‘The Dens and Hovels of Dundee’: Tyndal’s Wynd (5 January, 1889)

The following is one of several articles on the poorest areas of Dundee which were published in ‘The Peoples Journal’ from the end of 1888. Tindal’s Wynd, which is the focus here, was one of the oldest streets in Dundee.

The purpose of the journalist was to reveal the terrible problems facing those living in the slums (“rookeries”) of Dundee and is spelled out in the first of this series:

It is my purpose to direct attention to both classes of insanitary buildings—the old and the new—and to describe from personal inspection the hovels and “rookeries” of this city. The evil has grown so rampant that the Police Commissioners, on the repeated suggestions of the Medical Officer of Health, have at length begun to move in this matter, and my object is to assist them as far as possible in their investigations. In the course of these inquiries, I shall be able to reveal a side of social life and its environments the existence of which is little suspected by a great many people resident in Dundee.

Compared with what I have seen elsewhere in the city during the past six weeks the slums in Tindal’s Wynd and district are decidedly the worst. The district is bounded on the North by the High Street, on the East by Castle Street, on the South by Doig’s Entry, and on the West by Tindal’s Wynd. In the area there are 22 one-roomed houses, 31 two-roomed houses, 7 three-roomed houses, and 1 five-roomed house. Of these 3 one-roomed and 4 two-roomed houses are empty. The tenements are four and five storeys in height, and the inhabitants number over 230. When it is mentioned that there is neither a privy nor ashpit within the boundaries named, that a washing-house was never heard of in the locality, and that in only one tenement has water been introduced, the sanitary condition of the place will be readily conceived.

Tindal’s Wynd, or Skirling’s Wynd as it was called 300 years ago, was at one time a fashionable place. It was there that the town residences of the Wedderburas, the Rollocks, and the Lovells were situated. But what a change has taken place within the three past centuries! The buildings have become dilapidated, and the houses, which have been converted into one, two, and three rooms, are now occupied by the poorest of the poor. Scores of people are huddled together in ill-ventilated, dark, and dirty tenements, and the courts, passages, and staircases are covered with mud and filth, giving to the place a most wretched and forbidding appearance. The tenants seem to have no desire to improve their miserable surroundings, and indeed empty the “ashes of their houses” in the handiest corner. Heaps of this refuse lie exposed till the scavengers come round—which is not always at the appointed time—and the stench arising from the accumulated filth even in cold weather is overpoweringly strong. Continue reading “‘The Dens and Hovels of Dundee’: Tyndal’s Wynd (5 January, 1889)”