overwhelmed by the childrens interest in granite and what it means to their proud city. So much so, it has galvanised our vision to create something special at Rubislaw Quarry which is unique to Aberdeen, The Granite City.

Here are a few comments from the children and teachers:

I liked looking at the designs of the new proposed building'  -  Theo

'I found the whole talk really interesting'  -  Sarah

'I particularly liked the idea of having a glass floor in the new building'  -  Robbie

'I liked how the design for the new building was halfway over the quarry'  -  Kamil

'I enjoyed watching the DVD of the people whilst the quarry was being used to see what was there'  -  Ruth

'I enjoyed hearing about the history of the quarry'  -  Catherine

'We got to ask questions which they were able to answer'  -  Ailsa

'I think it is a good idea turning the quarry into a visitors centre'  -  Alexander

'It was fascinating to find out that it was the biggest man-made hole in Europe'  -  Alex

The presentation was lively, varied and very well prepared, and engaged the children extremely well. They were excited at the thought that something which had lain unused and unseen for decades could become a valuable amenity for the city they live in.
In this project one of the key learning intentions is that children should become aware of the impact that people and their activities have on the environment. From this talk the children learned that much of Aberdeen was built using the stone on which the city site lies. They understood that carving a huge amount of material out of the ground can have a considerable effect on the surroundings. And they were led to see that as times change, the uses of parts of our environment also change, and that we have a responsibility to make the right decisions about how changes should come about for the benefit of the community.
We felt that it was very good for the children to be provided with such a positive role model and that the experience might encourage the sort of enterprising attitude we need to foster in our young people.   

Mrs Jones & Mrs Ellington