A FREE exhibition staged as part of Aberdeen’s Granite Noir crime fiction festival at the end of this month will shine a light into the hidden corners of the city’s past.

Drawn from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives original records, The Grit in the Granite will showcase photographs, maps and other documents which highlight a darker side of Victorian Aberdeen – a period in which the city experienced rapid expansion and prosperity.

Running from Thursday to Sunday, February 27 in the Music Hall and the Lemon Tree, it will examine the rapid growth of the city’s geography and population – and the corresponding rise in poverty, crime, prostitution and juvenile delinquency.

City archivist Phil Astley and Dr Dee Hoole, honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, will give an accompanying talk on the life of one particular individual living in the city during this period.

Grace McIntosh made her first court appearance in 1838, aged just 11, and subsequent court appearances resulted in her being charged with theft aged 12 and 16 – and then transported to Van Diemen’s Land in Tasmania.

She returned to Aberdeen after 10 years to fall back into a life of prostitution and petty crime, until her death in 1880.

Astley and Hoole have recreated a vivid picture of Grace from original papers which leave a remarkable historical record of a life of poverty and desperation, experienced against the backdrop of the rapidly developing city.

Astley said: “The poor and destitute in Aberdeen in the 19th century leave little or no trace of themselves, except through their court appearances and incarcerations, and in Grace’s case, her transportation to Tasmania.

“Through these papers, we can learn a great deal about the deprivations of the city’s underclass during this period of prosperity and expansion.”

The exhibition highlights the plight of a number of pre-teen children arrested for petty crimes. In 1841, it was estimated that there were around 280 “delinquent” or neglected children on the streets, existing by means of begging and theft.

Aberdeen performing arts chief executive, Jane Spiers, said: “The Granite Noir festival gives us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the fascinating real life stories that inspire and ignite the imaginations of author.

“The exhibition is a perfect example of this, providing a unique insight into the underbelly of Victorian Aberdeen, revealing the grit in the granite that makes up our city and really bringing the past to life.

“The exhibition runs throughout the weekend and is free, so make sure to drop in in between events!”