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Former Smugglers bar in Dundee could be demolished as building deemed ‘threat to public safety’

The original Smugglers bar, right, is now deemed a threat to public safety. Left is the building now.
The original Smugglers bar, right, is now deemed a threat to public safety. Left is the building now.

A derelict Dundee jute building last known as the popular Smugglers bar could soon be demolished.

Developers want to knock down the small two-storey A-listed building and reinstate a boundary wall which runs beside it.

They say the 133-year-old unit on Constable Street, which is on the grounds of Hotel Indigo, has deteriorated to such an extent it is now a “threat to public safety.”

Marquee function suite, and Smugglers public bar, Dundee.

Smugglers bar and the adjoining Marquee nightclub were popular haunts for locals from the 1970s to the 2000s.

The nightspot was run by David Young, who at the time was one of Dundee’s longest serving publicans.

Marquee, which was not a listed building, was demolished a number of years ago with a boundary wall built in its place.

Smugglers closed at the same time, amid a regeneration of the area, but its name lived on when the Northeastern Bar on nearby Princes Street was re-named.

Smugglers site branded ‘dangerous’

Former Smugglers on Constable Street, Dundee. Supplied by Google.

In a planning application to Dundee City Council, owners Aparthotel Limited (Dundee) argue action needs to be taken immediately.

A statement reads: “Demolition is now critical given the dangerous nature of the building; the building is now a threat to public safety.

“This decision has been informed by professional views from conservation architects and structural engineers.

Lower Dens Works before the Hotel Indigo transformation, behind the city’s former Marquee club and Smugglers bar.

The ground will likely be reused as part of the hotel’s car park or for landscaping, the application says.

Before becoming a pub, the Smugglers building was part of the famous Lower Dens Works, once the world’s largest linen factory.

It was built as an office in 1889 for security and oversight of the main vehicular access to the site, and to house the manager’s office.

Building not as historically important as main mills

A heritage assessment carried out by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation states the building “cannot be described as a key element” of the wider Lower Dens Works.

Smugglers, pictured on the far right, was attached to the Marquee nightclub and function suite.

It states: “The Bell Mill, North Mill, Dens Street Mill, and St Roque’s Mill are undoubtedly of considerable interest, and significant resources have been invested to ensure their survival.

“The office was a minor addition to St Roque’s Mill of 1889, possibly constructed by the local joiners, Charles Smith & Son.

“It has low-level historic and economic interest as part of the works effected by the well-known Dundee linen manufacturers, the Baxter Brothers, on their purchase of the mill complex in 1889.

Smugglers in 1988.

“The building has been altered unsympathetically by the addition of a further storey in the late 1930s or 1940s and the addition of features such as the metal balcony in the 1990s.

“It is understood that no decorative features of the original manager’s office survived the 1930s alterations and conversion of the building to a bar.”

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