Dundee Verdant Works gets £1.48m restoration grant

A woman working at a circular loom in a Dundee jute mill in 1957. Picture: Complimentary
A woman working at a circular loom in a Dundee jute mill in 1957. Picture: Complimentary
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DUNDEE Heritage Trust is in line for a £1.48 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to complete the restoration of the Verdant Works, the museum which celebrates the city’s famous jute industry heritage.

• Half of the site has already been transformed into Scotland’s Jute Museum

• The project aims to “improve public access to the city’s rich textile heritage”.

The trust has been awarded a first-round pass for the project and development funding of £114,000 has also been awarded to help the trust to progress their plans to apply for a full grant for the vital restoration scheme at the former jute factory.

The Verdant Works “High Mill Open Gallery Project” is aimed at securing a sustainable future for the A-listed complex by preserving the work’s High Mill and adjoining Glazed Alley which are currently derelict and on the Buildings at Risk Register.

Built in 1833, the High Mill is the oldest and most imposing part of the significant industrial complex. Half the site has already been transformed into the award-winning Scotland’s Jute Museum in the Blackness area of the city.

A trust spokeswoman explained: “The project will open up and improve public access to the city’s rich textile heritage by creating 971 square metres of new exhibition space, allowing for further interpretation and enabling some of the large industrial objects in the trust’s reserve collections to be displayed for the first time. Graphic and audio visual interpretation will allow for more stories and themes to be explored and will use evocative images from the trust’s important archive and photographic collections.

“The project will also create a new community resource where a wide variety of groups can meet to take part in heritage-based activities.”

The £2.2 million restoration scheme has already been allocated £500,000 in funding from Historic Scotland and the Dundee Heritage Trust is now launching a major fundraising effort to raise the remaining £175,000 needed to ensure the project goes ahead.

Gill Poulter, Heritage Director for Dundee Heritage Trust, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this significant level of support which is fantastic news for the trust and the city. The project gives us the opportunity to create something new and different that will have a dynamic future of its own but which is complementary to the existing jute museum, helping to protect and enhance it.”

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to give our initial support to a project which will complete the transformation of the Verdant Works site.

Incorporating these last two buildings into the existing five star visitor attraction will mean that significant pieces of machinery can be brought out of storage and displayed for the very first time.

“This is an exciting time for Dundee as it develops as a cultural visitor destination. It is only right that the heritage of the industry on which the town once thrived, plays a key role in that vision. We are excited to see how plans develop for the next stage of our funding process.”

Martin Fairley, head of investment at Historic Scotland said: “The A-listed Verdant Works High Mill is an important historic building with a fascinating history. We are pleased that it will be restored and give people the opportunity to learn about Scotland’s textile heritage.”

Having been awarded a first-round pass, the trust now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.