Admiral Duncan pictured here was born and educated in Dundee and hence the statue on Commercial Street at the end of Seagate in the heart of the city. And the apex of his career in the British Navy was his victory at Camperdown in 1797 during the Napoleonic Wars. Camperdown is off the Dutch Coast near Haarlem. But to Dundonians it’s also a favourite country park on the North Western edge of the city. And Camperdown House the magnificent early nineteenth century mansion therein was built by Admiral Duncan’s son in his father’s honour. Though his father died several years earlier and is buried just up the road in the village churchyard at Lundie in Angus where there was a family connection.
Now if you’re from Dundee you can’t not know where Camperdown Park and Camperdown House are. Or you’re a fraud.But the Admiral’s statue in the centre of the city is not nearly so widely known I think despite his and its prominence. Still that’s a kind of prime time slot he’s got these days.
And then there’s the former Camperdown Jute Works or Cox’s Mill in Lochee as it was formerly and otherwise known. Today it’s a retail park but Camperdown used to be the biggest jute works in the world with almost six thousand workers its own fire service and post office and so on. A self contained small town almost. It was eventually overtaken by the Indian Jute Mills. The stack still stands of course – the one jute chimney left out of what were over a hundred at one point. The mill however closed in 1981.
Oh and I’ve performed in Camperdown House in my thespian days. And there’s a wildlife centre there from which wallabies escaped a few years ago and skipped or whatever wallabies do round Dundee. Though they managed to round them up without needing the Admiral’s telescope I understand! Then there’s a pink pub in London’s Soho – the Admiral Duncan. But I’ve never been there and don’t know if locals refer to it as the ‘Camperdown’!