A DEVELOPER has vowed to turn one of Europe’s biggest man-made holes into a major tourist attraction in memory of his business partner, who died after being diagnosed with cancer.
Aberdonian Sandy Whyte lost his fight against the disease while surrounded by his family last month.
And now his close friend and colleague Hugh Black wants to honour his memory by realising their dream of a lasting legacy to the material that built the Granite City.
Mr Black wants to build a £6 million granite heritage centre and observation platform at the world famous Rubislaw Quarry.
The business partners bought the site, which they described as the city’s “best hidden treasure”, in 2010.
Over eight million tons of the material came out of the huge pit and almost 75 per cent of Aberdeen’s buildings, bridges and monuments were made from Rubislaw granite.
Mr Whyte was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year and passed away before he could see his dream come true.
The 61-year-old died at home on July 29 with his wife Sandra and their two sons, Christopher and Thomas, by his side.
Mr Black said he was devastated his closest friend had not lived to see a legacy to the silvery stone at the site.
He said: “Sandy was passionate about Aberdeen and would be the first to stand up for the city where he and his family grew up.
“It is tragic that he will not see the fruits of his labour, but it would be a fitting tribute to him if the project reached fruition and a unique place to celebrate Aberdeen’s granite heritage on the site of Rubislaw Quarry were to be created.”
Mr Whyte attended the city’s prestigious Robert Gordon’s College before starting a career in the oil and gas industry.
He became a “well respected” voice in the drilling sector and worked for numerous companies around the globe before settling back in Aberdeen to spend more time with his family.
When the quarry went on sale for the first time in 150 years, Mr Whyte along with his friend Mr Black - the former managing director of a construction company - “jumped at the chance” to own the piece of local history.
The 466ft deep water-filled hole, which has lain dormant since quarrying for granite ceased in 1969, attracted bids from around the world.
But it was the “local lads” who succeeded in becoming the new custodians.
At the time of the purchase, Mr Black said: “We just wanted to own it for what it is. If we never do anything with it, we can always come out here and share a whisky on the boat.”
Mr Whyte added: “It means as much as it could mean to an Aberdonian. it would be the equivalent of a Dundonian owning the Tay Bridge.”
Last month, the business partners were asked to submit another feasibility study for the project to the local authority, as they looked to close in on winning planning permission for the project, but Mr Whyte passed away a short while later.
Countless people attended his funeral at Aberdeen Crematorium last week to pay their respects to the family man.
Mr Black said: “He had many colleagues and close friends who will remember his warm, friendly manner and his and his ability to make you smile with his sharp wit and repartee.
“Everyone who knew Sandy will recall many happy occasions that they will treasure.
“Sandy will be sadly missed by his family and friends.”