Whilst visiting Dundee we visited Verdant Works, a restored mill housing interactive displays telling story of 19th-20th century local jute production.
After purchasing our tickets in the cafe and shown the map we headed off on the self-guided tour. The first port of call was the office where we met Mr Forrester the Mill Manager who showed us around the office and explained what all the old equipment was for and how it was used.
I have to say he was engaging and interesting, interacting with the kids and asking them questions to get them interested in their surroundings.
We then headed through the doors where we learned all about jute, where it comes from and what it is used for.
The real beauty of Verdant works is that multimedia technology lets you touch the lives of the Mill workers through films and exhibits and interactive displays demonstrate how jute fibre was grown, how it is woven and why it was so important.
We got to see some of the machinery in action, but it was the hands-on activities that the kids got the most out of, trying their hands at weaving………
……..doing rubbings of old stamps and identifying contents of jute bags just by the smell were among the favourite activities.
The ground floor of the Mill was all about the product, process and industry but when we headed upstairs we got to see how the mill workers would have lived and worked.
We learned that work in the Dundee jute mills offered little but drudgery, exhaustion, low wages and constant danger. Most of the workers were women and children as they cost less to employ and employment law was virtually non-existent.
Workers lived in tiny, crammed rooms and women outnumbered men three to one in the mills, an imbalance in the labour market that gained Dundee the nickname of ‘she town’ as they became the main providers for their families.
Although work was dangerous and tough, we also got to see how they enjoyed their downtime which was usually a trip to the seaside.
We saved the most impressive part of the tour until last – the High Mill.
The High Mill is an impressive building in itself and contains a recently restored 1801 Boulton and Watt steam engine which is demonstrated at specific times during the day.
I always think it is tricky to understand how machinery like this works, but getting to see it in action with Mr Forrester talking us through how it worked was fascinating.
Verdant Works takes around 2 hours to get round and costs £9.25 per Adult, Concessions £7.25, Child £5.50 or a Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is £27.00. However, they also offer a discount on tickets if you buy joint tickets to Discovery Point, home of the RSS Endeavour which is also a great place to take the kids.