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Dundee Education


People and places that taught Dundee

Dundee is an important destination for learning. Over 200 schools have existed in the city at one time or another, including church schools, private and charitable schools, and half-time schools – these were very common in the 19th century, when children combined working in the mills with part-time education. The city also has two Universities and several colleges.

education cartoon

1. Dundee libraries

Dundee’s libraries are believed to originate in the 13th century, but it was philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who brought many more books to the people of Dundee. In 1901, he wrote to the Free Public Library in the Albert Institute (now The McManus), and offered to pay for four branch libraries and a new central Reading Room in the city.

Arthurstone Library in east Dundee was built between 1902 and 1905 on land purchased from local mill-owners, Baxter Brothers, and it was followed by Blackness Library (the western branch) and Coldside Library (the northern branch) which both opened on the same day in 1908. Later, Coldside would serve as an Air Raid Precautions post in wartime, and it was also home to Dundee’s BBC Radio recording studio from 1949 to 1978. St Roques Reading Room in Blackscroft was built in 1910, and it was the only library in Dundee to have its own landscaped garden. Finally, the Central Reading Rooms were built between 1908 and 1911 at the corner of Ward Road and Barrack Street. This library was opened by Andrew Carnegie himself in 1911, and was replaced in 1979 by the new Central Library in the Wellgate Centre. The Barrack St building now houses the Dundee Museum’s Collections Unit and the city’s History, Archaeology and Natural History collections.


2. University of Dundee

In 1881, at a time when women were not allowed to earn a degree, the University of Dundee was established by Mary Ann Baxter who insisted that women also be allowed to study there. Initially, the institution was a sub-college of the University of St Andrews but the University of Dundee gained independent university status by royal charter in 1967.


3. HMS ‘Mars’

Built at Chatham in 1848, the HMS ‘Mars’ saw service during the Crimean War before being re-tasked in 1869 as a training ship. She became infamous as Dundee’s ‘bad boys ship’ when she hosted more than 6,000 homeless and destitute boys from across Scotland. In 1929, the decaying ‘Mars’ was decommissioned.


4. Dundee Technical Institute

The Dundee Technical Institute opened in 1888, training jute engineers and spinners, and offering courses in Electricity, Construction and Telegraphy. Later, new courses were developed to reflect new industries in Dundee – like Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture and Electrical Engineering. The Institute moved to Bell Street in 1910, and was renamed Dundee Technical College & School of Art.


5. Professor Dame Sue Black

Professor Black is a Scottish forensic expert, who served as Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee from 2003 to 2018. In 2005, she created the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification in Dundee (CAHID).

6. Sir James Arthur Ewing

Born and educated in Dundee, Sir James became the University College’s first Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1883. Having previously visited Japan, he was appalled by the living conditions in Dundee and he worked hard to improve amenities and sewerage in the city, and to lower the infant mortality rate. The University of Dundee’s Ewing Building was built in 1954 and named in his honour. 


7. Abertay University

The Dundee Technical Institute gradually evolved into what we know today as Abertay University. Established in 1994, the university is synonymous with video games and cybersecurity, and its Research team devises innovative solutions to complex local and global challenges.


8. Dundee Science Centre

Opened in July 2000, Dundee Science Centre hosts school visits, runs a programme of STEM clubs for local schoolchildren, and provides teaching resources via its Learning Hub.


9. Al-Maktoum College

Scotland’s first-ever institute for Arabic and Islamic studies opened in 2001, with a mosque on its campus and its own publishing press. The College has established partnerships with the University of Dundee and Abertay University.


10. Annie Lamont

Annie Keir Lamont studied Telegraphy and Telephony – the early precursor to information technology – at Dundee Technical Institute in 1904, and went on to become a trailblazer for women in Dundee politics. She was a Labour Party candidate in the local election of 1924, a keen poet, and a member of the Dundee Parliament debating society.


11. The James Hutton Institute

A globally recognised research organisation whose work looks at how science can help to drive more sustainable use of land, crops and natural resources.


12. Dundee School of Art

In 1961, Dundee Technical College was renamed Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, and gradually evolved into a stand-alone organisation by 1975. It remained independent until 1994, when it became part of the University of Dundee.


13. Dundee schools

The Education (Scotland) Act in 1872 made education compulsory for children of a certain age. Dundee currently has more than 40 schools, some of which are named around the edges of this panel.

This panel was stitched by

Susan Allen

Kirstie Campbell

Cath Gardiner

Kate McCubbin

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