Dundee, officially the City of Dundee, is the fourth-largest city in Scotland by population. At the 2011 census, it had a population density of 3,298 people per square kilometre, the second highest of any Scottish city. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. Under the name of Dundee City, it forms one of the 32 council areas used for local government in Scotland.
The town developed into a burgh in medieval times, and expanded rapidly in the 19th century largely due to the jute industry. This, along with its other major industries gave Dundee its epithet as city of "jute, jam and journalism". Dundee's recorded population reached a peak of 182,204 at the 1971 census, but it has since declined to 147,285 according to the 2011 Census.
Today, Dundee is promoted as 'One City, Many Discoveries' in honour of Dundee's history of scientific activities and of the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic exploration vessel, which was built in Dundee and is now berthed in the city harbour. Biomedical and technological industries have arrived since the 1980s, and the city now accounts for 10% of the United Kingdom's digital-entertainment industry. Dundee has two universities—the University of Dundee and the Abertay University. In 2014 Dundee was recognised by the United Nations as the UK's first UNESCO City of Design for its diverse contributions to fields including medical research, comics and video games.
A £1 billion master plan to regenerate and to reconnect the Waterfront to the city centre which started in 2001 is expected to be completed within a 30-year period, with the Dundee Victoria & Albert Museum opening by 2018 at a cost of £80 million.
Dundee is also known for The Dandy, The Beano, Desperate Dan, and Oor Wullie. Visitors wishing to orient themselves should consider taking a walk (or drive) up the Law, Dundee which offers a 360-degree uninterrupted view of Dundee, the Firth of Tay and the Tay Bridge, famously replacing the bridge demolished after the disaster of 1879, and the Tay Road Bridge.
The name "Dundee" is made up of two parts: the common Celtic place-name element dun, meaning fort; and a second part that may derive from a Celtic element, cognate with the Gaelic dè, meaning 'fire'.
While earlier evidence for human occupation is abundant, Dundee's success and growth as a seaport town arguably came as a result of William the Lion's charter, granting Dundee to his younger brother, David (later Earl of Huntingdon) in the late 12th century. The situation of the town and its promotion by Earl David as a trading centre led to a period of prosperity and growth. The earldom was passed down to David's descendants, amongst whom was John Balliol. The town became a Royal Burgh on John's coronation as king in 1292. The town and its castle were occupied by English forces for several years during the First War of Independence and recaptured by Robert the Bruce in early 1312. The original Burghal charters were lost during the occupation and subsequently renewed by Bruce in 1327.
The burgh suffered considerably during the conflict known as the Rough Wooing of 1543 to 1550, and was occupied by the English forces of Andrew Dudley from 1547. In 1548, unable to defend the town against an advancing Scottish force, Dudley ordered that the town be burnt to the ground. In 1645, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Dundee was again besieged, this time by the Royalist Marquess of Montrose. The town was finally destroyed by Parliamentarian forces led by George Monck in 1651. The town played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Jacobite cause when John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee raised the Stuart standard on the Dundee Law in 1689. The town was held by the Jacobites in the 1715–16 rising, and on 6 January 1716 the Jacobite claimant to the throne, James VIII and III (the Old Pretender), made a public entry into the town. Many in Scotland, including many in Dundee, regarded him as the rightful king.
The economy of mediaeval Dundee centred on the export of raw wool, with the production of finished textiles being a reaction to recession in the 15th century. Two government Acts in the mid 18th century had a profound effect on Dundee's industrial success: the textile industry was revolutionised by the introduction of large four-storey mills, stimulated in part by the 1742 Bounty Act which provided a government-funded subsidy on Osnaburg linen produced for export. Expansion of the whaling industry was triggered by the second Bounty Act, introduced in 1750 to increase Britain's maritime and naval skill base. Dundee, and Scotland more generally, saw rapid population increase at end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, with the city's population increasing from 12,400 in 1751 to 30,500 in 1821.
The phasing out of the linen export bounty between 1825 and 1832 stimulated demand for cheaper textiles, particularly for cheaper, tough fabrics. The discovery that the dry fibres of jute could be lubricated with whale oil (of which Dundee had a surfeit, following the opening of its gasworks) to allow it to be processed in mechanised mills resulted in the Dundee mills rapidly converting from linen to jute, which sold at a quarter of the price of flax. Interruption of Prussian flax imports during the Crimean War and of cotton during the American Civil War resulted in a period of inflated prosperity for Dundee and the jute industry dominated Dundee throughout the latter half of the 19th century. Unprecedented immigration, notably of Irish workers, led to accelerated urban expansion, and at the height of the industry's success, Dundee supported 62 jute mills, employing some 50,000 workers. Cox Brothers, who owned the massive Camperdown Works in Lochee, were one of the largest jute manufacturers in Europe and employed more than 5,000 workers.
The rise of the textile industries brought with it an expansion of supporting industries, notably of the whaling, maritime and shipbuilding industries, and extensive development of the waterfront area started in 1815 to cope with increased demand for port capacity. At its height, 200 ships per year were built there, including Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic research vessel, the RRS Discovery. This ship is now on display at Discovery Point in the city. A significant whaling industry was also based in Dundee, largely existing to supply the jute mills with whale oil. Whaling ceased in 1912 and shipbuilding ceased in 1981.
While the city's economy was dominated by the jute industry, it also became known for smaller industries. Most notable among these were James Keiller's and Sons, established in 1795, which pioneered commercial marmalade production, and the publishing firm DC Thomson & Co., which was founded in the city in 1905 and remains the largest employer after the health and leisure industries. Dundee was said to be built on the 'three Js': Jute, Jam and Journalism.
The town was also the location of one of the worst rail disasters in British history, the Tay Bridge disaster. The first Tay Rail Bridge was opened in 1878. It collapsed some 18 months later during a storm, as a passenger train passed over it, resulting in the loss of 75 lives. The most destructive fire in the city's history came in 1906, reportedly sending "rivers of burning whisky" through the street.
The jute industry fell into decline in the early 20th century, partly due to reduced demand for jute products and partly due to an inability to compete with the emerging industry in Calcutta. This gave rise to unemployment levels far in excess of the national average, peaking in the inter-war period, but major recovery was seen in the post-war period, thanks to the arrival first of American light engineering companies like Timex and NCR, and subsequent expansion into microelectronics.
A £1 billion master plan to regenerate Dundee Waterfront is expected to last for a 30-year period between 2001 and 2031. The aims of the project are to reconnect the city centre to the waterfront; to improve facilities for walking, cyclists and buses; to replace the existing inner ring road with a pair of east/west tree-lined boulevards; and to provide a new civic square and a regenerated railway station and arrival space at the western edge. A new Victoria and Albert museum is also being built, set for completion by 2018.