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Dundee and Jute

I always knew that Dundee was a centre for the processing of jute and the manufacture of jute products (Juteopolis) and I also knew that the industry had been lost to India and other parts where Jute could be grown, although the coup de gras was administered by the advent of artificial fibres notably polypropylene.

What I didn’t know (until today) was that the industry really got started when it was discovered that by treating jute fibres with whale oil they could be processed by machine, and of course Dundee had once been heavily involved in the whaling industry.

I’m sure you will all be better for knowing this.

Categories: General
  1. September 8, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Interesting, Jazz. Definitely a case of NMPKT, Michael Caine.

  2. christinaosborne
    September 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Well if we are collecting ‘useful’ info about Dundee, may I add Marmalade making and raspberry jam? The area about the Sidlaw Hills were/are traditionally the premier raspberry growing area of the UK.

    Equally inconsequential info. Where I live now, Whatcom co. is about no 1 producer of raspberries here in the USA. Raspberries are not easy, they want constant moisture but detest wet feet, must have a very quick draining soil and plenty of rain, not an easy combination, most wet areas tend to be boggy, a complete no-no for raspberries.

    Another splendid piece of non info. Couldn’t understand why so many blackberries were grown here, not a big retail fruit, found out they are used to make non toxic black ink for children’s pens, felt tips etc. Quite extraordinary, never even considered such usage for fruit!

    Curious about the whale oil. I note jute sacks are still used for shipping coffee beans here. You can get them free if you ask nicely at the coffee shops here who all roast their own and buy in raw beans. They never come in polypropylene woven sacks, but other products do. They hang on to them and dish them out to gardeners/customers for goodwill. Very handy for paths in gardens and polytunnels.

  3. O Zangado
    September 9, 2016 at 7:14 am

    You cannot ship natural raw materials like coffee, copra or cocoa beans in polypropylene sacks because they make the product sweat, heat up like compost and even, in the worst cases, catch fire in the ship’s hold. Fire at sea is never a good thing.


  4. September 9, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Whaaat? Y’mean I can’t have open fires and a barbie on my super-yacht? I knew there was a catch.

  5. September 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Anyway, back on thread, I recall doing an assessment of a carpet mfr in Dundee in the ’70s – high qualty wool backed of course with jute.

  6. September 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Flax is another good one. A really useful plant fibres (linen, canvas…..), and oils. According to Wiki in 2011 Britain was the fifth largest producer of flax although mainly for the seeds rather than fibre.

    It would be nice to restart some of these industries they’re a lot more interesting than boring IT and stacking shelves in Tesco.

  7. christinaosborne
    September 9, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Lots of flax here in Whatcom co. It grows wild as a hedgerow plant. Beautiful sky blue flowers, very pretty.
    Once tried to spin it, positively beastly, has to be spun wet and tears your fingers to buggery! Linen is very nice and cooling to wear in hot places but much better as a percentage of the fibre otherwise the creasing is quite dreadful. Plus the ironing, no doubt why it went out of favour. You can still buy clothing with linen in it but generally rather expensive and often German in origin.

  8. christinaosborne
    September 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    I use ground flax seeds in cakes, adds a very nutty texture and moist flavour. Very tasty. and keeps fresh longer.

  9. September 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    30 years ago farmers here were offered subsidies for growing flax. I don’t know why but whole fields of tge blue flowers were special.

  10. christinaosborne
    September 9, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I think the attraction is that it is such a clear clean looking blue. Actually clear pale blue is a very unusual colour in our plants in temperate climes. Most blues have a pinkish mauvish hue. think lavender, heather etc.

  11. christinaosborne
    September 9, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Thinking about that there are more clear blues in Alpines than at lower elevations too. Thinking Alps and Rockies too.

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