Broughty Ferry

Dundee City

Broughty Ferry
©2024 Gazetteer for Scotland

Broughty Ferry

A small port and residential suburb to the east of Dundee, Broughty Ferry (or 'The Ferry') is situated on the north bank of the Firth of Tay. Once a fishing village and ferry port, Broughty Ferry developed as a residential and resort town during the 19th Century when many of its fine villas were erected by jute industrialists from Dundee. Indeed it is said that there was a greater density of millionaires here in the later 19th C. than in any other similarly-sized suburb in Britain. A steamboat brought day-trippers from Dundee on a Sunday. The Dundee and Arbroath Railway opened in 1838, bringing yet more tourists from Dundee but also allowing the wealthy to commute daily into the city. The Dundee, Broughty Ferry and District Tramway began its service in 1905 giving a cheaper and more frequent travel option. An increasing number of holiday-makers were attracted by fine sandy beaches, bathing machines, pleasure boats, music and other entertainments.

Created a Police Burgh in 1854 but incorporated with the City of Dundee in 1913, Broughty Ferry has retained its distinctive character, with a fine seafront, esplanade and harbour. The tidal harbour was built in 1849-51 by railway engineers Thomas Bouch and Thomas Grainger to provide a ferry connection with Tayport on the opposite bank of the river. Both passenger and goods trains once serviced a station on the pier via a branch of the railway. There were once 180 fishing boats based here at the peak of the industry in the 1880s. Guarding the mouth of the Tay estuary, the 15th-century Broughty Castle overlooks the harbour. Built in 1498, the castle was restored during the 19th century and now houses a museum featuring displays on Dundee's maritime history. A lifeboat station was established on Fisher Street in 1830, the first inshore lifeboat station in Scotland. Its lifeboat Mona was lost with all hands in 1959. The Royal Tay Yacht Club was established in West Ferry in 1885.

Today, Broughty Ferry benefits from three primary schools and one secondary (Grove Academy) and, although the tramway is gone, Broughty Ferry Railway Station remains in use. There are three notable churches; St. Mary's Episcopal Church (1858 by Sir George Gilbert Scott), St. Steven's & West Church (1871) and St. Luke's & Queen Street (1884). St. Steven's has some of the finest stained glass windows in Scotland, designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and assembled by William Morris between 1893 and 1915. In 1897, a bakery and cake shop was opened on Gray Street by David Goodfellow and Margaret Steven, who later married. Gillies of Broughty Ferry began as cabinet makers and upholsterers in 1895 and, catering for the wealthy owners of the grand houses here, established a reputation in home furnishings which is retained to this day. Both of these businesses now have branches across Eastern Scotland.

Notable residents included astronomer Rev. Thomas Dick (1774 - 1857), James Guthrie Orchar (1825-98), who served as Provost, engineer Sir Alexander Gibb (1872 - 1958), cartoonist Dudley D. Watkins (1907-69), Wing Commander Hugh Malcolm (1917-42), who won the Victoria Cross, nationalist leader Gordon Wilson (1938 - 2017), historian Raymond Lamont-Brown (b.1939), musician Roger Ball (b.1944) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang actress Heather Ripley (b.1959). Bob Servant, the comic cheeseburger tycoon in the books by Neil Forsyth (b.1978), is a fictional resident of Broughty Ferry.

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