Aberdeen is famously known as the Granite City, but the influence of those who have plied their craft with the famous stone extends way beyond the north east.
Indeed, a group of Scots were instrumental in the creation of one of the world’s most famous structures, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Jim Fiddes’ new book “The Granite Men” highlights how 30 redoubtable characters swapped Aberdeen for Australia in 1926 and the letters they sent home indicated they were more than happy with their working conditions and a salary which rose by 10 shillings in the first few months.
At the outset, Dorman Long of Middlesbrough, the company which built the bridge, received more than 250 applications from those seeking work Down Under.
As Mr Fiddes states: “They appointed John Gilmore from Harthill in Kintore, to manage the granite quarry at Moruya, 200 miles south of Sydney.
“He had worked at Kemnay, Rubislaw, Peterhead, Brechin and Ailsa Craig quarries and had also been employed in North America.
“The first party of workers from the north east left Aberdeen in February, 1926, with another group following in May.
“Unlike most of the workers, who had gone to North America, they took their families with them and children were born in Australia who later moved back to Aberdeen.”
Mr Gilmore was one of life’s great pioneering figures and he accompanied his wife, his son and no less than eight daughters on the gruelling seven-week voyage, which usually tested the patience and stamina of even the most seaworthy traveller.
The initial contract was for a period of three years with the possibility of further work beyond that time and the peripatetic Scots joined forces in a place, colloquially known as Granite Town, alongside many Australian and Italian stone masons.
Even today, almost a century later, their collective efforts prove that their hard graft was well worth the sacrifices which lay behind their escape to the sun!
“The Granite Men” is published by The History Press.