Dundee, one of Scotland’s seven cities, has acquired a few names over the years:
‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’
‘One City, Many Discoveries’,
‘UNESCO City of Design’.
Scotland seven “cities” are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling. Dundee, which is the fourth largest one is situated on the north bank of the Firth of Tay which feeds into the North Sea.
The River Tay is the longest river in Scotland. It originates in western Scotland on the slopes of Ben Lui then flows easterly across the Highlands, through Loch Dochart, Loch Iubhair and Loch Tay, then continues east through Strathtay in the centre of Scotland, then southeasterly through Perth, where it becomes tidal, to its mouth at the Firth of Tay, south of Dundee.
We didn’t stay more than a couple of hours in Dundee when we went there in June 2006, so our sense of the place is limited to the first impressions of mere passing travellers. However we enjoyed our short stay very much, trying to get the best of what we saw, and promising to come back there, one day, to discover more about the place. We’ll certainly go to Dundee Law (174 m) to have a panoramic view of the city and environs.
“Une belle ville portuaire où il fait bon vivre”, that’s exactly what we felt, in the morning of a sunny day, when we arrived in Dundee, a city rich in culture and history which seems to be full of promises for its inhabitants. We loved the superb views on the Firth of Tay with its two spectacular bridges *, the old streets and picturesque buildings.
* Tay Road Bridge: it was opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 18 August 1966. It crosses the Tay estuary, linking Newport-on-Tay in northeast Fife to Dundee. With its 2253 m it is one of the longest bridges of Europe.
Tay Railway Bridge: it was built by the North British Railway and opened on 11 july 1887 to replace the former one which had collapsed during a storm on the night of 28 December 1879 killing the 75 passengers and crew of the train that was passing over the bridge.
We also loved the touch of humour with the lively bronze statues of Desperate Dan and his Desperate ‘dawg’ frowning at the catapult-wielding Minnie the Minx…
and, here and there, penguins 😉
I’ve read that there are over thirty sculptures of penguins around Dundee. We’ll try to find all of them next time 😉
We loved the touch of fantasy we felt everywhere from the images of the two green dragons represented on the arms of Dundee and the omnipresence of the unicorn (mercat cross, city square fountains, Frigate Unicorn)…
‘Azure, a pot of three growing lilies Argent’
Above the Shield is placed a mural coronet and a Helmet befitting the degree of a Royal Burgh with a Mantling Azure doubled Argent, and on a Wreath of the same Liveries is set for Crest a lily Argent, and in an Escrol over the same this Motto “Dei Donum”; in another Escrol below the Shield this Motto “Prudentia et Candore”, the said Shield having for Supporters two dragons, wings elevated, their tails nowed together underneath Vert.
The arms were first recorded on July 30, 1673, granted on October 6, 1932.
The main shield shows a pot with three growing (natural) lilies. The lilies first appear on the seal of the city in 1416. The lilies as well as the blue colour symbolise St. Mary the patron saint of the city.
The two dragon supporters date from the 17th century, but their meaning or origin is not known. They may have been a symbol for trade and symbolise the sea, but there is another theory statinig that they are derived from two lions, already seen on a 15th century seal of the city showing St. Clement.
The historical motto is Dei Donum (God’s Gift) and has always been placed above the shield. According to legend, the city recieved its name and motto from the fact that David, Earl of Huntingdon, when returning from the Crusades sailed into a storm in the Firth of Tay. He managed to land safely on a place which, in gratitude, he called Donum Dei, which evolved into Dundee.
The name, however, is of Gaelic origin and means the Hill of God (Dún Dè) or Hill of Tay (Dún Taw).
Although not officially described, the supportes have been standing on a knotted rope for many centuries.
The second motto, “Prudentia et Candore” (With thought and purity), was added in 1932 and may be a further reference to the H. Mary.
‘Jute Jam and Journalism‘
the three traditional activities that have made the wealth of the City.
- ‘Jute’ : Dundee has been called ‘Juteopolis’ which underlines the importance of the jute industry in the olden times. Cox Stax, a magnificent industrial chimney from the former Camperdown works jute mill which stands in the Stack Leisure Park in Lochee, 2 km northwest of Dundee city, is a magnificent symbol of this ancient activity.
Jute is a rough fibre from India used to make sacking, burlap, twine and canvass. By the 1830s, it was discovered that treatment with whale oil, a byproduct of Dundee’s whaling industry, made the spinning of the jute fibre possible, which led to the development of a substantial jute industry in the city which created jobs for rural migrants. The industry was also notable for employing a high proportion of women (…)
Dundee had several large jute works, with Camperdown Works in Lochee being the world’s largest jute works. It was owned by Cox Brothers, whose family had been involved in the linen trade in Lochee since the early eighteenth century, and was constructed from 1850 onwards. By 1878 it had its own railway branch and employed 4,500 workers, a total which had risen to 5,000 by 1900 (…) Camperdown works closed in 1981
By the end of the 19th century the majority of Dundee’s working population were employed in jute manufacture, but the industry began to decline in 1914, when it became cheaper to rely on imports of the finished product from India. (Dundee’s ‘jute barons’ had invested heavily in Indian factories).
The last of the jute spinners closed in 1999. From a peak of over 130 mills, many have since been demolished, although around sixty have been redeveloped for residential or other commercial use.
An award-winning museum, based in the old Verdant Works, commemorates the city’s manufacturing heritage and operates a small jute-processing facility.
- ‘Jam’ : the famous Dundee jam and marmalade from Keillers to Mackay’s…
Dundee’s association with jam stems from Janet Keiller’s 1797 ‘invention’ of marmalade. Mrs. Keiller allegedly devised the recipe in order to make use of a cargo-load of bitter Seville oranges acquired from a Spanish ship by her husband. This account is most likely apocryphal, as recipes for marmalade have been found dating back to the 16th century, with the Keillers likely to have developed their marmalade by modifying an existing recipe for quince marmalade. Nevertheless, marmalade became a famed Dundee export after Alex Keiller, James’ son, industrialised the production process during the 19th century.
Mackay’s, the only remaining producers of “The Dundee Orange Marmalade” in the Dundee area. Mackay’s is one of the very few companies in the world today that still uses the traditional ‘open pan’ slow boiling method of jam making which gives the preserves and marmalades their distinct homemade taste and flavour. All the strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants are sourced from the berry fields of central Scotland, where the soft fruits are considered to be some of the best in the world. The temperate climate in Scotland allows for the fruit to be grown for longer, resulting in stronger flavours.
Continuing a tradition
The story of Dundee Marmalade begins back in the 18th century when a Spanish ship took refuge from a storm, in the harbour at Dundee. On board was a consignment of Seville Oranges – which a local grocer decided to purchase.
On taking them home to his wife, the couple discovered the oranges were too bitter to eat. The grocer’s wife saw the potential in the oranges and boiled them up with sugar, to create the delicious preserve now known as Dundee Orange Marmalade.
Although the recipe has changed a little since then, we respect our heritage and are the last remaining producer of this iconic product in the Dundee area. We’re proud to continue to make our marmalade in traditional copper pans today and to see the end results enjoyed around the globe.
- ‘Journalism’ many newspapers, magazines and comics were born and are still edited there. You can’t miss the funny bronze statues of Desperate Dan and of his friends when you walk in the city centre. I am personally very grateful to DC Thomson, the famous publishing company long established in Dundee for sending me every month the new issue of The Scots Magazine. I enjoy it very much. It helps me wait for our next trip to Scotland 😉
Journalism in Dundee generally refers to the publishing company of D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. Founded in 1905 by David Coupar Thomson and still owned and managed by the Thomson family, the firm publishes a variety of newspapers, children’s comics and magazines, including The Sunday Post, The Courier, Shout and children’s publications, The Beano and The Dandy. (Wikipedia)
Desperate Dan is a wild west character in the British comic magazine The Dandy and has become their mascot. He made his appearance in the first issue which was dated 4 December 1937. He is apparently the world’s strongest man, able to lift a cow with one hand. The pillow of his (reinforced) bed is filled with building rubble and his beard is so tough he shaves with a blowtorch.
The character was created by Dudley D. Watkins, originally as an outlaw or ‘desperado’ (hence his name), but evolved into a more sympathetic type, using his strength to help the underdog. After Watkins’ death in 1969, the cartoons were drawn by many other artists, principally Ken H. Harrison, though the Watkins canon was often recycled. When the Dandy became digital-only in 2012, the Desperate Dan strips were drawn by David Parkins.
There is a statue of Dan in Dundee, Scotland, where his publishers, D. C. Thomson & Co. are based.
‘One City and Many Discoveries’
The very name of “Discovery” points to Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic exploration vessel which was built in Dundee and is now berthed in the city harbour. But the dynamism of Dundee is great: new biomedical and technological industries that have developed there since the 1980s and also, of course, to the digital-entertainment industry (video games). Also dynamism of the research : The University of Dundee and the Abertay University.
‘UNESCO City of Design‘
In 2014 Dundee was recognised by the United Nations as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design. The above video perfectly illustrates what it means.
Here’s a superb drone aerial video of the Tay and its bridges… the photograph explains that it was very difficult to get the permission to film the area as it is not far from Dundee airport. Good to know for JC has a drone which he used for the first time on our last trip to Scotland in 2015. 😉
MORE PICTURES AND VIDEOS
The ‘Alexandra fountain’ which now stands on Riverside Drive, close to Discovery Point, was donated to Dundee by William Longair who was the Lord Provost of the City from 1905 to 1908. It was built in memory of Queen Alexandra of Denmark who visited the city several times and used to sail from Dundee to her native country after spending holidays in Balmoral with the British royal family. The drinking fountain which is ornate with the sculpture of an angel was first erected at Craig Pier, on the site of the Tay Ferry Terminal where the boats, known by the locals as the ‘Fifies’, used to trade until 1966 when the Tay Road was opened.
The North Carr Lightship moored at the City Quay is the last remaining Scottish lightship.
At the multi award-winning Discovery Point we can admire the RRS Discovery. The adventures of Captain Scott and his crew aboard the RRS Discovery, one of the most heroic voyages of exploration ever undertaken: in 1901 Captain Robert Falcon Scott set sail in the tall ship Discovery. Scott and his men spent two long harsh winters frozen into the crushing Antarctic ice. Discovery returned home in 1904 to a hero’s welcome and a place in maritime history.
The oldest British-built warship afloat launched in 1824 moored to the front of City Quay… it has not always been ornate with the magnificent unicorn prow but that’s a whole story and I let it to Janice who is passionate about unicorns. We’ve taken a lot of pictures of this superb vessel.
The view is superb but we must not forget the tragedy which occurred there during the fatal night of 28 December 1879 while the train was crossing over the old Tay railway bridge… that’s one of the saddest page of Dundee history. It’s not the only one. On each side of the Tay road bridge there are commemorative pillars in memory of the bridge builder who was killed in air plane crash and to the five workers who were killed when building the bridge…
The Tay Bridge disaster occurred during a violent storm on 28 December 1879 when the first Tay Rail Bridge collapsed while a train was passing over it from Wormit to Dundee, killing all aboard. The bridge—designed by Sir Thomas Bouch—used lattice girders supported by iron piers, with cast iron columns and wrought iron cross-bracing. The piers were narrower and their cross-bracing was less extensive and robust than on previous similar designs by Bouch.
Bouch had sought expert advice on “wind loading” when designing a proposed rail bridge over the Firth of Forth; as a result of that advice he had made no explicit allowance for wind loading in the design of the Tay Bridge. There were other flaws in detailed design, in maintenance, and in quality control of castings, all of which were, at least in part, Bouch’s responsibility.
Bouch died within the year, with his reputation as an engineer ruined. Future British bridge designs had to allow for wind loadings of up to 56 pounds per square foot (2.7 kPa). Bouch’s design for the Forth Bridge was not used.
I hope to have made you want to visit Dundee if you have not done so yet.
“Bonne lecture” ! A bientôt.