Made in Dundee

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    29 Nov 2018
    Clock 70min      Length2mi
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    18th Century House

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    You should see to your right a 18th century house. Make your way over to it.

    It is probable this used to be a merchant's house. There is said to be a channel for a boat to dock next to this house. For me, this really underlines how close the docks used to be to the centre of Dundee.

    And they were very much part of Dundee life. For example the whaling ships would leave Dundee for the Arctic in April. This very often coincided with a local holiday. People would go down to the docks to wave the ships off. The crews were often so drunk that they had to anchor in the river until they were sober enough to put out to sea.

    Whale products were very versatile. Whalebone was used for carriage springs, walking canes, whips, brushes, brooms, umbrella ribs, fishing rods, hooped skirts and corsets. Whale oil was used for lighting, lubrication, soap and to soften the raw jute.

    Every year around 12 ships left Dundee for the whaling. Almost every year a ship would not return; 40 out of a hundred Dundee ships were crushed in the ice. There was the risk of death by frostbite, scurvy, being stuck in the ice or having one's boat capsized by a harpooned whale. Dundonian James McIntosh was in an open boat with four companions in the Greenland Sea when the mist came down. It separated them from their ship, the Chieftain. The others drank seawater and went mad, died of hunger and exposure. McIntosh ate his hat and survived. After 17 days he was eventually picked up by another ship. He had to be cut out of the boat and have both legs amputated below the knee.

    He returned to live in Broughty Ferry and fathered 7 more children.