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Craig Harbour and Discovery Dock
Discovery Point, Dundee, Angus, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Thomas Telford
Not known
date  1821, 1992 - 1993
UK era  Modern  |  category  Docks/Slipway  |  reference  NO403298
ICE reference number  HEW 1010
Near the Tay Bridge on the Dundee Firth of Tay waterfront lies Craig Harbour (1821), designed by Thomas Telford. In the 1990s, one section of the harbour was used to create a dedicated wet dock for the Royal Research Ship Discovery, the three-masted sailing ship famous for Antarctic exploration. The dock and adjacent quay area now form Discovery Point, home of Dundee's Antarctic Museum.
The original small harbour was designed by Telford (1757-1834) to accommodate the Tay Ferry, which ran from Dundee to Tayport. The whole is trapezoidal in plan and covers about 0.4ha. ON the west side, it was bounded by the masonry structure of Craig Pier (also known as Craigie Pier), now landlocked through infilling. Harbour and pier were completed by 1821. Telford also designed Newport Pier on the opposite bank. The combined construction cost was some 22,000.
Craig Pier originally had three arched openings in it, each 7.6m wide. These provided extra access for small vessels. West of the pier, the land was reclaimed, as mentioned, probably before 1885. Little of Telford's masonry can be seen today. A 1943 photo of the area shows the pier extended into the firth (using steelwork?), presumably through some wartime necessity. The extension has now gone.
In 1992-3, the new wet dock was created on the west side of the harbour, against the pier. It was specifically designed for RRS Discovery the last timber three-masted ship built in the country. She is famous for the voyage undertaken by Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912), Edward Wilson (1872-1912) and Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), in their attempt to reach the South Pole.
Discovery was built specifically for research, by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company at Panmure Shipyard (NO409302) south of Victoria Docks, Dundee. She is 52.4m long and 10m wide, and was constructed in a year, finishing 21st March 1901. She reached Antarctica on 8th January 1902, was trapped by sea ice for two years and had to be freed by controlled explosions, eventually returning to Britain on 10th September 1904.
In 1905, she was sold to the Hudson Bay Company and used to transport cargo between London and Canada. She was used as a munitions ship in World War I (1914-18). In 1923, she was bought by the Crown Agents for the Colonies, registered at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, designated a Royal Research Ship, and refitted. She undertook various expeditions in southern waters between 1925 and 1931.
Over the years, the Sea Scouts and Royal Navy Auxiliary Reserve used her, but by 1979 she was dilapidated. Her restoration commenced with a grant from the Maritime Trust and she was berthed on the River Thames in London. In 1985, new owners, Dundee Heritage Trust, brought he back to Dundee, where she is on permanent display.
Architect (visitor centre): Michael Laird Partnership
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SHI

Craig Harbour and Discovery Dock