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Published: March 3rd 2019
In my last blog, I concentrated on the "new kid on the block" in Dundee. The masses are gravitating to the redeveloped waterfront, but there is of course so much more to see. They say Dundee grew on the back of the 3 "J"s - Jute, Journalism and Jam - and probably the best place from which to appreciate the layout of the city is from The Law. The Law or Law Hill is a prominent landmark - an extinct volcano, former Iron age settlement, the scene of the start of the first Jacobite Rising in 1689 and home to the Dundee War Memorial unveiled in 1925. It offers a panoramic view over the city, the Perthshire hills to the north, Fife to the south and the Forth of Tay. The castle at Broughty Ferry can be seen to the east way beyond the oil industry platforms at Tayport. The city unfolds beneath. Chimneys of the old factories still dot the skyline. We had a free guide, courtesy of a local who filled us in on the various geographical features. You can see just why your legs are aching, having walked up such a steep gradient in a short space of
time. We declined a lift back down the hill and returned to the city centre, passing a number of fine villas with views over the Tay, the now derelict Dundee College and the campus of Abertay University (formerly the Dundee Institute of Technology). The Bernard King Library building was apparently named the best new building in Scotland in 1998.
The population of Dundee exploded on the back of industrialisation in the late 19th century. Jute was a key industry and employed thousands. The proximity of the port allowed the easy import of the raw product, the local whaling industry initially provided the oil to process the product and the British Empire provided the market. At one point, whole families were engaged in the industry. However, the increasing cost base eventually took production back to source in the Indian sub-continent and with it went the livelihood of many of the population. The last factories closed in the 1970s.The history of the rise and fall of the industry is captured in the Verdant Works Museum just west of the city centre. we made a visit last time we were here, so passed this time. Jam in Dundee is also
an industry of the past. Janet Keiller apparently discovered a recipe for marmalade in 1797 and it spurned the company of the same name. It was never the big scale employer like jute, but the product became synonymous with the city. Journalism is still very much alive and the flagship headquarters of D C Thomson can be found at Meadowside, Albert Square in the city centre. The publishing empire started in 1905 and the Courier Building still employs 650 staff in the original red stone building with it's 1960s tower extension. The famous titles probably remain the comic book series - The Beano, Dandy and Oor Wullie. A statue of latter sits across the road and stares back at the building. Tourists sit and pose next to him, as bewildered locals gaze on. Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx are at the other end of Reform Street and receive similar attention. The 8 foot statue of Dan and friends was added here as long ago as 2001.
The new V & A Dundee is grabbing the highlights these days, but Albert Square contains a much better place to learn about the history of Dundee. The McManus Galleries are imposing
Gothic structure that were originally commissioned as a memorial to Prince Albert. The original idea was that it would be a museum, a library, a gallery and a space for lectures of learning. In some ways it still fulfils all those functions, although the Library has moved out. The top floor holds a fine collection of Victorian art. The barons of the jute industry were not short of a bob or two and liked to collect. The gallery has special curved walls to allow the better exhibition of the paintings. The ground floor galleries are now a snapshot into the history of Dundee. Jute, journalism and jam are all covered, but is also moves on to the more modern industrial landscape of Dundee. Timex rolled into town in 1947 and established themselves as the largest employer by the turn of the 1970s. It wasn't only wristwatches. There were sub contracts for Polaroid Cameras, Sinclair computers and others. However, it went the same way as jute amid industrial disputes and now nothing remains. NCR (national Cash Registers) were another post war boom business in Dundee from the late 1940s. The cash register of course was one product, but from the late
1960s Dundee also specialised in the production of the new ATM machine. The revolution in banking before the current internet one was rolled out across the UK from here and at one point 1 in 3 of all machines in Europe were made in Dundee. NCR still have a presence, but it is nowhere the 4,000 once employed. Michelin were also an industry for the future, but they have just announced the closure of their plant by 2020. What the tale of Dundee industry shows is how resilient the place is to change. One door closes, but another opens. The city might be remembered under the slogan of the 3 "J"s, but it has been so much more over the years. In 1879, Edison applied for patent for the electric light bulb. As far back as 1835, the constant electric had been demonstrated by a certain John Bowman Lindsay ......... in Dundee!
I photographed the Dundee High School - former pupils include lots of ex Scottish rugby internationals, journalist Andrew Marr and Ricky Ross and K T Tunstall from the music world. We walked across the road for a cheap feed in Spoons. The odd rugby man
was warming up to watch the egg chasing later against France. I was keen to visit another Dundee institution. Grouchos is one of the last remaining independent record shops, now concentrating on 2nd hand vinyl and collectable stuff. I had read that it would possibly close soon on the expiry of the lease, but a guy was hard at work painting the front of the store. We had a scout round for the odd bargain. The Other Half went nostalgic and came away with a Two Tribes 12 inch, which ironically bears the subtitle One February Friday. I discovered yet another obscure remix from the world of Everything But The Girl, that had been released into the "not for sale" world of DJs around 1990.
I left the Other Half in the city centre and set off my afternoon sport. She had decided that exhibition on ocean liners at the V & A Dundee was a better use of her time, rather than a trip to the north side of the city. I set off to walk up that hill again, passing the art deco building that was once Roberstons Furniture and looking a very sorry state
now. I retraced our steps from the previous evening and climbed up towards Hilltown. The area looked different in the daylight. It was best described as needing a bit of love. Whilst some businesses were clearly struggling, one sector of the economy that was thriving was the world of male grooming. The Turkish barbers had arrived on the scene to compete with the established locals. The city centre too had a fair share of upmarket establishments, but here we had a long line of opportunities for a cut a bargain price. I arrived at the intersection to turn off towards the major football venues in the city. A large Victorian clock stands tall on the junction. A gift to the "community of Dundee" in December 1900 from a local dignitary, Charles Barrie. The surrounds of the clock have had a facelift in recent times and the fencing was inscribed with childhood memories of growing up in the area. I followed the route down towards Dens Park. I was keen to have a walk round in daylight and check whether anything much had changed since I last visited Dundee United. The far end Sandeman Street had been a bit congested with
Tay Railway Bridge
..........as seen from Dundee Law
Hibs fans the previous evening. I took a few photos of the exterior of the Main stand at Dundee FC, primarily to highlight just how close they are to their neighbours at Tannadice. The grounds at MTK and BKV Elore in Budapest are the closest in Europe, but the two Dundee clubs comfortably win the British award. The orange glow of Dundee United is clearly visible in the near distance. The recent history has not been kind to them and they find themselves in the 2nd tier of Scottish football. The days of them being classified as part of the New Firm with Aberdeen and the heady nights in the old European Cup are long gone. The near stand is named after former Manager, Director, Chairman and majority shareholder, Jim McLean, who unearthed a production line of youth talent that would propel them to the League title. Jim ironically had arrived at United, after serving time as a player and coach down the road at Dens. I walked round to other side of the ground. The quirky male toilet on the forecourt still remains.
There was another hill to climb to my football destination for the afternoon.
The approach along Fairmuir Street shows little promise, as you pass a series of old wooden garages. The exterior of North End Park is dominated by the huge social club of junior football club, Dundee North End. "Junior Football" is a bit of a confusing title. It refers to the status of the football within Scotland, as opposed to the age of the players. "Senior Football" is played within the top four professional leagues, as well as the feeder leagues below. Dundee North End are an old, established club formed in 1895. A lone supporter stood outside the currently closed gates, one of which bore the club crest and the other which listed the next game. The opposition of Arbroath Victoria were listed as "The Shaggers", presumably as a reflection on their northern geographical base. They are even older than North end, having been formed in 1882. A sign further towards the Social Club entrance highlighted that this was the home of The Dokens. The nickname remains a mystery and not even the research of the Fitba Nomad seemed to have come up with a reasoning in his article on a visit to the North End. North End Park was
a surprisingly large and developed venue. I paid my £5 entry and wandered in. The main spectator accommodation was the large covered terrace on the city side. A small camera gantry was built into the roof and being manned by the North End faithful filming the encounter. The sections either side of the terrace were a grass banking of similar depth, which followed o behind the goal at the opposite end to the Social Club. The covering on the terrace would come in handy later in the 2nd half. Whilst the rest of the UK was keeping out of the sunshine, rain pelted down briefly in this corner of the city. This was my debut at "Junior Football", so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't have to wait long for the 1st goal, after the North end keeper spilled a speculative shot and the rebound was tucked in by the nippy Arbroath left winger. The 1st half was end to end. The higher placed North End never quite got going during this period, but tucked away their chances to leave it 3-3 at the break. The plentiful supply of goals were supplemented by a series of yellow
cards. I lost count of them in the end. It was fair to say that the referee was kept busy and at times, players were in no mood to take prisoners. The 2nd half saw Arbroath fade and in the end the more accomplished team unit of North end ran out comfortable 6-3 winners. I certainly couldn't complain about my goal count - either this afternoon or last night at Dens. I got moderately wet on the walk back to the city centre, but the temperature probably went up 3 degrees as I descended the hill.
Shopping bags for life are the buzz word as governments try to scale back the use of plastic. There is one such example in the McManus Galleries, which states “I’m Dead Posh. I’m fae Dundee”. In Dundee circles, it should say “I’m Posh. I’m fae Broughty Ferry”. Brought Ferry was the favoured place for the Jute barons to build their “castles”. The small fishing village was transformed in a matter of years to become one of the richest suburbs in the UK, if not Europe. A lot of the big houses are now either converted or have had others built in
their spacious grounds. However, there is still an air of prosperity in a rather understated manner. The old West End Garage is full of executive old cars. They are not for sale – just there to be admired. The good citizens of “Broty” Ferry as it seems to be referred to locally were going about their business on this Sunday morning – having a coffee in one of the many cafes, going to or from Church (of which there seemed to be many) or just walking the dog. The Other Half decided she liked the array of small independent shops that prospered in the village, although most were clearly doing too well to open on a Sunday out of season. We had caught the bus from Dundee city centre using the Xplore Dundee all day ticket for the princely sum of £3.70. The train had not been an option, as there were no services to / from Aberdeen or Montrose due to engineering works. I was surprised to learn that Broughty Ferry – opened in 1838 – is the oldest railway station in Scotland still in operation. We walked down to the small harbour, where the current lifeboat was moored
outside the local RNLI station. It was flat calm and not a breath of wind ruffled the water. The fog was coming and going up the estuary. A plaque commemorated the night on 8 December 1959, when the town's lifeboat, the RNLB Mona was lost with all hands in a gale attempting to rescue a foundering lightship. The lightship was the very same North Carr, which made it back to port and we had seen in Victoria Dock in the city. We headed over to the small Castle on the point. There has been a fortification here since the Middle Ages. The small museum runs through the military history of the Castle and the growth of the village to become the posh suburb. The upper gallery contains another collection of Victorian art from the old Orchar Gallery, which was previously housed in one of the big houses on the sea front. It was now too cold to wander on the golden sands beyond the Castle. We finished off our “Broty” Ferry trip with some fish and chips in the Ship Inn and looked out across the Tay from their small upstairs restaurant. The haddock and chips (and the friendly service)
comes highly recommended. SJFA McBookie.Com Premier League North
Dundee North End 6 Arbroath Victoria 3
Saturday 23th February 2019 @ 1430 Hours Venue:
North End Park, Fairmuir Street, Dundee, Angus. DD3 8HU. Scotland Attendance
: Est 74
Tot: 2.597s; Tpl: 0.13s; cc: 13; qc: 34; dbt: 0.0729s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb