Dundee’s industries

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  • Dundee Science Centre in autumn, west of the city centre
    Dundee Science Centre, west of the city centre
  • The exterior of The McManus, Dundee city centre
    The McManus, Dundee city centre
  • The RRS Discovery, Discovery Point
    The RRS Discovery, Discovery Point
  • The exterior of Verdant Works, Dundee
    Verdant Works, Dundee

Find out about the industries of Dundee and discover why this charming city is known for its three Js - jute, jam and journalism.

Dundee is a vibrant cosmopolitan hub with a diverse economy. Key sectors include engineering, tourism and the growing industries of biotechnology, digital media and customer services.

However, Dundee hasn’t lost sight of its rich industrial heritage, such as jute, jam and journalism. These are the industries which helped build the city’s prosperity towards the end of the Victorian era, which you can learn more about in historic attractions such as the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, traditional industries such as whaling and shipbuilding played an important role in Dundee’s economy. The city was also famed for its textile industry, in particular the production of the versatile, natural fibred jute which led to the city becoming known as the ‘jute capital of the world’.

By the turn of the 20th century, Dundee’s jute industry employed more than 50,000 people in over one hundred mills. Step back in time at Scotland's Jute Museum at Verdant Works, a restored 19th century jute mill and museum where you can learn about the city’s once flourishing jute trade.

Jam also played a remarkable part of Dundee’s heritage, with local man James Keiller introducing marmalade to the commercial market at the beginning of the 19th century. By the end of the 1860s, James Keiller & Sons was the largest confectionary business in the UK, employing around 300 people. 

The third of the city’s famous Js - journalism, continues to thrive today. Established in 1905, local firm DC Thomson is now one of the city’s largest employers and is best known for children’s comics such as The Beano and The Dandy. Admire the towering 8 ft statue of Desperate Dan, found in the city centre’s High Street near the Overgate Shopping Centre.

Jute, jam and journalism form just part of Dundee’s fascinating industrial history. The city also boasts a proud scientific heritage which you can learn about at the RRS Discovery, the legendary exploration vessel that Captain Robert Falcon Scott chartered on his seminal expedition to Antarctica. You can also embrace Dundee’s spirit of innovation at Dundee Science Centre, where you can experience over 60 hands-on exhibits that enable visitors of all ages to explore the fascinating world of science.

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