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The Legacy of Linen and Jute

by Jack Searle

From 1800 to around 1950 the economic and social life of Dundee was dominated by the textile industry. For the city this had many results. Alongside the emergence of a small number of extremely rich individuals who owned and operated the works and mills, a very large number of workers, generally poorly paid, were attracted to swell Dundee's population. Indeed it can be said that one of the on-going legacies of this 150 year dominance of textile manufacture in the city is the social aftershock of that experience.

But, quite apart from its social effects upon the population, the production of textiles in Dundee left its mark upon the physical appearance of the city - the most obvious being the large number of buildings associated with this trade. But that was not the end of the matter. An article* in the October 2014 edition of City Scene, the Journal of the Dundee Civic Trust, attempts to cover one particular part of the textile legacy, namely those buildings gifted to the city by the textile barons of Dundee.

The making of gifts to the city was not a common predilection of the owners of textile businesses, but a small number of them did. Through their gifts they left their mark upon our environment. The most significant of these benefactors were the Baxter, Caird, and Cox families.

* The whole article, "The Legacy of Linen and Jute", is available as a pdf - The Legacy of Linen and Jute [PDF-841Kb]