Camperdown Works in Lochee, Dundee was undoubtedly the city’s most famous industrial complex, and its iconic chimney “Cox’s Stack” remains one of Dundee’s most recognisable landmarks.

Drawing of a chimney shaft
Camperdown Chimney Shaft, 1865

Owned by the Cox Brother, who were already established in the linen trade in Lochee, the works began with the construction of a Power Loom Factory in 1849.

Engraving of Dundee
Camperdown Works c. 1887

Thereafter it rapidly expanded becoming the largest jute works in the world. It had its own railway branch line which joined the Dundee and Newtyle Railway and by 1900 employed in excess of 5,000 people.

Plan of area of factory
Camperdown Works, 1901

Its outstanding feature was of course Cox’s Stack a 282 ft high brick chimney designed by George A Cox and the architect James Maclaren which was built in the 1860s. Visible from miles around, it symbolised the power and success of the Cox Brothers and Dundee’s textile industry in general.

Picture of workers outside a factory
Workers leaving the factory 1900s

The works finally closed in 1981 and was sold for demolition a few years later. In 1988 the semi-derelict, and partly demolished, site was chosen to represent wartime Berlin the BBC mini-series Christabel starring a then barely known Elizabeth Hurley. One of the child extras who spent a day filming at the site (which really did look convincing as a warzone) was the author of this entry. The rubble and falling apart buildings looked good in screen, though any one familiar with Dundee might have been taken aback to see that Cox’s Stack had a hitherto unrecorded German twin.

The next few years saw a big change for the remains of the works. As with many other former mills in Dundee around this time some of it was converted into housing.

Photograph of the chimney and snow
Cox’s Stack in snow, 1996

However other parts of the site were adapted into the new Stack Leisure Park which included the building of Dundee’s first multiplex cinema, a bowling alley and a bingo hall.

Photograph of the Odean Cinema
Odeon Cinema, Stack Leisure Park, Lochee c 1997

The Dundee based supermarket-chain William Low (always known in Dundee as Willie Low’s) opened a large new store in converted mill buildings.  Sadly, the lives of these new enterprises mostly proved to be relatively short. Tesco, who took over William Low in 1994, eventually moved to larger premises at South Road in the 2000s, while the Bowling Alley and Cinema closed.

Photograph of Tescos
Tesco, Stack Leisure Park, Lochee c 1997

The Stack (now branded as the Stack Leisure and Retail Park) is now home to a number of shops. However the chimney from which it got its name continues to proudly stand over it, serving as a memorial to Dundee’s industrial heritage.

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