From Jute to Journalism – How Dundee Became a Cultural Hub

Dundee, the fourth largest city in Scotland, was once known as the “jute capital of the world”. The city’s economy was built on the jute industry during the 19th century, which brought prosperity and employment to Dundee. However, with the decline of the industry in the 20th century, the city had to reinvent itself to stay relevant. 

In recent years, Dundee has transformed into a cultural hub, with a thriving creative industry and a reputation for innovation along with so many things to do in Dundee. Today, the city is home to many world-class museums, galleries, and cultural institutions, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

1. The rich history of jute production in Dundee

Dundee, a city located on the east coast of Scotland, has a rich history of jute production, which played a pivotal role in the city’s growth and transformation into a bustling hub of industry and culture. For over a century, jute production dominated Dundee’s economy, with the city becoming known as the “jute capital of the world.” The industry provided employment opportunities for thousands of people, and the skills and expertise developed in jute production contributed to the growth of other industries in Dundee, such as textiles and printing. 

Many of the city’s iconic buildings, such as the Old Steeple and the Verdant Works, were originally built to serve the jute industry, and they remain important landmarks to this day. The significance of jute production in Dundee’s history cannot be overstated, and its influence can be seen in many aspects of the city’s cultural heritage.

2. The emergence of Dundee’s publishing industry

Dundee has a rich literary history, with the city’s publishing industry playing a significant role in the development of Scottish literature. The emergence of printing presses in the 19th century allowed for mass production of books and magazines, leading to a boom in the publishing industry. Dundee’s publishers were instrumental in enabling writers to disseminate their work to a wider audience, with many significant Scottish authors publishing their works through local presses. 

The city’s most notable publisher, DC Thomson, was responsible for producing popular comics such as The Beano and The Dandy, as well as newspapers and magazines that remain well-known throughout the UK. The rise of Dundee’s publishing industry was a key factor in the city’s transformation into a cultural hub and contributed significantly to the growth of Scottish literature.

3. The city’s thriving creative and cultural scene

Dundee, once known for its jute industry, has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. One of the city’s most notable achievements has been its thriving creative and cultural scene, which includes the world-renowned Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. Students from all over the world come to study at this prestigious institution, contributing to the city’s diverse culture. 

In addition to the art school, Dundee is home to award-winning museums such as the V&A Dundee, and the McManus Art Gallery and Museum. These institutions showcase the rich history and artistic excellence of the city, drawing visitors from all over the world. The thriving arts and culture scene in Dundee has become a significant source of pride for the city, and it promises to continue on this trajectory into the future.

4. Dundee’s role as a center for innovation and technology

Dundee has emerged as a hub of innovation and technology, making notable achievements in the fields of video games and biomedical research. In recent years, the city has played a pivotal role in the expansion of the video game industry in Scotland, with the founding of notable game development studios such as Rockstar North and 4J Studios. These companies have produced globally successful titles such as Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft. 

Dundee has also made impressive strides in the field of biomedical research, with the establishment of the Dundee Biomedical Research Centre (DBRC) in 2014. The DBRC conducts groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These notable achievements have contributed to Dundee’s growing reputation as a center for innovation and technology.

5. The future of Dundee as a cultural hub

Dundee is undergoing a transformation, with the city positioning itself as a hub for the arts and creative industries. There are plans for new developments and continued investment in the cultural sector, solidifying Dundee’s position as a center for creativity in Scotland. With the opening of the V&A Museum of Design in 2018 and the upcoming Waterfront Development project. 

Dundee is poised to attract an increasing number of tourists to the city to experience its cultural offerings. As a result, the city is set to enjoy a boost to its economy through increased investment and job creation in the creative industries. With this continued emphasis on the arts and creative sectors, Dundee’s cultural heritage is set to go from strength to strength, cementing its position as a vital cultural hub in Scotland and beyond.


Q. What is the McManus Art Gallery and Museum?

A. The McManus Art Gallery and Museum is a museum in Dundee, Scotland that showcases the rich history and artistic excellence of the city. It draws visitors from all over the world and has become a significant source of pride for Dundee.

Q. What is the Dundee Biomedical Research Centre?

A. The Dundee Biomedical Research Centre (DBRC) is a research centre located in Dundee, Scotland that conducts groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It has made impressive strides in the field of biomedical research and contributed to Dundee’s growing reputation as a center for innovation and technology.


Dundee’s journey from a jute manufacturing city to a prominent cultural hub is a remarkable example of a city’s transformation. The city has preserved its industrial heritage while embracing its creative potential, and the results are evident. Dundee is now home to numerous cultural institutions that attract visitors from all over the world, including the V&A Dundee, Dundee Contemporary Arts, and the Dundee Rep Theatre. The future looks bright for this city on the rise, and it will be exciting to see where Dundee’s creative spirit leads it next.


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