Dundee: Five facts you need to know about Scotland’s cultural centre

Dundee has a strong claim to being Scotland’s cultural centre. As well as playing host to the stunning V&A design museum - which opens its doors this week - the city has long had a reputation as a home for those interested in science, technology and creativity.

But what else should you know about Scotland’s fourth largest city? And why should individuals and video games companies in particular be interested in what happens on the Tay?

Here are five facts about the city that showcases Dundee’s forward thinking creative culture.

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1) Dundee is known for jute, jam, journalism…

The growth of Dundee into a major Scottish city happened because of the emergence of three alliterative industries powered by the creativity of local individuals.

First, the city became known for the production of the long shiny vegetable fiber called jute. Often used to create twine or rope, so much of it was being produced that the city was briefly nicknamed “jutepolis” until the trade shifted to India from the late 1800s.

Next, Dundee developed a reputation as a creator of fruit jams. Specifically, Dundee woman Janet Keillor inadvertently played her role in the creation of beloved children’s character Paddington bear by inventing marmalade in the city in the 1700s.

Finally, Dundee has a strong tradition of journalism that lives up to the present day. As well as being home to the creators of the Beano and the Dandy – DC Thomson – Dundee is also currently home to broadcasters like the BBC and STV too. This is a good example of how Dundee continues to attract some of the brightest communicators and thinkers around.

2) …and “joysticks” too

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Although some of the historic “js” no longer contribute to Dundee’s success, a new j – joysticks – is playing its part in supporting the city.

As a result of the decision to create a computer games development course in the local Dundee Institute of Technology – now the University of Abertay – Dundee became a hot bed for video game innovation, with Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings emerging from the city in the 1990s.

The result has been the emergence of a healthy local video games industry. There are 32 games companies listed on Ukie’s games map, putting the city in the top 20 biggest clusters in the country. And with the announcement of a new £9m initiative in the City dedicated to furthering video game research, that number is only likely to grow in the coming years.

3) Dundee is steeped in history

One of the things that’s surprising about Dundee is quite how much history is crammed into one place.

For starters, Dundee – interestingly – is located on a long extinct volcano that (presumably) would once have been quite hard to build a town on. But beyond the geological past, Dundee has many historical claims to fame.

For example, the city has a couple of memorable historical “firsts”. Dundee was where Mary Godwin (nee Mary Shelley) started forming the ideas that would go into her genre defining novel Frankenstein. The first radio message in the world was also sent in Dundee in 1832 by inventor Lindsay Bowman.

Dundee is also now home to plenty of history too. As well as its many museums, it is also home to two historical ships: the Frigate Unicorn, the 6th oldest ship in the world, and the Discovery, the ship that took Scott too (but not back) from the Antarctic.

4) Dundee is, like, totally cool man

Sure Dundee might have history, but it’s also pretty darn cool too. GQ magazine named it one of the coolest cities in the country in 2015, while UNESCO named it the UK’s first city of the design – making it cooler than a polar bear wearing sunglasses.

Both Dundee’s tech and creative industries are playing a big role in renewing the city.  Whether it’s the aforementioned V&A opening its doors, the emergence of excellent eateries like Mozza or places like the Verdant Works celebrating its industrial past in a fresh way, the city certainly feels like its on its way up.

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5) You need to know Dundonian slang, you belter
Finally, it should come as no surprise that a city as creative as Dundee has evolved its own distinctive slang. And although there are plenty of terms to choose from, the team at Tag is particularly fond of the following slang.

We think that calling a roundabout a “circle” is a much more practical way to describe traffic measures. We also reckon that a “cundie” is a much better term for a drain. And finally, it’s clear to us at least that ordering a “peh” is much more fun than asking for a plain old pie.