The Verdant Story
The Verdant Story
Verdant Works is at the heart of one of the earliest urban industrial areas in Scotland. Mills grew up here from the 1790s because of the availability of a water supply- the Scouring burn- to run the steam engines that powered the machinery.
The seemingly incongruous ‘green’ name of ‘Verdant’ for a textile works in an industrial area dates back to when Verdant was built. At that time most of the surrounding area was still green fields and nursery grounds.
The High Mill of Verdant Works was built in 1833 for David Lindsay, merchant and flaxspinner. Over the following thirty years further buildings such as warehouses, batching areas and offices were added until the site looked as it does today. Like many Dundee flax mills in the 1840s and 1850s Verdant Works witched to processing jute. By 1864 Verdant is recorded as possessing three steam engines driving 70 power looms and 2,800 spindles. A workforce of 500 was employed to prepare and spin jute in the mill and to weave in a separate factory across the road in Milne Street.
By 1889 Verdant’s time as a true textile works is over and the name disappears from the lists of mills and factories in the Dundee Directory. During the 1900s, under the ownership of Alexander Thomson & Sons, Verdant was used to re-cycle large amounts of jute waste produced as a by-product of the industry, to cure rabbit skins and to deal in scrap metal.
Dundee Heritage Trust bought the site in 1991 and the majority of the site opened as a museum in 1996. The High Mill was stunningly restored and opened to the public in 2015.
The textile collections at Verdant Works give an insight into the history of Dundee’s textile industries from the dominance of the jute industry to the later manufacture of man-made fibres in the city. As well as the large working machinery that illustrates the processing of jute; smaller objects and archives reveal topics such as the industry’s Indian connections, research and development, textile products, textile engineering and the lives of the workers. Click here to find out more.
When Dundee Heritage Trust purchased Verdant Works in 1991 the site was in a derelict condition. Verdant Works is a rare surviving example of a courtyard type mill, meriting its category ‘A’ listing as a building of national architectural importance. Verdant Works was relatively un-modernised when Dundee Heritage Trust bought it and a host of original features remain.
Wherever possible, appropriate historic materials and methods were used and a programme of sympathetic restoration undertaken.