Collage of textile images
Isolated man standing in small boat on large river
Extract of Crawford's plan of Dundee

For nearly two hundred years Dundee's prosperity was dependent on the textile industry and, in particular, on the manufacturing of jute grown in India. Dundee was the largest jute manufacturer in the world and a vital market for Indian jute producers. By the early 20th century however Calcutta had overtaken Dundee as the dominant centre for the production of jute. Nevertheless, until the 1970s many of the overseers, managers and mechanics working in Bengal jute mills came from Dundee. 

These extracts bear testimony to the lives of those who worked in the mills and factories of Dundee and Bengal. They are taken from conversations with Rhoda Miller of the Dundee Oral History Project between 2013-2015. The full, unedited interviews can be listened to in the Archive searchroom.

If you have any comments about the conversations, or any memories of your own to share, please contact us at

Weaving loom and worker, c1960Lily Thomson outlines her career as a weaver

Born in 1913, Mrs Thomson was the daughter of a mill worker and worked most of her life in the Dundee mills as a weaver. Lily still works as a volunteer for Verdant Works, Dundee’s Jute Museum, earning her the title of 'Dundee’s last working weaver'.

Length: 1 min 6 secs MP3

‌‌Jute production, c1950Lily chats about life in Dundee's mills and factories
Length 2 mins 43 secs MP3

European and Indian employees in the jute industry, c1950Tom Shepherd tells how the organisation, processes and employment in the jute industry in India compared with that of Dundee

‌Born in Dundee in 1928, Tom left School at 15 and began working in 1943 for Jute Industries in the Angus Mill. After being in the Army, Tom flew to India in 1951 to become mill manager for Thomas Duff at their jute complex at Samnaggur, where he stayed for ten years.

Length: 5 mins 16 secs MP3