The RRS Discovery pictured here in dry dock though not perhaps at its best since yours truly was cameraman has been synonymous with Dundee’s regeneration since it retraced Dick Whittington’s steps and came home from London in 1986. I’m sure you didn’t know Dick Whittington was from Dundee. Well he wasn’t – I made that up but you know what I mean I hope. City of Discovery One City Many Discoveries Hidden Discoveries if the last’s not an oxymoron. By the way when teaching oxymoron as a figure of speech back in the day I had to be careful I can tell you – some kids thought it was an insult before I explained!
Today the museum at Discovery Point is big sister to Verdant Works Scotland’s Jute Museum where I’m one of the Tour Guides. Both museums are independent and award winning and between them bring in over 100,000 visitors a year to Dundee from all over the globe. Although to the best of my knowledge we’ve had nobody from Antarctica which is slightly odd for the city that built Discovery in the first place to take Captain Scott to the South Pole. When I was training to be a Tour Guide I shadowed some of the experienced guides at Discovery Point and one of the reasons I opted for Verdant Works and Jute was that I didn’t know a lot about topsails and main braces and the like not being the most nautical of chaps. In fact the only time in my life I’ve actually had reason to utter such terms was when playing a ship owning character called Alderman Fitzwarren in a pantomime. And the name of the panto…………Dick Whittington of course!
Now the reason Discovery is in dry dock is that it’s due to welcome an up market next door neighbour in a couple of years in the shape of the V&A Museum at Dundee. It’s to be the jewel in the crown or should that be the flag on the ship of the multi-million pound waterfront redevelopment reconnecting the city with the river. Which is er…..the way it was before. Before some artistically challenged town planners got their hands on it in the sixties and seventies and among other things built the Tay Road Bridge in the wrong place! DGMS! The V&A is projected to bring half a million visitors to the City of Discovery in the first year and around 300,000 a year thereafter. But the hard hats will need to put in a few shifts first. Watch this space folks!