Bangladesh, Bengal, British Industry, Dundee, India, Industrial Heritage, Industrial Revolution, jute, leaflet, Museums, Scotland's Jute Museum, Social history, Souvenirs, sticker, Ted, textiles, Verdant Works, Victorian., Victoriana
Have you ever thought about jute? I had only considered the properties of jute once before my visit to Dundee. I was in Cambridge, walking around the open air market behind Great St. Mary’s Church and a short walk from King’s College Chapel, when my attention was caught by a stall on which everything was made of jute, which was haled as a renewable wonder material! Anyway – I didn’t think about jute again until I arrived in Dundee and asked a very helpful lady at Discovery Point, “Do you recommend any other visitor attraction in Dundee?” [or words to that effect]. She gave me a map and pointed me in the direction of the Verdant Works. To quote from the leaflet I still have, “Scotland’s Jute Museum @ Verdant Works is just one of the many mills that flourished when the jute industry was at its height. Verdant Works takes you on a tour of the trade, from its beginnings in the Indian subcontinent to the end product in all its myriad forms“.
In brief: The story of jute starts on the Indian Subcontinent, Bangladesh to be exact; formally Bengal. A number of enterprising, Victorian, individuals, had the bright idea of using their assets in the ship building, whaling, textile industries to bring the jute over to Dundee, soften it using whale oil and then turn it into sailcloth, sacking, ropes, tarpaulins and countless other things you would find in your very own home.
The Verdant Works is a very interesting place to visit. The museum covers all aspects of the subject, from the jutes cultivation to the finished product. Parts of the Works don’t look as if they’ve changed much [or have been restored] since 1900, so you get that feeling of walking back in time. The “From Fibre to Fabric” section has an extensive collection of working textile industry related machinery [it was all a bit over my head, but if you’re of a mechanic inclination I am sure you’ll love it]. The museum also covers the effect of the jute industry on the social history of Dundee, which is a very interesting topic; with special reference to the unique role of women in Dundee.