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Past Times

Factories and faces – pictures of Dundee industry from days gone by

The theme for this week’s Dundonian pictorial trip down memory lane is industrial operations and factories in Dundee. reports.
Graeme Strachan
Staff members loading materials into the back of the van at Tayside Plumbing Supplies in 1997. Image: DC Thomson.
Staff members loading materials into the back of the van at Tayside Plumbing Supplies in 1997. Image: DC Thomson.

The theme for this week’s pictorial trip down memory lane is industrial operations and factories in Dundee.

The DC Thomson archives team has dug out a varied and interesting selection of photographs for this memory-jogging tour.

Grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy having another browse back through the ages courtesy of The Dundonian, which appears in the Evening Telegraph every Wednesday.

Some of these photographs have not been seen for years.

Do you know a friend or family member who worked in the industry back in the day?

You might find them in some of the images in our gallery.


1968

A view of one of the largest machine shops in Europe. Image: DC Thomson.
A view of one of the largest machine shops in Europe. Image: DC Thomson.

Timex was part of the post-war prosperity boom, the big-shot US company that promised great things and did, in fact, deliver.

Back in its mid-1960s heyday, the Timex facilities in Dundee were massive – 240,000 square feet at Milton of Craigie, 190,000 square feet at Dunsinane Avenue and the flagship factory at Harrison Road was the UK’s largest supplier of watches.

1983

Tay Textiles workshop. Image: DC Thomson.
Tay Textiles workshop. Image: DC Thomson.

A busy Tay Textiles workshop is up next from October 1983.

Several women are pictured working at the individual stations at the West Marketgait premises and feeding material through the sewing machines.

1984

Bill Anderson operates a guillotine at Torbrex Engineering in December 1984. Image: DC Thomson.
Bill Anderson operates a guillotine at Torbrex Engineering in December 1984. Image: DC Thomson.

Torbrex was originally formed in the 1960s and operated as a relatively small general engineering company from premises at Dunsinane Industrial Estate for a number of years.

In the mid-1970s the company was taken over by businessman Bob Moore, who began a steady programme of expansion which saw the company increase both its markets and its workforce.

1987

Tyseal Business Systems. Image: DC Thomson.
Tyseal Business Systems. Image: DC Thomson.

Smiling faces all round in November 1987!

Staff of Tyseal Business Systems were standing in a line and celebrating following a move to new company premises in Guthrie Street.

1989

A staff member moving materials in the warehouse. Image: DC Thomson.
A staff member moving materials in the warehouse. Image: DC Thomson.

Our next image shows a forklift operator at work in Tay Firth Laminates’ new warehouse at the Dunsinane Industrial Estate in April 1989.

Launched in 1976, Tay Firth was at the outset a one-van, one-person company.

1990

Tenco Engineers in October 1990. Image: DC Thomson.
Tenco Engineers in October 1990. Image: DC Thomson.

Engineers at work on the shop floor at Tenco’s warehouse in October 1990.

Do you know anyone who used to work there?

1992

Tele Taxis. Image: DC Thomson.
Tele Taxis. Image: DC Thomson.

Anne Andrew and Dougie Inglis sitting at the Tay Taxis control room in 1992.

The company was founded in 1958 with only 10 cars and these days they operate over 350 vehicles and still provide a 24/7 365 days a year service.

1993

TDF workshop. Image: DC Thomson.
TDF workshop. Image: DC Thomson.

Staff at work at the Tayside Door Factory workshop in September 1993.

Four staff members were working with wood and different machinery in this photograph, which was included in an Evening Telegraph advertising feature.

1995

Staff standing next to several microwaves. Image: DC Thomson.
Staff standing next to several microwaves. Image: DC Thomson.

Some of TRAK Microwave’s employees were pictured in April 1995.

TRAK – based at Dunsinane Industrial Estate – suppled microwave components for a wide range of applications from satellites and radar to mobile telecommunications.

1995

Top Hat Foods Ltd director John Whitehead was celebrating in 1995 with Tesco's Scottish marketing manager Isa Kinnear.
Top Hat Foods. Image: DC Thomson.

Top Hat Foods Ltd director John Whitehead was celebrating in 1995 with Tesco’s Scottish marketing manager Isa Kinnear.

The Dundee company struck a supply deal for Yorkshire puddings.

1996

A staff member measuring a section of glass at Tayglass in Mains Loan in April 1996.
Tayglass at Mains Loan. Image: DC Thomson.

A staff member measuring a section of glass at Tayglass in Mains Loan in April 1996.

The double glazing company ceased trading in September 1997 with the loss of five jobs.

1997

TDI Batteries management watching operator Michael Fettes at work. Image: DC Thomson.
TDI Batteries management watching operator Michael Fettes at work. Image: DC Thomson.

In 1991 American-owned battery company TDI set up manufacturing at the Wester Gourdie Industrial Estate and became one of the fastest-growing manufacturers in the UK before moving to the Claverhouse Industrial Estate at the height of its operation.

The Dundee-based company employed more than 850 people to make lithium-ion batteries for mobile phones.

The May 2001 blaze at the TDI Batteries plant at the Claverhouse Industrial Estate would rank as one of the city’s worst and completely destroyed the building.

TDI Batteries was absorbed into Axeon Holdings in 2004.

Did our pictorial trip back in time jog any memories for you?

Let us know.