For Jim Lester, this was one journey he just had to make.
The 64-year-old left his home in Merseyside on Friday and took the train to Dundee – the city of his birth and a good part of his life – to be at the opening of the V&A.
He said: “I am so excited about the city and what is happening here. I wanted to be part of the opening. It means something to me. I want Dundee to succeed.”
Lester, a retired landscape architect, said: “It has been such a brave thing to do, the whole concept.
“Today I am proud to be from Dundee. I just really wanted to witness the occasion.”
Dundee was yesterday brimming with people’s stories of hope, of aspiration and of pride that this was their city. A city that felt changed, a city that felt good to live in and a city they didn’t really want to leave any more.
Chris Wesley, 20, from Dunblane, chose to move to Dundee two years ago as the hype around Kengo Kuma’s £80 million creation started to intensify.
The museum, he said, had influenced his life.
“I study design, so the V&A was the reason I decided to come here,” he said. “The museum is amazing. It feels like everything is happening here. It makes me want to stay here, to get a job here. It feels like it is on a trajectory.”
The museum has been long in the making. Roads have been closed for ten years as vast parts of the old 1960s concrete city were torn down and land re-modelled.
Dawn and Tony Toshney watched the museum being built piece-by-piece from their living room window in Wormit, which sits across the River Tay. Yesterday they drove across the bridge to get inside for the first time.
Dawn, 47, a charity worker, said: “I was sceptical at first. I thought it was going to be a big waste of money, but I have changed my mind over time. Every time we came over the bridge we could see another bit being added. Now I think it looks great and it is changing the city.”
Their visit yesterday was “inspiring”, with a high point being their sons – one of whom wants to be an architect – meeting Kuma at a craft session.
Wendy Bullard, 52, and Dave Shepherd, 53, cycled over the Tay Bridge from their home at Newport for the opening. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh interior of the Ingram Street Tearoom was a particular highlight for Wendy, a clinical psychologist, as is the overall “sense of hope” being generated by the museum.
That hope is also felt by Samantha Paton, 29, a fashion designer, who visited with her son River, one, and husband Richard, an electrician.
She said: “People are proud to say that they are from here now. We have friends all over the world and they are all speaking about Dundee.
“For my son, it is just going to be such a great place for him to experience and to learn in.”
Louisa Gherxi, 81, has spent all of her life in Dundee and seen the city change beyond recognition. The V&A is like nothing she has ever seen before.
“It didn’t even look like a building that you could build, but it is growing on me,” she said.
Friends Beth Pollard and Pat Swan spent two hours wandering around the building and were in no rush to go into the galleries yesterday.
Beth, a statistician from Dundee, said: “We haven’t got very far as we have just been coming to little standstills all over the building. We haven’t even made it into the galleries yet. It has exceeded everything I thought it could be. I can’t get my head round the fact that this is close to my house and I could drop in on the way to get my shopping.”
The friends spent a lot of time outside on the terrace overlooking the water.
“We just sat there for ages watching people opening the door on to the terrace and seeing the wonder on their faces,” Beth said.
Kuma has spoken of the museum being the living room for the city. Yesterday, it felt like the city had moved in.