Slessor Gardens

An area of greenspace in the centre of Dundee, Slessor Gardens were created on the site of the seventeen-storey former Tayside House, itself built on the site of the Earl Grey and King William IV docks, which formed the western section of Dundee Harbour. Extending to 1.07 ha / 2.65 acres, the gardens were opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on the 6th July 2016. The gardens are named in honour of Mary Slessor (1848 - 1915), a Dundee resident who was noted for her missionary work in Nigeria.

The King William IV Dock was built 1812-25 by Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834) and the Earl Grey Dock followed in 1834, the work of James Leslie (1801-89). The immense Royal Arch was built by John T. Rochead (1814-78) between 1849 and 1853 at the entrance to these docks to commemorate a visit to the city by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert five years previously. This was quite an occasion as it was the first visit of a reigning sovereign to Dundee since the 17th C., although Victoria was to visit often thereafter on route to her summer home at Balmoral Castle. Despite being much-loved by Dundonians, the Royal Arch was demolished in 1964 and its rubble used to infill the docks to provide space for the landfall of the Tay Road Bridge. Tayside House was built here in 1975 at the cost of £2.5 million as the headquarters of the former Tayside Regional Council, and then taken over by its successor local authority Dundee City Council in 1996. Described variously as an eyesore and the city's most hated building, it was finally demolished 2011-13. During redevelopment the foundations of the Royal Arch were unearthed and marked with granite slabs.

Around the edge of the gardens are a children's play area, a modernist pavilion intended to form a cafe, a log pavilion designed by Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect who created the V&A Dundee and was inspired by a traditional Japanese Kibako (wooden box), together with eleven little themed gardens. The are intended the represent the setting and industries of Dundee together with its local and global connections, and include Americas Garden, Asia Garden, Baltic Garden, Caribbean Garden, Edible Garden, Health Garden, Literature Garden, Reflections Garden, Science Garden, Sensory Garden, and the V&A Dundee Community Garden.

Within the gardens is Discovery Walk, which comprises bronze plaques commemorating individuals who have had influence on the city and the world beyond; namely philanthropist Mary Ann Baxter (1801-84), scientists Prof. Sir James Alfred Ewing (1855 - 1935) and Prof. Sir D'Arcy Thompson (1860 - 1948), reformer Mary Lily Walker (1863 - 1913), author R. D. Low (1895 - 1980), medical scientists Prof. Margaret Fairlie (1891 - 1963) and James F. Riley (1912-85), semi-conductor researchers Walter Spear (1921 - 2008) and Peter Le Comber (1941-92), and toxicologist Prof. Geoffrey Dutton (1924 - 2010).

Camperdown Tunnel passes beneath immediately to the northwest of the gardens.

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