audio transcript

By the end of 1903 the Town Council looked after Baxter Park. The Parks and Cemeteries Committee had ordered some thinning out of the shrubs and replanting of the flower beds. They also built a new play area for children and more bowling greens.

By 1907, new housing had been built on either side of the Park, which those from the poorer parts of the city could only dream about living in. The likes of the architects, mill furnishers, and gentlewomen living in the new villas in Dalkeith Road were privileged to have their own keys to the Park’s gates.  The milliners, clerks, shopkeepers and teachers living in the new Baxter Park Terrace tenements enjoyed homes of two rooms or more, with running water and indoor toilets as well as a nice view of the Park. On the other hand, just down the road in Ann Street was a mix of housing, some being single room tenements with limited sanitation. In the poorest parts of Dundee, many houses had dark and narrow stairs, one outside toilet for lots of people, and tiny rooms where whole families were crammed. Six or seven mill girls could be living together in a one-room flat. Apart from their crowded living space, they would be working in a noisy, grimy mill, full of stour and with the ever-threat of fire. Baxter Park could offer a brief respite to what was often a tough existence for many of Dundee’s workers, providing space and fresh air.

One mill girl might well have described her visit to the Park like this:

It is the year 1907 and as I walk into Baxter Park, I look around to see freshly planted flowers and trees with young children exploring the Park as I sit down and breath in the fresh summer air and drift off to sleep. My thoughts are filled with loud jute machines running at all hours of the day beginning at 5:30am to the late hours of the night. The large buildings filled to the brim with busy and tired workers, struggling to keep their families afloat.

As I leave the Park I notice the tall buildings along the quiet street. The buildings are simple but sophisticated, filled with many high-class people and women wearing beautiful dresses. Oh, how I wished I lived there! It would be lovely compared to my dirty and patched dress and my one bedroom house that is home to nine people and with no running water and a toilet shared between 29 people!

Dundee was full of different classes but everyone in the town could enjoy the Park for its fresh air and wide green spaces.

Look for other benches with qr codes and listen to more stories about the history of Baxter Park.

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