Campaign to stop Dundee City Council from indiscriminately selling one of the most important civic buildings of pre-industrial Dundee, Dudhope Castle.

Campaign to stop Dundee City Council from indiscriminately selling one of the most important civic buildings of pre-industrial Dundee, Dudhope Castle.

Support Friends of Dudhope Castle to retain the Castle for the benefit of the community.

Dundee City Council Development Committee voted 15 to 11 to sell or lease the Castle in January 2021 as part of a cost-saving exercise.

The decision has been met with dismay by the local community, who fear that the Council has overlooked the architectural, archaeological and cultural importance as well as the social value of this important building.

The A-listed Dudhope Castle is one of Dundee’s oldest buildings. As architectural conservationist and AHSS Tayside and East Fife Chair, Adam Swan wrote in his letter to the council leader, John Alexander, Dudhope Castle is ‘probably the most significant civic structure of pre-industrial Dundee’.

Dundee’s original castle on the waterfront was demolished in the aftermath of 1314. Dudhope thereafter became the seat of the Scrymgeour Constables of Dundee. In 1668 the Castle and post of Constable passed to Charles Maitland, and then in 1684 to John Graham of Claverhouse or “Bonnie Dundee”, ill-fated victor of Killicrankie. After his death Dudhope was awarded to the Douglases. They leased out the castle for conversion to a woollen mill, which failed, then from 1795, as a Government barrack. The lease expired in the 1890s, and the property reverted to the Earl of Home.

The Earl planned to develop the surrounding park for housing and the Castle was threatened with demolition. The community objected and Dudhope was saved by purchase by the Corporation, aided considerably by nearby householders and other supporters. The park is still well used by the community and the castle, though increasingly derelict, was used by local groups until restored on a budget in the 1980s. It became Abertay University’s business school and, until last year’s lockdown, was most recently used as council offices.

The castle today is a distinctive L-plan range of 4-floors dating from the 1600s and the 1790s, with white lime harl, turreted corners and an impressive symmetrical entrance front. Inside is a substantial stone stair, vaulted cellars and larger spaces that could readily be adapted. It is surrounded by the public park, with mature trees, its own parterre garden and car parking alongside. Its former pleasance is the historic industrial area to the south, including the award-winning Verdant Works textiles museum, and the city centre is a quick hop over the adjacent main road.

Adam Swan has called for the castle to put be put to a use more fitting to its status, citing other ambitious recent initiatives intended to attract investment in Dundee businesses – V&A Dundee, Eden, the eSports arena and Museum of Transport. Separately, a petition objecting to the sale has attracted huge support both locally and internationally, and a newly formed Facebook ‘Friends of Dudhope Castle’ group is providing ideas and community involvement.

Sign the petition here


Dudhope Castle from the east by Ydam – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0