Another in our occasional series from the University Archives looking at changes in Dundee. The street that is now Victoria Road started off life as Bucklemaker Wynd, which ran east from the point at Laywell where the Wellgate joined the Hilltown to Forebank beside the Dens burn.
By the mid 19th century this narrow street had become a busy thoroughfare as, with the construction of the Victoria Bridge over the Dens burn, it now linked to the Arbroath Road via the new Victoria Street, while Dens Road provided access to the north of the city.
This led to its rebuilding as Victoria Road, named for the Queen, as part of the measures brought in to modernise Dundee following the Improvement Act of 1871.
The much wider street posed a problem where the Wellgate and Hilltown met and the changed gradient resulted in the Wellgate being curved so as to join it, with the original line of the road being replaced by the famous Wellgate steps.
The rebuilding saw the erection of many new buildings including tenements and shops as well as some industrial structures. Notable among the latter was the impressive Victoria Road Calender, operated by the Victoria Road Calendering Company, which was built between 1874 and 1875. The same period also saw the Forebank dyeworks gain a grand new frontage on Victoria Road.
For much of the next 100 years the street was little changed, however the 1970s saw much of its south side demolished as part of the redevelopments which included the construction of the Wellgate Centre and the new Central Library. This period also saw the demolition of the former Victoria Road School, which had started life in 1798 as the original Dundee (Royal) Infirmary.
Further change came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the completion of the inner ring road involved tunnelling under the road and led to the demolition of buildings including the Vic, one of Dundee’s last traditional cinemas. Another loss came a few years later with the final closure of McGill Brothers, Dundee’s last independent department store. In the image below McGill Brothers was at one point next to the Wellgate and at another time on the Hilltown corner. The Vic was roughly opposite the Little Theatre.
If you enjoyed this post go to Home and search for Then and now to read more from the University Archives.