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10 cool facts about the Hilltown that you should know

Hilltown is one of the most notable neighbourhoods in Dundee and it has some pretty cool facts, for instance, did you know it was not always part of the city? Here's 10 cool facts about the Hilltown you should know about.

1. The Hilltown was not always called the Hilltown

The Hilltown has not always been known as the Hilltown - the area actually was once known as Rottenrow. The origin of the name "Rottenrow" is unclear, with various theories proposed, including its association with military muster, corpse transportation, or simply referring to the soft material covering its roads.

2. It also went by the name of Bonnet Hill

Hilltown also went by the name of Bonnet Hill as well according to various accounts. It was called this due to the fact that the area was chiefly inhabited by bonnet-makers, who frequently plied their vocation when seated outside of their dwellings.

3. It's clock also had a different name

The famous Hilltown Clock, situated atop of the Hilltown at Lesley's sandwich shop, is the symbol of the Hilltown. But much like Hilltown itself, the clock too had a different name. It originally went under the guise of "Barrie's Clock", named after the councillor Charles Barrie, who gifted the clock to the city in 1900.

4. Hilltown was not always part of Dundee - and it even had a rivalry with the city

Hilltown may be situated in the centre ground of Dundee, but for a long time, it actually wasn't part of Dundee as it had itself been created a burgh of barony in 1643, and to many accounts, Hilltown actually was a rival to Dundee in many ways, as it developed its own character and industries, often conflicting with Dundee over trade and governance.

5. It was a popular neighbourhood for families after the war

In the years following the Second World War, the Hilltown became a popular spot for young families after the war. The population had increased in Dundee further and . By the 1960s, new housing in the form of multis would be constructed including the Alexander Street Multis - and the Derby Street Multis.

6. Hilltown was home to the tallest inhabited buildings in the city

Speaking of the Hilltown Multis (or Derby Street Multis, to be more official) were built in the 1960s and were at the time, the tallest inhabited buildings in the city. Towering high at 67 meters, the Derby Street multis were 23 storeys in height, these multis soared over the city's skyline before they were demolished in 2012.

7. It had its own cinema

The Hilltown once had its own cinema, an Odeon cinema to be more precise, which was located just off the Coldside, next to the library. The cinema opened in the 1930s and closed in the 1970s and is now the location of the BrightSun tanning salon.

8. It was an ideal spot for those working in the jute mills

Hilltown was an ideal place to live for those who worked in the jute mills as it provided accessibility to the mills. Hilltown itself was home to several jute mills including Caldrum Works which was one of the last textile jute mills in operation in the city.

9. It has a hidden 'art park'

Nearby the top of the Hilltown is the DPM Graffiti Park, home to the longest legal graffiti wall in Scotland. This hidden art park is the location of the Dundee Graffiti Jams which are hosted in the city every year. The graffiti jam are also responsible for the beautiful Oor Wullie mural on the side of the Hilltown Clock!

10. Hilltown is undergoing an amazing revival

Hilltown is considered one of the more rougher areas in Dundee, but that narrative is changing. The Hilltown is currently undergoing an amazing revival, it is becoming a hub of several cultural events and the site of the Derby Street multis is now occupied by modern housing and new community facilities.

1 Comment

All over Dundee
All over Dundee
6 days ago

Another cool fact is that the Alexander Street & Derby Street multis were the only multis in the city to be 'architecturally' designed and were bespoke to the city. The legs butterburn & bucklemaker courts stood on were supposed to resemble the Tay bridge, and the red & blue stripe down the middle lined up with Dens and Tanadice when viewed from the Law. They were also the tallest buildings in Scotland outside Glasgow, it was a sad day seeing they giants go.


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