Jute production was a significant industry in Dundee and helped build Dundee into an industrial powerhouse. Textile production employed many thousands of people in the town and merchants travelling to India came across a different crop that was cheap but difficult to work with. The factories in Dundee made it work, and at one point every piece of jute cloth used anywhere in the world was produced in Dundee.
Jute was very strong and used to make ropes for ships. It was also used to make cloth for all sorts of things: sacks, boot linings, ship ropes, to name but a few.
One thing that made it possible for Dundee to become the capital of jute production was using steam engines to power their machines. Being built on the edge of the river - in fact the estuary - as we heard earlier, so there was access to enough water to power many steam engines at once!
If you watch a kettle boil, you’ll notice steam comes out the top when the water boils. Some kettles even whistle when the steam becomes energetic enough to push out the top. This is very similar to how a steam engine works. In a boiler, the water is heated until it turns into steam. The steam then travels up and out of a pipe which pushes a piston and makes it move.
In 1769, James Watt improved existing steam engines to make them more efficient. Dundee’s very own Verdant Works hosts an 1802 model Boulton and Watt steam engine, which you can see work below.
Have a go at making your own Hero’s Steam Engine with out worksheet!
If you’re ambitious, try building a full Watt steam engine with the directions at this web site: steamsciproj.blogspot.com