Skip to Content
50th anniversary
  • Celebrations begin to commemorate 50 years of the University of Dundee

    2017
  • The University of Dundee becomes a fully independent institution under the terms of the Royal Charter.

    1967
  • Ordinances issued in 1897 made University College form part of St Andrews. and establish a Faculty of Medicine.

    1897
  • The Deed formally creating University College Dundee was signed by founders Miss Mary Ann Baxter and her cousin Dr John Boyd Baxter.

    1881

Radical Politics

  • date

    Fri, 21 Apr 2017

  • Running Time

    00:04:26

Being a student is a time that should be laced with singular thinking and perhaps a time for activism. At the University of Dundee precedent has certainly been set for that.

Episode Transcript

While many people say that Dundee has had a rebellious streak throughout its history, it’s perhaps more true to say that it has embraced those who encourage radical or singular thought.


Being a student is a time that should be laced with singular thinking and perhaps a time for activism. At the University of Dundee precedent has certainly been set for that.


The first Principal of the independent University of Dundee was Professor James Drever.


Born in Edinburgh, Professor Drever was a lifelong academic, aside from service in the Royal Navy. Psychology was his discipline, succeeding his father as Professor of Psychology in Edinburgh in 1944. The department flourished under his leadership, but Drever also had a wider interest in how higher education was delivered.


He was appointed to the 1963 Committee on Higher Education chaired by Lionel Robbins, which, as one of its recommendations said that Queen's College, Dundee, should be a university.


So, in 1966, Drever was given the role of managing the transition as Master of Queen's College and the following year became the University of Dundee’s first principal and vice-chancellor.


It was a difficult first few years and he had to deal with not only financial restrictions but student protest. Rather than maintaining a distance however, Drever lent some support to the student rent strike in 1973 as well as other protests. Most famously, he openly encouraged the opposition to a visit to the University by Enoch Powell in 1969.


He spent 11 years in office and guided and helped to shape the respected institution it is today.


The city has also produced political mavericks, with Edwin Scrymgeour the only MP who has ever sat in House of Commons as a member of the Scottish Prohibition Party.


The Dundonian established the party in 1901 to try and further his work in the temperance movement and served on the city council before looking towards Westminster and fighting elections, competing against the incumbent MP, Winston Churchill.


By 1922, he finally managed to unseat the increasingly unpopular Churchill and represented  the two-seat Dundee constituency alongside Labour candidate ED Morel.


Scrymgeour was an MP for almost 10 years. Scrymgeour’s zeal for clean-living was never unbowed and he became an evangelical Chaplain among the city’s poorest at East House and Maryfield Hospital in Dundee.


He was succeeded by Florence Horsbrugh, Dundee’s first female MP. She was also first Conservative to represent the city – as much of a surprise then as it would be today.


For many of Dundee’s reformers, time spent abroad had a lasting effect on their thinking.


George Kinloch, who was born in Dundee in 1775 became the first MP for Dundee when it was given a seat in Parliament in 1832. He had travelled to France as a young man and at the age of 22 watched as the monarchy and aristocracy crumbled and a republic was established.


The Kinlochs were wealthy landowners, but his experiences in France had shaped his political views. He bought a large amount of land in Angus in 1808, but provided grants to prospective tenants and in 1814 was pivotal to the harbour extension at Dundee.


Kinloch’s popularity waned with his years of campaigning for reform of Parliament – so much so that he was forced to escape to France.  With the blessing of George IV, however, he was free to return. Just a year later in 1832 he became MP but died just two months after taking up his seat.

Peggy Hughes

Peggy

Peggy manages Literary Dundee, a University of Dundee initiative that celebrates books, reading and writing.

Literary Dundee was included in the List Magazine's Hot 100, their annual celebration of the figures who've contributed most to the cultural landscape during the year.

She has worked for the University since 2013 and before that worked with literary organisations such as the Scottish Poetry Library and the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.

Peggy works with books in her spare time too - interviewing authors at events and festivals, talking about books on the radio and other platforms. She sits on the board of the Craigmillar Literacy Trust and Highlight Arts, and when not reading or talking about books, enjoys walks, Scrabble, tweed, singing tunelessly, and cake.

Peggy was listed at number 51 in the Courier's Impact 100 2016 (their 'annual review of the people who have done the most — good or bad — to affect life in Courier country') for services to Dundee's cultural life.

 

All podcasts

  • Celebrations begin to commemorate 50 years of the University of Dundee

    2017
  • The University of Dundee becomes a fully independent institution under the terms of the Royal Charter.

    1967
  • Ordinances issued in 1897 made University College form part of St Andrews. and establish a Faculty of Medicine.

    1897
  • The Deed formally creating University College Dundee was signed by founders Miss Mary Ann Baxter and her cousin Dr John Boyd Baxter.

    1881
Edit