Dundee Heritage Trust and its operating company Dundee Industrial Heritage Limited are both registered charities formed in 1985 to preserve and interpret Dundee’s industrial past. The Trust sprang from a small dedicated band of local people concerned that unless action was taken important aspects of the city’s history would be lost forever. Trustees are drawn from a diverse range of community and business interests in Dundee and Tayside.
As well as the Royal Research Ship Discovery, Dundee Heritage Trust has responsibility for Discovery Point Antarctic Museum and Conference Centre plus Verdant Works, one of the nation’s most important textile museums. Both sites are registered museums,5 star accredited with VisitScotland and have won numerous awards.
Through its trading activities Dundee Industrial Heritage Limited is able to generate the majority of its operating revenue. This income is mainly raised from visitor income plus some corporate and charitable trust support with additional support from local government grants.
The Royal Research Ship Discovery returned to her home port of Dundee in 1986 where she was greeted by thousands lining the shores of the River Tay. Since then Discovery Point opened as a purpose built museum, visitor centre and conference venue playing host to over 90,000 visitors per year from both the public and business communities.
Discovery Point interprets the history of Discovery with displays focusing primarily on the British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904 led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The quality of the facilities and exhibits housed at Discovery Point are regularly recognized through different award bodies.
Since her return to the city of her birth Discovery has acted as an icon for the regeneration of Dundee with the city even branding itself Dundee, City of Discovery. The highly successful campaign has seen the image of Dundee lifted and a new pride returning to the city. Discovery is home and the people of Dundee can be very proud of the ship that was launched in their city at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Built in 1833, Verdant Works is the last working jute mill in Scotland. Dundee Heritage Trust's collection of historic jute processing machinery, much of it over 100 years old, has been restored to working condition to give visitors a vivid appreciation of life in the mills and factories.
It is the only venue in Britain where people can see the processing of jute from the raw fibre through to the finished woven cloth. Verdant Works is keeping alive the traditional skills of jute spinning and weaving which might otherwise die out. As a museum, Verdant Works tells the story of Dundee's textile industries, from the early days of 18th century flax weaving, through the introduction and rise of jute production to the present day and the manufacture of man-made fibres.
At its peak in 1900, the jute industry in Dundee employed 50,000 people (half the working population) and supplied much of the world's demand for jute goods. The majority of workers were women and children. This obviously had a dramatic effect on the city and its people and this wider social impact is assessed in the social history galleries.