Verdant Works Dundee: The history of the jute industry

The Verdant Works in Dundee, Scotland illustrates the history of the Dundee jute industry. This museum is my tip for visitors to Dundee interested in Scottish industrial heritage.  This Dundee attraction opened in the early 1990s when the Dundee Heritage Trust purchased the then derelict Verdant Mill.

Dundee and the World jute map, Verdant Works

Dundee’s global jute connections

Jute became a big industry in Dundee for three reasons: the existing weaving skills of workers, the local shipbuilding industry that built the large vessels to carry the raw material from India and the availability of whale oil (used to soften the jute) from the Dundee based whaling fleet.

Hand loom at Verdant Works Dundee

Hand operated jute weaving loom

The Verdant Works does truly bring history to life.  On the factory floor there are working smaller machines built in the first half of the 20th century for training local workers.

Can you imagine working for 9 hours a day in all this noise?

Factory floor at Verdant Works Dundee

I was fortunate that volunteer Lily Thomson, a former jute weaver, was at the Verdant Works on the day I visited, so I could see (and hear) the machines in action.  There are screens behind each of the pieces of machinery showing old films of scenes from the jute production line.

I enjoyed my visit to the Verdant Works, it certainly gave me an insight into the lives of the Dundee jute workers and the amazing number of products manufactured from jute including tents and carpet backing.  The Verdant Works offers a great day out for all the family as there are plenty of interactive displays for kids. There’s free parking for visitors at the rear of the building and an on-site cafe.

You can see all my Verdant Works photos and videos on Flickr.

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