Anna: Across the road from the High School, we have the original DC Thomson building that has recently been refurbished. This is where a great many fabulous journalistic things started such as Jackie, Shout Magazine, You & Your Pets, People’s Friend, The Scots Magazine. If you look above the building, you’ll see a tall, glass structure that Roald Dahl took some inspiration from for Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator. Dahl worked here briefly in the early sixties, but ultimately moved on to Hollywood.
Kevy: There is also a more recent modern addition to the roof of the building, where it has been extended vertically by 1.5 stories, affording a 360 degree vista across Dundee.That room features Denis the Menace and Gnasher wallpaper that was painstakingly created by hand in several artisanal care homes in the city. You can ask DC Thomson for a tour of the building.
Anna: The docents on the tour are fully trained in Dennis the Menacology. Dundee University currently offer a post-graduate course in the Beano and Dandy, which has proven to be quite popular. Quite unfairly, some people have referred to it as a genuinely ‘mickey mouse’ course, which is entirely inaccurate as Mickey Mouse was not created by DC Thomson.
Kevy: There has been quite the controversy over that though.
Anna: We can’t talk about that. Legally.
Kevy: Moving on, turn back around to face the statue of Robert Burns. Rab, as he was known, was a Dundee Mill worker at one time. He had a number of jobs in his lifetime, not finding recognition for his poetry. He worked in the fields, on farms, in shipyards, as a wandering minstrel.
Anna: He was a chocolatier at one point then he polished boots outside the Macmanus. Behind Rabbie Burns, you can see the curving staircase of the Macmanus. It was designed at the time, by town planner James Travesty, to mimic the Italian passeggiata concept, where citizens could walk around, congregate, eat a gelato, chat up the opposite sex and be generally convivial.
Kevy: The Macmanus is a gothic revival styled building, looking back in inspiration to medieval gothic architecture. You can see here gothic decorative patterns, finials, scalloping, lancet windows, hood mouldings, the spire itself and its weather vane.
Anna: The weather vane has been struck by lightning four times, and locals will tell you that when it is struck by lightning usually something catastrophic happens in the city immediately afterwards. So strongly held is this superstition, that if a storm is brewing, local betting is suspended for all football matches – even the five-a-side leagues.
Kevy: The most catastrophic post lightning event was when the Macmanus itself caught fire, causing it to be closed from 2003 to 2009. This was compounded by subsidence problems, that come from the marshy, boggy land that Dundee was built upon. Most of the buildings in this area have lower foundations that are entirely sprung, so that they can subtly rock during subsidence at a base level and avoid movement in the brickwork and prevent serious structural damage.
Anna: With the Macmanus behind you, cross over the road moving towards the DC Thomson building, the corner of Courier place and Albert square. You can see down Meadowside at the building at the far end which is the Barrack Street storage facility that housed the Macmanus collection during their refurbishment and repair, including the Tay whale, which is now back on display.
Kevy: There has been a long running campaign to repatriate the whale to the Tay, though it hasn’t caught the imagination of the public.
Continue on ahead for a short distance until you see the gates of the Howff cemetery on your left. Then cross the road safely and stop at the gates.