The Doric Columns
Kemnay Quarry - Paradise Hill
Kemnay Quarries, were from
1858 leased by
John Fyfe, an Aberdonian; by
1880, 250 men employed
with 7 steam cranes and 2 Blondins (wire lifts - claimed as his invention). Blocks 30ft
long and 100 tonnes in weight were produced in its heyday. Celebrated for
supplying granite for the
Holborn Viaduct. It was opened in
1830 by John Fyfe, and became fully commercial in 1858.
Granite workers from Kemnay helped to quarry and shape the Australian granite used in the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They also travelled to Quarries in California, the Mississippi Levees and Odessa.
The photograph shows a general view of surface working in grey muscovite-biotite granite. Shows pit-like form of quarry 122 m. deep. On the left of the photograph can be seen the sett-maker's yard with the 'scathies' or huts set out at regular intervals, behind is the crushing plant. The various steel lattice towers are for the Blondins while below the crane on the pit edge are the 'hutches' for lowering the quarrymen to the bottom. The Blondin mast on the built-up platform just right of centre was called the 'spion kop' after a battle in Natal during the Boer War.
More than 100,000 tonnes of overburden and granite from the Kemnay Quarry near Aberdeen has been sculpted into a 25m high cairn to celebrate the Quarry's History and the importance of Granite to Scotland. Kemnay granite has been used on Tower Bridge, the Forth Rail bridge and the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Three sculptors, John Maine, Brad Goldberg and Glen Unwin, worked with quarry owner Aggregate Industries to create the Place of Origin attraction that will allow visitors to gaze safely into the depths of the quarry. Most of the mound is overburden faced with 2 to 4 Ton granite blocks. Leading to the summit and dotted through a new woodland are a series of special feature areas with granite in its various forms, from glacial boulders to gravels and quarried blocks.
Kemnay Quarries, C1939 Surface working. A pit-like form of quarry 122 m. deep while above on the skyline was a large waste tip. A light railway network was present with several bogies used for transporting stone. Adjacent to the railway is a stockpile of kerbs and setts (cassies). A large crane is seen on the edge of the pit while a dismantled crane is employed near the Railway. Right through the centre was a 'Blondin' lifting cable. Several 'Blondin' cables are present, one with a pulley with a load going across. In front, near the crane are the 'hutches' the means by which the quarrymen were lowered to the quarry floor. John Fyfe of Kenmay Quarry is claimed to have invented 'Blondins' (see J M Henderson Patentee) and 1st used them in 1873. They were named after the famous French tight-rope walker Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet) (1824-97).
Kemnay granite quarry in Aberdeenshire in 1939, a Railway which crosses a bridge over an access road. A 'Blondin' lifting cable is also seen.
The Alford Valley Railway was constructed to enable the exploitation of
the pink and grey granite quarries at Kemnay and Tillyfourie and
also the famous Aberdeen Angus black cattle breeding and agricultural output
from a large part of Aberdeenshire. ?The quarries really excelled with huge
tonnages leaving on the line. Few realise that the Thames Embankments and Tower
Bridge in London are built from Tillyfourie Granite, as a display of huge
blocks testifies outside the Science Museum. The AVR is responsible for the
present location of the village of Alford which grew around the new Terminus
from 1859. It is the very reason Alford is here at all! The museum is
pleased to be telling the full story and showing some of the surviving objects
and pictures of the line?s heyday and final years.
Two quarrymen were swept over a 250ft high ledge by a fall of rock at the Kemnay Quarry. One was killed and the other had a miraculous escape. The man who lost his life was William Tough, aged about 30 years, who lived at Dalmadilly, Kemnay. His more fortunate worker was Andrew Robb, Kemnay Village. A squad of 12 men were engaged in clearing a ledge on the face of the Quarry at which blasting operations had been carried out during the day. This work consists of moving away the loose stones and sand and shovelling them over the side of the ledge, and the work can only be done when there is no one working down in quarry floor. The gang had been at work for some time on the ledge, which is fully half way up the 450ft face of the quarry, when, without the slightest warning, part of the slightly sloping wall behind them collapsed.
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