Tuesday, 18 August 2009


On this day 43 years ago, the Tay Road Bridge was officially opened.
Also on this day 43 years ago when I was aged 8, I was playing with my mates in the culdee where I lived, when one of my neighbours shouted over to us to ask if we wanted to go across the bridge. Needless to say, we all piled into his car. It was around teatime we set off, thinking we were in for a nice pleasant half hour trip, however, it seemed like the rest of Dundee had the same idea at the same time as the queue from our end of town was miles long, right along Dock St & Broughty Ferry Road. It was the same over in Fife when we eventually inched our way along the bridge. It was dark when we got back after what turned out to be about a 4-5 hour crawl, with the parents worried what had happened to us.
I remember the neighbour saying "At least, when you're old, you'll be able to tell people that you went across the bridge the day it opened!" - and I think this is that very moment!
I also recall there was a bit of a rush for Dundonians to get their mitts on one of these First Day Covers that commemorated the occasion. Wonder how many kept theirs though?
The film clip below is from the same day too and has a bit about the "new" bridge and how Dundee was looking forward into the future!
Lord Provost Maurice McManus explains the reasons for the bridge and its cost.
By the way, he is who the McManus Galleries building is named after.


  1. Why is the McManus Galleries named after him?

  2. I remember it being a sunny day and the city centre was crowded,the bars and restaurants were mobbed.It seemed weird to us watching the opening ceremony live on a T.V. in the Pillars Bar while we could hear the pipe bands etc.from the bottom of rhe street

  3. I've still got my first day cover too.
    The RAF were fractionally early with their fly-past and interrupted the royal address.
    The bridge was more pleasing with its viewing platforms but there were good reasons for these being taken off.
    In the bridge's creation, the Royal Arch came down in the name of 'progress'.
    Other landmarks came down in the sixties and seventies but that was entirely down to brown envelopes being passed.

  4. I still have the coin given to us as school children over in Fife to commemorate the opening. Can also remember the frigates and destroyers being in the Tay and the crowds at the Fife end roundabout, we too were taken for a hurl over the bridge and back in my Dads Ford Zephyr but can't remember it taking very long though !

  5. Can't believe they demolished the West Station the idiot Mcmanus should have been shot. Its a disgrace the Mcmanus Galleries was named after him

  6. the most shocking piece of this clip is the sight of the demolition of Dundee West and the rest of the surrounding buildings.
    this type of civic vandalism seemed to continue all the way to the 1980s, what were Dundee Council thinking?

  7. "Dundee, more than any other city in great britain, is digging out it's past". umm!!!

  8. I have to agree the video of the buildings being demolished was like watching a horrible car crash.
    And the phrase "digging out it's past" is just unforgivable.

  9. The destruction of Dundee was despicable.
    Some of the perpetrators went to jail for this and others didn't.
    From the tone of some of the comments, I think a few people need to find out what went on.
    'Nuff said from me!

  10. Re the first comment - the old museum came under the control of the council in 1959. It was in June 1984 the name change to McManus Galleries took place. The Council voted 25 - 16 in favour of it. It seems the choice was just a "Dundee dignatory" thing, nothing to do with art or history.
    Getting back to the main topic...it wasn't a Dundonian or even a Fifer who was the first member of the public to drive across the Tay Road Bridge and pay the toll, it was a Mr Samuel Marshall - of Peterhead!

  11. I still have my first day cover, but would rather have had the West Station and the Royal Arch. At least they could have taken down the arch and rebuilt it on another site.

  12. i came to dundee in 1988, aged 19 and think it's a great city. however the more ive learnt over the years of how many great buildings were destroyed in the name of progress in the period from the caird hall construction up to the wellgate in late seventies, the sadder and angrier i have become. sure some of the slums had to cleared up to a degree, but in dundee it seems they didnt know when to stop. certainly, the old town house, royal arch, dundee west station were not slums!

  13. Whilst not condoning the bulldozing of Dundee, it was policy elsewhere in the post-war, brave new world.
    Today I was in Dysart where nineteen sixties buildings are being pulled down and where a few late medieval edifices remain.
    Fifty years ago, they ALL did.
    These awful flats won a Saltire Award for architecture but incredibly it was the developers who made sure some old buildings remained when the local council gave them carte blanche to level the place.
    Other places in Britain will have similar stories.