The Industrial Revolution
By the time the High Mill of Verdant Works was built in 1833 Britainís Industrial Revolution was reaching its climax. Englandís Ďdark satanic millsí were in full production, and in Scotland fortunes were being made and then multiplied a hundred fold. Towards the end of the Victorian era Scotland was producing a third of Britainís railway engines, a third of its steel, a third of Britainís ships and half of its engines. It is against this historical backdrop that the incredible story of jute in Dundee was played out.
Dundee and India, connected by a single fibre
In 1820 the first twenty bales of jute were unloaded at Dundee docks. It was to change the cityís destiny forever. So how did the fortunes of a Scottish city and a faraway region of the Indian sub-continent become
so intertwined? The answer, in part, lies in Dundeeís industrial traditions.
Weaving, whaling and shipbuilding were the three vital ingredients that made Dundee the jute capital of the then modern world. Weaving was an important occupation in Dundee as far back as the 16th century so the skills were already in place to adapt to jute processing. The local whaling fleet provided the whale oil needed to soften the jute and make it workable. And Dundeeís ship building industry (another offshoot of the whaling heritage) was put to work to construct the big, fast ships that brought the jute from India. On top of which new, worldwide markets were opening up for jute products, a fact the enterprising merchant community was quick to recognise.