Thursday, 16 February 2012

A visit to Union Terrace Gardens

So. Back to reality, after my Valentine's escapade.

There is one almighty row going on in Aberdeen just now.

I think it's time I got involved. Be part of David Cameron's 'Big Society' and all that.  Not to mention there's nothing a terrier likes more than a good scrap.

It's all about this plan to redevelop a park running through a valley in the heart of the city. A local business magnate, Sir Ian Wood, has offered to fund about half of a £100 million transformation of Union Terrace Gardens into some swanky 'sculptured space' they're calling the Granite Web. (The City Council's to pay for the rest, with money it doesn't have.) The blurb from the architects talks about all these extra green areas they'll create, although what we see in their computer generated graphics is quite a lot of concrete.  We can only guess, from the enthusiastic support of builder of cheap and flimsy homes and ugly commercial buildings local property developer Stewart Milne, that other aspects of the plans are being kept under wraps for now. Oh and I have to tell you, when Gail read some claim that 6500 jobs would be created, I heard her muttering "I suppose they think we all believe in Father Christmas too...."

Anyway it's only a mile to walk to the Gardens from our home, so I persuaded Gail to take me there this afternoon so I could have a nose around myself.

And here we are.

Well I can see that it is rather neglected. Look at the state of that pathway.

And while the facilities for dogs are acceptable,

The ones for humans leave something to be desired..

But all in all you know, it's a bonny wee park, with its own unique charm. Not at its best in February perhaps, but even without the flowers in bloom and the trees in leaf, it is a handsome prospect, looking up towards His Majesty's Theatre, is it not?

In fact, three imposing granite buildings, all in a row, adorn this part of town, and they are known locally as "Education, Salvation and Damnation". Yes, you've guessed it, the library, the church and the theatre.

Standing guard over both the Gardens and the fine civic buildings, we find Braveheart himself, Sir William Wallace, who surely would be pleased to see that at least the railings under his statue are freshly painted.

But perhaps he'd be less happy if he heard about the new scheme of things, whereby a firm of American architects seek to obliterate the distinctive character of the Aberdeen city centre....
The Granite Web: the Diller, Scofidio and Renfro/Keppie design

I had a great time exploring Union Terrace Gardens today. So many splendid trees to sniff, places to run about, and no boring 'dogs mustn't do this and that' signs. Gail was looking a bit peckish after she'd finished taking all the photos for me, so I guess it would be nice if someone opened a cafe down here. And perhaps smartened the place up a bit in general, while preserving our precious heritage. It wouldn't cost too much, would it? Unlike the Granite Web.

There will be a local referendum at the end of the month, asking residents whether or not they support the new development. I am sorry to say that dogs are not invited to take part. I am pretty sure I know which way Gail will be voting. 


  1. Bertie, we hate it when beautiful old places are destroyed so that flimsy, new houses can be plonked on the space. It's one of my ma's pet peeves. So I hope your gardens can be saved....and someone adds a little dog-friendly cafe as well ;-)

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie

  2. We'd vote against it, too. And as far as 6,500 jobs....don't think you'd even get those if they mined it for minerals.

    It just needs a little smartening up.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  3. Bertie we can fully understand your concerns. The gardens just need some loving care and attention with some first class facilities.
    Progress really does stink sometimes.

    Molly, Taffy, Monty and Winnie

  4. That park looks lovely as is. It would be a dreadful shame if they tore it down in an effort to "improve it"

    Urban Hounds

  5. Bertie. We're with you a 100% . The lunatics have taken over the asylum, or at least the local council. Have you asked Gail to take you into the Art Gallery ? The War Memorial inside is one of Aberdeens hidden architectural ( and much neglected ) gems.

  6. Oh Bertie, you know what these humans are like! We liked the park a lot, ideal to sniff and lots of lovely buildings which, for some strange reason, humans seem to like.
    We are glad you got to visit as we have never seen Union Terrace Gardens.
    So much to sniff.......!
    Well if they are not going to let dogs vote you can be sure of one thing, there will be no sensible decisions made!
    May we also add that you are looking very smart in your pictures today - quite the out and about young dog.
    The Aunties xxx

  7. 6500 new jobs my paw! The week after they get hired, it'll be goodbye, we don't need you anymore.

  8. We have those shameful scams over here too -- let's hope that the residents, after their furry companions explain what a rotten deal this would be, vote wisely.

    One has to wonder who would be attracted to a Granite Web (the name says it all!!!)

    Wirey woofs of consternation!

    Jake and Just Harry

  9. Woof Bertie. You have a lot of sense for a pup so young! My owner Anne would very much agree with your observations. She is very concerned about the ghastly plans for the 'upgrade' of Union Terrace Gardens. She thinks that acres of mass planting of wildlife unfriendly bedding plants is a)unsustainable and b) dated and tasteless.
    A few token 'native' trees crammed together as a an attempt to remind us we are in Scotland not on the location for a sci fi film. AAArgh!

  10. Don't you just HATE it when Peeps..
    NEW AND IMPROVE thingys to the point of ruination???

  11. You chose a great place to snoop Bertie. Looks like you found a a beautiful place
    Benny & Lily

  12. OH no Bertie. Mom says she is sorry that the Americans think that they can go any where they want and build what they "think" the people need.

    Is that guy related to Trump?

    I say you are correct. Spruce it up and leave it alone, it is BEAUTIFUL almost as it is. The plans look terrible!

    woos, Tessa

  13. Bertie, your little park looks wonderful to us. 6500 jobs?? Who are they kidding. Take care little mate. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  14. Oops - mama's old eyes misread Milne for Mine. Other than that, seems a difference without a distinction. But in fairness, who hired the American architects? They sure didn't just show up and volunteer to design that abomination for free. You should see the appalling memorial 'they' put up here in D.C. purporting to honor Martin Luther King. The sculpture of King, done by a Chinese scuptor who signed his own name in large letters, looks like Mao with curly hair. Hope the thrifty voters of Aberdeen refuse to pony up the government's half of the alleged cost - which will certainly go up if they actually start building. Is there an online 'Vote NO' campaign already in hand?

    Jed & Abby

  15. PeeEss: About those jobs. A Canadian oil company is trying to get permission to build a questionable pipeline from the Canadian oil shale pits across the U.S. to Louisiana. They claimed it would create 20,000 U.S. jobs. Turns out upon investigation it would really be less than 1000 jobs that would last less than 2 years. Very creative accounting.

    Jed & Abby

  16. Lovely pictures... hope your park gets to retain its charm and beauty.

  17. Oh, right, just what everybody wants--make the place look like a typical, generic park with no local character whatsoever.

  18. Bertie we hope you get to keep your gardens. It just needs TLC not construction.
    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  19. Loving your posts.

    Matilda the cat !