Plans to clean the historic granite within Union Terrace Gardens have been approved.
Aberdeen City Council planning papers reveal that “conservation cleaning” of the stonework in the gardens will soon be taking place.
This includes the balustrades along Union Terrace, the staircases leading down to the gardens and all the stone arches.
It is part of a wider multi-million programme of works to revamp Union Terrace Gardens.
The scope of work will include the careful cleaning of the granite to remove the years of pollution and dirt which had darkened the once sparkling facades, as well as any small re-pointing repairs needed along the way.
However this is no ordinary cleaning job as the stonework has been listed as a Category B site of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
This means that the granite is protected and its heritage must be carefully conserved.
Permission for the cleaning works was granted subject to conditions, including that no statues should be cleaned unless a detailed assessment for the work has been submitted and agreed to.
‘The granite is only original part of gardens left’
Councillor for Midstocket and Rosemount Bill Cormie said: “Seeing any granite cleaned up is a great thing – you just need to look at the difference in the Marischal College to appreciate it.
“The granite is really the only original part of Union Terrace Gardens which is left, so it’s very good to see that it is getting the attention it needs and is to be cleaned up.
“Having the balustrades cleaned will make a huge difference and I’m looking forward to seeing the silver sparkling in the sunlight.”
The gardens officially opened in 1879 when the bleaching greens next to the railway line were given to the people as a pleasure ground by the council.
In 2010, controversial plans were unveiled to transform the space, with some of the park valley being filled in and built over.
‘Important whole project done to high standard’
However it wasn’t until 2016 that the final designs were eventually chosen to regenerate the gardens, and work didn’t begin until three years later in 2019.
Current projections say the £25.7m regeneration scheme for the gardens won’t be finished until spring 2022.
Tom Mason, councillor for Midstocket and Rosemount, said: “Given that this is such a big project I think that to not clean the granite would be a huge mistake, so I’m very pleased to hear that this is going ahead now.
“It’s so important that the whole project is done to a high standard and cleaning up the granite is a part of the process.
“When granite is newly cleaned it really does sparkle and it’s very attractive.
“The only trouble is that it doesn’t last too long that way, unfortunately.
“But pollution generally in the city is going down so it should last a good number of years longer than it would do before I’m guessing
“I’m really looking forward to the completion of the gardens and think that it’s a fine project which will benefit the whole city when it’s finally done.”
The long-awaited restoration is part of Aberdeen City Council’s city centre masterplan, and will introduce elevated walkways, new pavilions, events space and play facilities.
Work also involves the installation of permanent safety barriers on Union Bridge and widening the pavement on Union Terrace.