Dundee plans to renew world’s oldest jute mill

A man at work in a Dundee jute factory in 1958. Picture: TSPL
A man at work in a Dundee jute factory in 1958. Picture: TSPL
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DUNDEE city councillors are being urged to back a new draft planning brief which could pave the way for the oldest operating jute mill in the world to be given a new lease of life.

• Proposals to revitalise Dundee’s Queen Victoria Works and Regent Works area could see the world’s oldest jute mill given new lease of life

• The Queen Victoria Works, known as the High Mill, has lain derelict since 1980s

The Queen Victoria Works, built in 1828, is sited near the western boundary of the Blackness Conservation Area, and has lain derelict since it closed in the late 1980s.

Blackness is the largest inner city industrial area in Dundee and is Scotland’s oldest urban industrial area, granted special conservation area status in 1997.

Part of the Queen Victoria Works complex, which is known as the High Mill, is Category B-listed by Historic Scotland but the mill is currently on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland due to its condition.

Dundee City Council planners are recommending that councillors adopt a new draft site planning brief for the mill and the Regent Works between Brook Street and Douglas Street to enable the buildings to be redeveloped as high quality homes and offices.

Their report states: “The Queen Victoria Works was an extensive former flax mill which dated from 1828 and is situated towards the western boundary of the Blackness Conservation Area. Until its closure in the late 1980s the mill was the oldest operating jute mill in the world.

“The draft Site Planning Brief has been prepared to stimulate interest for the redevelopment of the site. It supports residential use and a mix of appropriate uses such as small scale commercial workspace. It is considered that a mix of housing and commercial workspace offers a good opportunity to capitalise on the established uses of the wider area and the careful arrangement of buildings and open spaces should buffer any perceived amenity conflicts from adjacent land uses.”

Councillor Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee said: “This is a prominent site in the Blackness Conservation Area with an industrial past stretching back almost two centuries. Although the buildings are likely to be in poor structural condition we would like to see as much of the material as possible salvaged for re-use.

“The local sandstone the mill was built from as well as the slate roof and cast iron columns could be used in a way that reflects the building’s long manufacturing history.”