Scotlands History

Dundee jute mills

Dundee was once famous for ‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’. At its height, in the late 19th century, Dundee boasted around 60 jute mills and more than 50,000 workers were employed by Dundee’s jute industry.

The textile industry was one of Dundee’s main employers and Dundee was also a whaling port with a ready supply of whale oil that was used to process the raw jute. The mechanical process to spin raw jute fibre was first developed in Dundee.

Raw jute was imported from India by the British East India Company. Dundee Jute Barons grew rich processing jute and selling manufactured products made from jute. Many of Dundee’s jute workers were Irish women immigrants who had come to live in Scotland.

Dundee Jute Barons and the British East India Company began to set up jute mills in India and by 1900 the Calcutta jute industry overtook the Scottish jute trade. Many Scots emigrated to India to set up the Calcutta jute factories. More than a billion jute sandbags were exported from India to the trenches during World War I.

The Verdant Works museum in celebrates the history of Dundee's jute industry.

  • Photo of women in a factory, surrounded by huge weaving machines

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