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Aberdeen, Hazlehead Park, Piper Alpha Memorial

Sculpture (20th Century)

Site Name Aberdeen, Hazlehead Park, Piper Alpha Memorial

Classification Sculpture (20th Century)

Canmore ID 373125

Site Number NJ80NE 227

NGR NJ 89230 05261

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/373125

Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeen, City Of
  • Parish Aberdeen
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District City Of Aberdeen
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Activities

Field Visit (14 July 2022)

Site assessed for designation in 2022-23. The designation report is available on our Heritage Portal.

Visited by HES Designations (J.Candy) 14 July 2022 and 23 Nov 2022

Note (26 September 2023)

A large bronze figurative memorial sculpture by Sue Jane Taylor for the Piper Alpha Memorial Fund Committee.

Completed and unveiled in 1991, it is dedicated to the 167 men killed in the Piper Alpha disaster of 1988. It is located at the centre of a memorial rose garden in Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen. A casket of unknown ashes is interred within the plinth.

The Piper Alpha Disaster was the world’s worst offshore oil and gas disaster. A total of 167 men were killed when the North Sea oil platform was destroyed by a series of explosions and fires on 6 July 1988. Only 61 survived. Thirty bodies were never recovered. Piper Alpha was the UK’s worst industrial accident for over half a century and the event is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the North Sea oil and gas industry and the history of Aberdeen.

The memorial consists of three 7-foot high (2.1 metre high) cast bronze figures standing on a square inscribed plinth of Pink Corennie granite, locally quarried at Tillyfourie, Aberdeenshire. Representing the platform’s offshore workforce, they comprise a central mature figure facing north to the entrance of the gardens, a ‘roustabout’ figure facing west, and a ‘survival suit’ figure facing east.

The mature figure holds in his left hand a pool of oil sculpted in spiral form. His right hand points down, indicating its source. A fish and seabird motif on the helmet symbolises environmental aspects of the North Sea oil industry. The dynamic pose of the ‘roustabout’ figure recalls the physical nature of many offshore trades, while a tree of life motif on his sleeve with leaves gilt in gold leaf symbolises the exploration and production of crude oil. The ‘survival suit’ figure represents youth and eternal movement. His left sleeve has a sea-eagle motif, partly gilt in gold leaf. This is a reference to the symbol of the North American eagle as the patron of oil, but with the native sea eagle in its place.

The design of the 6-foot high (1.8 metre high) square polished granite plinth was a collaboration between Sue Jane Taylor and John Fyfe Granite Ltd (Taylor 1990). It is inscribed on all faces with gilt lettering. The inscription on the north face reads, ‘Dedicated to the memory of the one hundred and sixty seven men who lost their lives in the Piper Alpha oil platform disaster 6th July 1988’. Their names and ages are inscribed in alphabetical order on the east, west and south faces of the plinth. The names of the thirty men with no resting place on shore are inscribed in the centre of the south face, above a rectangular slab of granite with a gilt Celtic cross, behind which is interred a casket of unknown ashes. The names of the two crewmen of the MV Sandhaven rescue vessel, who were killed during the rescue attempt, are inscribed, slightly apart from the others, on the east face of the plinth.

The memorial garden continues to be the venue for anniversary memorial services every summer with the reading of the names of the 167 killed on Piper Alpha, a minute’s silence and the laying of wreaths and flowers at the foot of the memorial.

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