This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John
Cassidy (1860 - 1939).
Cassidy designed this work and created the plaster model; the carving
in granite of the final work was by local sculptor Arthur Taylor, using
the first two mechanical pneumatic hammers which had been used in this
way in the country. In 1900 Mr Taylor presented the hammers to the
Aberdeen Mechanical Society.
From a Historic
Scotland listed building report:
The site of the Duthie Park was originally a marshy piece of land
covered in gorse (or whin, hence the nearby "Whinhill Road), it was
known as Pulmoor, now "Polmuir". In 1850 Arthurseat (the villa on the
site) and its surrounding land was intended to be developed as a Royal
Garden to view the trains crossing the new viaduct to and from London
via Ferryhill. However, in 1881 Lady Elizabeth Duthie of Ruthrieston
purchased the site and gifted it to the City of Aberdeen for a public
It was decided it should be "available for all classes of citizens,
that it should have a broad expanse of grassy sward upon which the
young might indulge in innocent frolic and play...". The park was
designed by William R McKelvie of Dundee, and the first sod, of the 47
acres of land, was cut on the 27th of August 1881, the park being
officially opened in 1883.
The Hygeia Statue, which was unveiled in 1897, commemorates the
Miss Duthie's presentation of the
Duthie Park to the City of Aberdeen, and its opening by Princess
The four lions around the plinth of the statue are supposed to
represent the strong citizens in the park. Hygeia is the Goddess of
Health, she is shown as a virgin, holding a cup from which a snake (the
symbol of health) drinks.
Hygeia, known as Salus to the Romans, was said to have been the
daughter of Æsculapius, and to have taken care of the sacred
serpents. The picture above shows the 'Hope Hygieia', a
seven-foot-tall, nearly one-ton marble statue of Hygieia, the goddess
of health, on loan to the J.
Paul Getty Museum from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(LACMA). It was found in 1797 at Ostia, the ancient port of Rome.
Gardens and Landscapes, Duthie Park by Abereen City Council
Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Park, on the Scottish Recipes website
'Hygeia', Duthie Park , Aberdeen (1897)
Duthie Park, Aberdeen: A standing figure of the greek
goddess Hygeia in classical dress carved in pale granite. She
represents a virgin holding a cup from which the symbol of health, a
She stands on a decorative corinthian column, the
capital of which is decorated with large flowers seemingly made of
acanthus leaves. Four recumbent lions in red granite lie at the
base. The park opened in 1883, the statue was conceived later as
recognition of Miss Duthie's gift to Aberdeen.
"Miss Elizabeth Crombie Duthie (a daughter of the merchant and ship
owner Alexander Duthie) had been left substantial sums following the
deaths of her uncle, Walter Duthie, a Writer to the Signet in
Edinburgh, and her brother, Alexander Duthie, a well known advocate in
She wanted to create a permanent memorial to these two members of the
legal profession and the suggestion of a park was accepted in style at
a meeting of the Town Council on 5th July 1880."
"Following the death of Miss Duthie in 1885, the Town Council agreed to
erect a monument in her honour. The monument comprises a fluted
Corinthian column supporting the Greek goddess of health, Hygeia. Four
lions in red granite guard the base of the white granite monument. The
contract for this monument had been awarded to Mr Arthur Taylor,
monumental sculptor of Jute Street. He engaged a Mr John Cassidy, a
sculptor with a studio in Manchester, to prepare the model in 1897. Mr
Cassidy, native of County Meath in Ireland, assisted by Mr Schots, a
Belgian artist, completed their work in December 1897. "
References (from the
Historic Scotland record):
Aberdeen City Archives, Scale
Drawing of monument to be erected in the Duthie Park, (circa
1883); A I McConnochie, 50 views of
the Granite City, (circa 1900), p46; Duthie Park 100 years of pleasure
(1985); J S Reid, Mechanical Aberdeen,
(1990), p8-9; W A Brogden, Aberdeen:
an illustrated architectural guide (2nd Edition, 1998), p162;
National Monuments Record of Scotland Photographs.
Special thanks to Frances Wilson
for the close-up views of the statue and plaque. The picture of
the whole column is copyright bigstockphoto.com
Footnote: Lady Elizabeth Crombie Duthie lived at 34 Maberly Street,
Aberdeen, and in 2005 a plaque was erected there in her memory. The
building was demolished in 2008 and replaced by twelve luxury
flats; the plaque is now carried by that building.
Updated by Charlie