Posted by: christinelaennec | April 25, 2011

Union Terrace Gardens in the spring

One of my favourite places in the heart of Aberdeen is Union Terrace Gardens.  It’s looking particularly lovely now – our springtime seems to be a bit earlier than usual this year, even with (or because of?) the deep-freeze November and December that we had.  A few days ago there were lots of people enjoying the Gardens:

Enjoying Union Terrace Gardens, April 21st 2011. Seen from the street above.

As you can see, Union Terrace Gardens is built on the sides of a valley.  There are some beautiful old elm trees that survived the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic:

One of the gates down into Union Terrace Gardens. Aberdeen, April 2011.

The valley that Union Terrace Gardens is built in is the Denburn Valley.  The Denburn, one of the tributaries flowing into the River Dee, is underneath the railway and Denburn Road.  Standing on the bridge which forms part of Union Street, there is a fine view across the Denburn Valley over to Education, Salvation and Damnation (now mostly obscured by the leaf buds on the trees in the Gardens):

Union Terrace Gardens seen from the bridge over the Denburn Road and the railway that forms part of Union Street. You can see the domes of St. Marks and His Majesty's Theatre behind the Gardens. Aberdeen, April 2011.

When I began this blog last May, one of my first posts was a sad lament that, despite the public consultation going against the idea, the City Council had decided to fill in Union Terrace Gardens and transform it into one of the largest squares in Europe.  (One of their arguments was that no-one uses Union Terrace Gardens.)  Here is a promotional poster advertising the Council’s vision of what the new “City Square” might be:

Promotional poster for the new City Square Project - September 2010, Aberdeen.

Part of the impetus for this project is that Sir Ian Wood, a wealthy local businessman, has pledged £50 million to the project, which will of course cost about three times as much. Last week, on the same day that I took the photos of people enjoying the “un-used” Gardens, the Council launched a worldwide competition to redesign what they are now calling the “raised gardens”.  This new terminology is no doubt supposed to placate the many outraged citizens who have publically protested the entire idea.

This post is part of my own public protest.  I want the City Council to leave Union Terrace Gardens alone, and protect Aberdeen’s Victorian heritage.  And instead of spending £100 million on this project, I think they should spend any money they have on re-opening swimming pools and bowling greens, re-hiring teachers and classroom assistants, re-opening libraries, disabled support centres and once again supporting the Fair Trade Shop, which has now closed due to lack of Council support with their rent.

I will get off my soapbox now!



  1. I’m horrified at the concrete wasteland that’s planned to replace growing things. What are people meant to do on this – just stand and look at a rectangle of murky water? Dodge skateboarders? for a skateboard park it will undoubtedly become. It is a piece of grandiose, self-inflated, self-important Council nonsense, which has nothing to do with the needs of residents. I agree with your list of alternative priorities.

  2. Hi Christine, thanks for these wonderful photos ( seems we had the same ideas this week ….) Can imagine your anger with the council …hope they will indeed use the money for things as education and libraries….
    Have a lovely Monday

  3. It does seem that human nature sometimes drives people to NOT be able to just leave something be. You are right, there are so many better uses of that money!

  4. I hope you have a large soapbox, Christine. There will be many who want to join you on it. Great post!

  5. it does seem a rather extravagant amount to spend re-doing something and i agree that the money could be better spent somewhere else.

  6. the square looks AWFUL and the gardens look magical!!!!! Typical example of humans ruining everything 😦



  7. What a beautiful pictures. Hope you had also some beautiful sunny days.

  8. good post, alas there are no valleys here only glens, but its a great deal better than that horror planned for my toon , seems like we are going backwards not forwards……i agree that its one of the best parts of the city and to stick some flat borin lines instead would be joining other citys that wish they had areas like that

    • Thanks, Jake! I cannot understand why the Council is pushing this “horror” as you rightly say – will we ever know the truth?!

  9. Scottish heritage should be getting a protection order to save the victorian heritage in the gardens, it is rediculous that the council is looking to dispose this great part of the city’s heritage..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: