Burgh History

A Brief History

Broughty Ferry is a community of some 10,000 households with a current population of over 19,000 located within the City of Dundee on the North bank of the River Tay. Guarding the mouth of the Tay estuary, the 15th century Broughty Castle overlooks the harbour. Built in 1498, the castle was restored during the 19th century and now houses a museum featuring displays on Dundee's maritime history.

At the beginning of the 19th Century, Charles Hunter had plans drawn up on a gridiron pattern to develop Broughty Ferry north and east of the small area around Gray Street populated by fisher folk. Fort Aboukir Street and St. Vincent Street were named after sea battles won during the Napoleonic Wars. Communication with Dundee was maintained by a coach service which ran from the Eagle three times a day. There was also a regular steamboat service, with special trips on a Sunday for bathers and day trippers. In 1838 the Dundee and Arbroath Railway opened encouraging those who could afford it, to leave the grime and dirt of Dundee, for the clean healthy air of 'the Ferry'. Many fine villas were erected by jute industrialists from Dundee and Broughty Ferry had more millionaires to the square mile than any town of its size in Britain. At the peak of the local fishing industry in the 1880s there were 180 boats based in Broughty Ferry.

Broughty Ferry's fame as a holiday resort spread and by the end of the Victorian period, visitors flocked to the town for their annual holiday not only from Dundee but also from the Edinburgh and Glasgow areas. In "The Brighton of the North" visitors could enjoy pleasure boats, bathing machines, brass bands played and Minstrel and Pierrot shows.

As Great War approached Broughty Ferry had emerged as what was in effect a suburb of Dundee. In the 1880s commuter trains to Dundee ran every hour. The Dundee, Broughty Ferry and District Tramways Company opened in the area from 1905 thus increasing cheap travel opportunities for the people in Dundee. On one day, 14th June 1912, some 2,200 people out of 2,674 voters travelled to work in Dundee on the train service.

In 1913 Dundee promoted the Dundee Boundaries Bill- the object being to make Broughty Ferry part of Dundee. In summary it was argued that the corporation provided water, parks, museums, baths, wash-houses, libraries, hospitals, slaughter houses, fish, and meat and fruit markets. It was argued that while the people of Broughty Ferry used them, but it was the citizens of Dundee who paid for them. Following a lengthy inquiry Broughty Ferry was incorporated within the City of Dundee.

In the past hundred years, Broughty Ferry has shared in the political, administrative, social and economic changes which have transformed Dundee as the city has moved from an industrial past to lay the foundations of a post-industrial future. However, by the mid twentieth century Broughty Ferry would still have been readily recognisable to a person who had last visited some 50 years before.

Since then Broughty Ferry has evolved rapidly to keep up with the times while retaining its own distinctive character. The centre of Broughty Ferry remains an area of mixed use and accommodates the thriving retail, commercial and service core as well as relatively high density housing of various tenures. Outwith that core are the Conservation Areas whose current distinguished character and pleasant ambience were largely settled in the nineteenth century as Broughty Ferry was transformed from a cluster of cottages at the mouth of the Tay to a prosperous suburb of the city of Dundee. To the north is the large area of private housing which was developed in the late 20th century and which, because of its popularity, has been recently considerably extended into predominantly rural surroundings. Last, but not least, there is the strip of land which stretches from the Stannergate along to the Dighty Burn with the Castle and Castle Green at its heart. This accommodates such attractions as the Royal Tay Yacht Club as well as the award winning Broughty Ferry beach and the Barnhill Rock Garden all of which maintain Broughty Ferry’s reputation as a destination for tourists and day visitors.

Drawing these strands together, Broughty Ferry has a long and interest history and can look forward with confidence to what the twenty first century may bring in way of opportunities to make the most of its past in developing its future.