Jute, Jam and Journalism

Shipbuilding

Part of Jute, Jam, Journalism and Beyond

Until about 40 years ago, shipbuilding was a major industry in Dundee. Particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, some of the best ships in the world were built in Dundee due to its access to the North Sea and its sheltered docks on the River Tay.

In 1824, the HMS Unicorn was launched. To this date, it is the oldest most original ship still in existence! She (ships are referred to as ‘she’) was built just after the Napoleonic Wars, and so she sat safely for many years, used as a training ship for Naval Reserves in Dundee from 1873 until 1968. Now, she is protected by the Unicorn Preservation Society and has a place in her home in Dundee for the foreseeable future.

In 1901, the RRS Discovery was launched as a scientific research vessel. Dundee was chosen to build the Discovery because the shipbuilders here had a reputation for building ships that could handle Arctic and Antarctic voyages. The Discovery made many scientific voyages in its 30 years as a research vessel, going to the Antarctic twice in its lifespan.

Interestingly, the Discovery was quite a slow, heavy ship, and the captain had his doubts about it. But it turns out, it was perfectly equipped to deal with the South Sea as it was heavy and had smaller sails, so it dealt with high winds well.

Today, the City Quay and The Port areas have been converted into housing and commercial (shops and restaurants) areas, but The Port still provides a place for ships and boats to dock. Currently, there are plans to build a full marina to allow even more boats to dock in a protected harbour.

Dundee Maritime Trail – Read more about shipbuilding in Dundee and complete a scavenger hunt around the city to learn about ships’ flags!
HMS Unicorn
Read more about the HMS Unicorn’s History
RRS Discovery
Read More About the RRS Discovery’s History

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