In Dundee, City of Discovery, this weekend for the Scottish Tourist Guides Association AGM. This allowed an opportunity to re-visit some of Dundee’s attractions. Reminder of how much Scotland’s 4th city has to offer!
The City of Discovery slogan was taken from the RRS Discovery, which took Robert Falcon Scott on his first journey to Antarctica, before his ill-fated race to the pole in 1912. Modelled on a Dundee whaling ship, its curved hull allowed it to resist the crushing effects of the pack ice. Dundee was home of Europe’s biggest whaling fleet, and was the last major whaling centre in Europe, so had the skills and expertise to build boats capable of standing extreme conditions. The Discovery was the last traditional wooden 3-masted ship to be built in the UK, and the first specially built scientific ship. This expedition was hugely successful in terms of scientific research, even although only 3 members of the crew had ever visited Antarctica before.
Amongst the cabins is that of Scott’s 3rd officer, Ernest Shackleton, who later led his own expedition to Antarctica., After his shop became caught in pack ice and crushed, his crew spent
2 months camped on a giant ice floe, Shackleton transferred his crew in lifeboats to Elephant Island in an incredible 5-day journey. From there, Shackleton launched a heroic rescue attempt, rowing one of the ship’s lifeboats, the James Caird (named for one of Dundee’s jute barons, who had sponged the expedition) over 700 miles to the Falkland Island.
The Discovery has a wonderful location, in the shadow of the new V and A museum – the first design museum in Scotland, and the first V and A outside London.
We also had the opportunity to visit the fantastic Verdant Works, a museum in an old jute works, and a former European Museum of the year winner. This museum tells the history of “Jutopolis”, when Dundee was at the centre of the world jute trade. Fabulously wealthy “Jute Barons” built enormous Victorian villas in Broughty Ferry, which had more millionaires per square mile than anywhere else in Europe. Amongst the many machInes dating back to the days when this mill was operational, is one of only 5 Boulton and Watt engines in the world.
In the recently renovated High Mill, you can see the Victorian ceiling, which previously would only have been seen by people in the mill attic. Nevertheless, the quality of the craftsmanship in the beams reflects the pride that Victorians took in their buildings – even ion nobody was to see them!
En route to our final destination, we passed two of Dundee’s most famous creations – Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx!
We then arrived at the HMS Unicorn – the UK’s 3rd oldest floating warship, dating back to the 1820s.
Built just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it was never put into service, so remains remarkable intact, providing an excellent example of what life in the Royal Navy would have been like. It is worth noting that it was NOT designed for sailors who are my height.
The two decks below this were even lower!!!
During the war, a British aircraft carrier took the name HMS Unicorn, so the original was temporarily re-named. After the aircraft carrier was decommissioned, they donated their ship’s bell to their original namesake. It is surprisingly loud, particularly when your
colleagues are not expecting it!
Finished the day with a walk back under the Tay Bridge looking over to Fife, with the bridge supports stretching into the far distance.
Dundee has so much to offer, based around its billion pound waterfront development, Come and visit!