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Dundee Street Names Article - PART 2

by Denis M Naulty MA (St A), FSA Scot.:

CASTLE STREET....

Early Dundee had several hills in its central area, including Corbie Hill and Castle Hill. There is reference to a Castle on the Hill from the late 13th century. It was occupied at different times by English invaders and by the Scottish governors of Dundee. From the time of Bannockburn (1314) recorded evidence of the Castle disappeared. Over the years, the lane from the base of the Castle rock to the harbour was variously named Castle Wynd, Skirling's Wynd (Bailie Alexander Skirling), Tindal's Wynd (David Tindal, baker and Town Councillor). In the 17th century, a colossal statue of Apollo was built on the top of the Hill as a landmark for shipping. The present Street was cut through Castle Hill in 1795 to improve access to the harbour. St Paul's Cathedral stands on what is left of the Castle rock.

CRICHTON STREET....

was opened in 1783 as the first non-medieval route from the High Street to the river. Near the bottom end of the street was the house that became the birthplace of John Crichton, surgeon (1772 - 1860), who spent his long professional carer in the service of Dundonians. Crichton's family held out for higher compensation for the loss of their home, and when they eventually agreed in 1779 to the new street being built, they insisted that it should be named after them. There is a portrait of Surgeon Crichton by the Dundee artist John Zephaniah Bell in the McManus Galleries.

COUTTIE'S WYND....

is the narrow lane that stretches from Nethergate to Whitehall Crescent, parallel to Union Street. It is one of our few remaining links with medieval Dundee and was a passage from the shore to the burgh before 1200. David Spalding stayed in the vennel in the mid 15th century and was prominent in local affairs. He represented Dundee in the Scottish Parliament of 1456 - 58 and hence the lane was known for some time as `Spaldings Wynd'. This name continued until 1521 when William Couttie, butcher, obtained property here and the vennel was named after him. His last descendants died in 1604 but the name survives. The Wynd was widened by ten feet in 1769.

WHITEHALL STREET....

was built under the 1858 improvement plan and opened in 1883. In order to build the street, two very old closes and many old buildings were demolished. One of these was a well established mansion, occupied in the 17th century by Sir Patrick Lyon, who was related to the first Earl of Strathmore, a professor at St Andrews University and a judge. He was also a keen Royalist and at the restoration of Charles 11 in 1660, he changed the name of his house to `Whitehall'. He also placed the sculptured arms of Charles II above his doorway.

UNION STREET....

was built in 1828 and named after the Union Hall (1783, originally the English Chapel – see above) that stood at its head at the west end of the High Street. (Another suggestion for its name is that it united the Nethergate with Craig Pier, the shore and later the West and Taybridge Stations). The Hall was removed in 1876 to widen Nethergate. Union Street, along with Crichton Street and Castle Street, was developed under the 1825 Improvement Act.

WEST PORT....

was the gateway at the western end of the Overgait. It was sited roughly where the West Port roundabout on West Marketgait lies today. When Mary, Queen of Scots, visited Dundee in 1561, the Provost and Bailies of the city presented her with the keys to the City at the West Port. The Ordnance Survey indicates that demolition of the West Port took place in 1757.

HAWKHILL (NOW OLD HAWKHILL)....

The name can be traced back to the late 15th century. It was the main highway from Dundee towards Perth for a very long time. Its designation suggests that in early days this quarter may have been devoted to the sport of hawking, as the Meadows were set apart for archery and long retained the name of `the Butts'.

PERTH ROAD....

which diverted the westward traffic, was the subject of one of the plans of George Dempster of Dunnichen towards the end of the 18th century. Dempster was then head of the Dundee Bank and he ageed to make advances of money to build the Perth Road. One of the builders who took advantage of this offer was James Miln. Amongst the first houses in this part of the Nethergate was the terrace built by Miln in 1788 as town residences for the country gentry. These are known to this day as `Miln's buildings' and lie on the south side of the thoroughfare. At a later date, the Perth Road was extended westward until it was joined to the Hawkhill at the junction known locally as the Sinderins - from the early Scots sundering or separation of the roads.

BARRACK STREET....

was originally known as Friars Vennel or Wynd because it led from the Friary of the Grey Friars down to the Kirk of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now St Mary's Parish Church. The Friar Wynd Port was one of the seven Ports or Gateways in the Town wall. It was sited across the Wynd in line with the southern end of the Friary burial ground. This port was unique in that it had a lodge or house incorporated in it over the arch, similar to some of the Ports or Bars in York. This lodge was the home of the town hangman and so became known as `Hangman's Port'. Mary, Queen of Scots had donated the orchard of the Grey Friars to the town in 1564 as a healthier place for public burial and situated outside the City walls to replace the churchyard of St Clement's in the crowded city centre. This burial ground became the meeting place of the medieval Trade Guilds and to be known as `The Howff (Scots for both burial ground and meeting place). When the vennel became Burial Wynd, the dwellers in the houses there objected. In 1807, they petitioned the Town Council to have the name changed. The old castle of Dudhope became a military depot in the 1830s and soldiers often marched through the street in question on their way to and from their barracks. The Council thus renamed it Barrack Street.

LINDSAY STREET....

was a narrow thoroughfare, known in the 17th century as School Wynd after the Grammar School had been moved there from the Vault area at the rear of St Clement's churchyard ( the site now occupied by the City Square). Its name derived from William Lindsay, Provost (1831 - 33) and corn merchant. The ancient Corbie Hill outcrop stood in this area which along with the Castle Hill served as fortified strongholds for the medieval town. Provost Lindsay pressed for transforming the Wynd into a wide street. In 1831 Corbie Hill was quarried and levelled to form Lindsay Street. A quarry still existed during the time spent in Dundee by the unhappy MacGonagall since he is reported to have given performances there.

SOURCES....