Transport and traditions that keep communities connected
Dundee is better connected than most, serving as a gateway to many other parts of Scotland. Within the city itself, generations of communities have stayed connected to each other in different ways: by road, rail and water; by the places where people regularly meet; and by long-standing customs and traditions.
1. The Dressed Herring
When ‘first-footing’ at Hogmanay, 19th century Dundonians brought a good luck herring ‘dressed’ in a fancy outfit and bonnet, usually made from brightly-coloured paper.
2. Finlathen Viaduct
Built between 1845 and 1848, this 152m-long structure (now Category ‘B’-listed) carried a water pipeline from Monikie Reservoir to Stobsmuir Water Works in Dundee.
3. The ‘Washie’
When visiting public wash-houses, the women of Dundee often transported their washing in a baby’s pram.
4. Tay Rail Bridge disaster
When completed in February 1878, the original Tay Rail Bridge was the world’s longest bridge, with 85 spans and 13 high girders in the centre. When these high girders collapsed in gale-force winds on 28 December 1879, six carriages fell into the water and more than 70 lives were lost. The wrought iron girders which remained standing were transferred onto the present bridge where they are still in use. Today, a memorial can be seen on the Riverside embankment, alongside William McGonagall’s 1880 poem ’The Tay Bridge Disaster’.
5. Champion the Wonder Horse
Remembered by generations who visited the City Arcade in Shore Terrace before its closure in 1981.
6. Mill Lorry
Bales of raw jute were transported, by lorry, from the port of Dundee to the city’s mills.
7. Dundee to Newtyle railway
In operation from 1831 to 1863, this 11-mile long railway line was built to bring produce from local farms in the Vale of Strathmore to the mills and docks in Dundee. The hills in between (the Sidlaws) were dealt with by using stationary steam-powered engines to pull the coaches uphill by rope. Part of the disused railway line now forms a nature reserve called ‘The Miley’.
8 & 9. Ice cream treats
Knickerbocker glories and ice cream wafers were popular treats at Dundee’s Italian cafés and ice-cream shops.
10. H Samuel clock at Duffer’s Corner
The meeting place for generations of friends and lovers in Dundee.
In the 1960s, an outing on a ‘Bluebird Bus’ to Angus, Fife and beyond, was an exciting adventure.
12. The Fifies
Once the only way of crossing the River Tay, steam-powered ‘Fifies’ would carry passengers between Dundee, Broughty Ferry and Fife, six days a week and up to 11 crossings a day. The first regular scheduled vessel was ‘Union’ in 1821, and the last of the Tay Ferries was ‘Scotscraig’. Her final crossing took place on 18 August 1966 – the same day the Tay Road Bridge opened.
13. Dundee Corporation Bus
The first corporation ‘omnibuses’ ran from Dundee High Street to Broughty Ferry in 1920, with tickets for the whole journey costing 4d. The original city centre bus station was on Shore Terrace, near Caird Hall, but the bus stances were closed in March 1973 when go-ahead was given for the construction of Tayside House.
14. Dundee Trams
The first horse-drawn tram in Dundee appeared in 1877, followed by steam-powered versions ten years later. The final tram ran between Maryfield and Lochee in October 1956.
15. RNLI, Broughty Ferry
The RNLI station at Broughty Ferry was the first inshore station in Scotland, and its first lifeboat was placed here in 1859. Seven medals have been awarded to RNLI crew stationed here over the last two centuries, and the lifeboat station remains an important part of this coastal community. Today, two boats are in operation: the “Elizabeth of Glamis’ and ‘Oor Lifesaver’.
16. Fluke fish
Nethergait used to be called ‘Flukergait’ after the flounders that were caught in the Tay.
17. Maryfield Tram Depot
Proposed as the Dundee Museum of Transport’s new home, the red-bricked tramshed was built in 1901 and extended in 1920 to its current length of 120m. In service, this Category B-listed building could house up to 70 double-decker trams and when buses took over from trams, it served as a bus depot until the 1970s.
18. The Tay Road and Rail Bridges
Dundee is synonymous with the River Tay, and is approached by two bridges that connect the city with the Kingdom of Fife. The Tay Road Bridge measures 2.25km long and was built between 1963 and 1966. The ‘new’ Tay Rail Bridge was completed in 1887.