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The Nine Trades

Nine Trades

Forging alliances between Dundee’s ancient trades

The Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee was formed in the 16th century, creating an alliance among the city’s most prolific trades. There is a traditional hierarchy in place which orders the Nine Trades as follows: Bakers, Cordiners, Glovers, Tailors, Bonnetmakers, Fleshers, Hammermen, Weavers and Dyers. This panel reflects the organisation’s roots and its commitment to fundraising for worthy local causes. We also celebrate the Nine Trades’ ongoing support for the advancement of the arts, heritage, culture and science; citizenship and community development; education; religion; and health.

nine trades cartoon

1. Weavers

With origins going back to 1512, the Weaver Craft is a community organisation with more than 80 current members. Originally, the Weavers regulated the linen and jute trades in Dundee: it controlled who had the right to weave and sell cloth within the burgh, maintained quality standards, and provided apprenticeships in the textile industries. Modern community funding projects include an inter-generational project that links schools with care homes; the Weavers Prize, an annual award for textile students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD); digitising the Trades’ Lockit books; and the Dundee Tapestry.


2. Bakers

This trade was once known as ‘Baxters’ and its current Lockit Book was opened in 1554, although earlier records from 1364 also mention the purchase of bread from Dundee bakers for the Royal household. Today, the Bakers Trade continues to care for the sick and poor, and is particularly focused on training and apprenticeships.


3. Cordiners (shoemakers)

Once known in Scotland as ‘Soutars’, the shoemakers and cobblers in 17th century Dundee were busy people. As trade dwindled in the 19th century, leather belting for machinery took over but that eventually died out, too. Currently the Cordiners are involved with the Weavers in digitising the Trades’ Lockit books, in partnership with Dundee University, and their members also repair leather-bound historical books. Today’s members are committed to carrying out charity work, particularly for educational purposes.


4. Glovers (glovemakers)

A tannery for use by glovemakers (or ‘skinners’ as they were once known), to prepare the leather for their craft, was constructed beside the Wallace Burn in 1522, not far from St Roques Chapel. This trade continues its charitable work today as an ‘open’ Craft.


5. Hammermen (metal-workers)

This was an important and wealthy trade, with royal connections – a pair of pistols made in Dundee for King Louis XIII of France sold for £54,000 at an auction in 2001. At one point, this Craft encompassed Goldsmiths and Silversmiths, along with Bucklemakers, Blacksmiths, Watchmakers, Cutlers, Gunsmiths and Engineers.


6. Tailors

In the mid-1900s, Reform Street was the ‘Saville Row’ of Dundee, with more than a dozen tailors working there, and by the 1950s, there were over 40. Today, the Tailors Craft continues to support those working in the clothing industry and it funds a bursary and a textiles student prize at both Dundee & Angus College and DJCAD.


7. Dyers

The Dyers formally became part of the Nine Trades in 1693 and, historically, the Craft played an important role alongside Dundee’s textile industries. Today, the Dyers’ funding commitments include an award at DJCAD; a design competition called Creative Spaces for secondary school children; and Tayside Dynamos Powerchair Football Club, a popular disability team sport.


8. Bonnetmakers

Traditionally, Dundee bonnets (also known as ‘toories’ or ‘tammies’) were black when worn by the middle classes, or blue for the working classes; some were also made in russet. By becoming an ‘open’ Craft, the Bonnetmakers adapted to survive and members now include healthcare practitioners, solicitors, accountants and other business-owners. The Bonnetmakers was also one of the first Trades to admit women.

9. Fleshers (butchers)

Representing the butchers of Dundee, many families with long ties to the Fleshers Craft still run award-winning butchery businesses in the city. Members of the Fleshers Trade take turns to supply the meat for the Nine Trades’ annual Bridie Supper.


10. Creative arts

The Nine Trades is a committed supporter of art and culture in Dundee. Its support includes awards to students at DJCAD, and funding for creative bodies such as V&A Dundee, the Dundee Repertory Theatre, Dundee Heritage Trust, Dundee Youth Music Theatre, and many other projects in local schools and colleges.


11. The Howff & The Conveners Stone

Meetings of the Nine Trades’ Convenors Court were traditionally held every November to decide who qualified for financial support from each Trade. Originally, the Deacons, Boxmasters and Clerks of the Nine Trades met at The Convenors Stone in The Howff, an ancient graveyard.


12. Donations

Although the nine individual Trades are not charities, the board of trustees has charitable status to enable grants, donations and loans to be given to those in need. This includes pensions for those that worked in each Trade; funding for universities, schools and colleges in Dundee; and financial support for the young, vulnerable and disadvantaged.


13. Deacon Convener

Each of the Nine Trades has a Deacon, and the Deacon Convener is the presiding officer of this group and the general fund charity. A new Deacon Convener is named every two years.


14. Education support

This includes financial awards for local students in various design-led disciplines, as well as Degree Show prizes awarded to students at DJCAD and Dundee & Angus College on behalf of the Weavers, Tailors and Dyers Crafts. Other activities include funding for the Dundee University Summer School; High School of Dundee bursaries; and support in secondary and tertiary education for disadvantaged pupils.


15. Lockit Book

Each Trade has a Lockit Book which is looked after by the Clerk or Boxmaster. These books go back many hundreds of years and, inside, they contain a record of membership of each Craft and details of its accounts. Currently, the Nine Trades’ Lockit Books are undergoing a programme of digitisation and will be available online in years to come.


16. Scientific research

Examples of recent funding from the Nine Trades for scientific research includes  grants and projects in local schools and colleges, and through its commitment to digitising the Lockit Books.


17. Bridie Supper

Traditionally, after the annual business of the Convenors Court had been discussed, each November meeting would be adjourned to a local ale house for food and drink. This practice continues today and is now known as the annual Bridie Supper.

This panel was stitched by

Margaret Craig

Fiona Mackenzie

Helen Nairn

Alison Scott

Susannah Silver

Linda Spencer

Jackie Tunstall-Pedoe

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