Verdant Works – A Fascinating Museum
Once upon a time, the city of Dundee, in Scotland, was known as one of the largest manufacturers of jute. Bustling with approximately seventy jute factories, the jute industry created thousands of much needed jobs and provided the public with a material that was considered to be vital. Its many uses made jute a popular product, but one by one the factories closed and the buildings become home to new business. Fortunately, one factory survived the closures, and became a museum to the jute industry. Just outside the centre of Dundee is the Verdant Works, where a modern public can explore the once thriving jute industry.
The plant fibers for making jute was brought into Scotland from Bangladesh, then known as Bengal, and these raw jute fibers were taken from the Corchorus Olitorius and Corchorus Capsularis plants. After being reworked by the factory, jute could be used in the manufacturing of sand bags, tents, cattle bedding, rope, sailcloth, parachutes, carpets, horse covers, satchels and tarpaulins, to name a few. The obvious question does pop up. If jute was so versatile and popular, why did the factories close? Money is the simple answer. From about 1914, it was realized that importing the already processed jute directly from India was cheaper, and the factories became redundant.
The Verdant Works building was constructed in 1833 and by the time Scotland reached its production peak, the Verdant Works factory in Dundee, employed five hundred people who powered the steam engines and manned the more than two thousand spindles and seventy power looms. The Dundee Heritage Trust bought the abandoned Verdant Works building in 1991, with restoration work getting underway in 1992. They opened the twenty five thousand square foot Verdant Works Museum to the public in 1996, and has remained amongst the most popular attractions in Dundee since its opening.
Visitors to the Verdant Works museum will gain insight into the daily lives of the factory workers and what the factory would have looked like in its heyday. Many of the original furniture and office equipment, such as the typewriter, can still be seen and the interactive tour of the museum takes visitors past fascinating exhibitions, machinery and displays. At most of the displays visitors are encouraged to touch the items and even get a chance to try their hand at rope making. The Verdant Works museum has ample parking available and is a museum that the entire family can enjoy.