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Aberdeen, Hazlehead Park, North Sea Memorial Rose Garden

Garden (20th Century)

Site Name Aberdeen, Hazlehead Park, North Sea Memorial Rose Garden

Classification Garden (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) North Sea Rose Garden; Piper Alpha Memorial Garden

Canmore ID 373126

Site Number NJ80NE 228

NGR NJ 89235 05253

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Architecture Notes (26 September 2023)

A late twentieth century memorial garden in Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen.

It occupies a large rectangular plot in the southwest of the park. The Piper Alpha Memorial (1991) is at the centre of the garden. The garden and memorial commemorate those killed in the Piper Alpha Disaster of 1988.

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 impetus for a permanent and public site of commemoration for the Piper Alpha Disaster came from the survivors and bereaved themselves. Families came together to agree a site, organise the design brief and fundraise. Aberdeen Council offered a secluded, formal-style rose garden in Hazlehead Park as a dedicated place – newly completed in 1989 after works to extend the Queen Mother Rose Garden, (designed 1980 by Parks Director, David Welch). Meanwhile the Piper Alpha Memorial Committee approached the artist, Sue Jane Taylor, for the memorial, planned as the centrepiece of the garden. The memorial was unveiled in the garden in July 1991 on the third anniversary of the disaster.

The garden is rectangular in plan and measures approximately 80 by 95 metres. The large granite and bronze figurative memorial is the central structural feature. Immediately surrounding the memorial are four central box-lined rose beds planted in the early years of the memorial garden with 167 separate roses, each symbolising a life lost. These are now maintained as simple rose beds (2023). Beyond these, mown grass paths separate rectilinear rose beds arranged in a repeating and symmetrical pattern, matching the design of the adjacent Queen Mother Garden. Each bed is planted with a different rose variety. Some beds are currently grassed (2023).

Wooden memorial benches are placed at the edges of the garden at regular intervals, facing inwards towards the memorial. Behind the benches, the garden is bounded and sheltered by deep planted beds of flowering shrubs, ferns and hedging that progressively step upwards in height. Some trees form part of the garden edge, for example at the entrance, the northeast corner, and along the southern edge. Beyond the garden perimeter, belts of taller, mature trees in Hazlehead Park give further shelter and enclosure.

In 2013, the garden was replanted and signage installed in advance of a rededication ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster. Further renovation took place in 2018. The 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. The Pound for Piper Memorial Trust remains active in raising money for the upkeep of the gardens (2023).


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 November 2022


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