I went down to see the iconic Victorian Royal Arch being re-erected on the Dundee Waterfront the other day – in a day! It was only a cardboard version but nonetheless people got together to celebrate the spirit of innovation for which the city is famous. Now that I come to think of it sorry if ‘cardboard version’ sounds slightly disparaging. It was inventive as was ironically the cardboard version’s destruction the following day.
The original put up in the 1840s to commemorate the visit of you know who wasn’t actually the real thing. It was taken down after the monarch had left and the iconic real one was later erected. It stood there until the 1960s and er…less than visionary town planners and politicians decided to build the Tay Road Bridge in the wrong place! There’s even a video about this produced by broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and narrated by Hollywood actor Dundee’s own Brian Cox. The argument is that the bridge should actually have been built further East but of course the whole thing is complicated enough for a book never mind a blog post!
But what the Waterfront Development with the jewel in its crown being the V&A Museum is about essentially is re-connecting the city with the river. In other words we’re going back to the future (without the capitals)! Having a world renowned museum of Art and Design at the heart of that is symbolised by projects and events such as erection and removal of the ‘cardboard’ Royal Arch and the design and innovation involved. Now there’s a campaign afoot to ‘bring back’ the Royal Arch to the Waterfront! I’m not sure how that would work but the space is worth watching anyway if you ask me – not that anyone has!