Tayside and Central Scotland

RRS Discovery marks 30 years back home

Image caption RRS Discovery has been a popular tourist attraction since its return in 1986

Thirty years ago today Captain Scott's RRS Discovery returned to Dundee.

Thousands of people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Antarctic exploration vessel, which is now a proud feature of Dundee's expanding waterfront.

RRS Discovery was built in Dundee and launched into the Firth of Tay in 1901.

The ship's jubilant return in April 1986 was seen by many to mark a turnaround in the city's fortunes following years of economic decline.

After 30 years as a research ship, Discovery became a training vessel until 1979, when it narrowly avoided the breaker's yard.

The ship was transported on the cargo ship Happy Mariner from its previous home in London to Dundee and moved to a purpose-built dock in 1992.

Proud heritage

Gill Poulter, from Dundee Heritage Trust, which looks after the ship, said: "Discovery is really important to Dundee's history and heritage.

"Obviously people associate her with Scott of the Antarctic and that British national Antarctic exhibition.

"But for the local people here in Dundee she's a proud reminder of the city's shipbuilding past and whaling heritage.

"Undoubtedly, Discovery was important for regenerating the city and turning perceptions of the city around so it could be seen as a tourist attraction."

Image copyright Pathe
Image caption Discovery braved the elements as a research ship for three decades
Image caption Discovery was transported to Dundee from London on the cargo ship Happy Mariner

Bill Heald, the son of a crewman who served with Captain Scott and who spent two years trapped onboard the ship in the Antarctic ice, was one of those waiting to welcome Discovery home.

Prof Stewart Brymer, one of those involved in the project to bring Discovery back to Dundee, was also there.

He said: "It was a wonderful day. But if we look back on that day, we can see the return of Discovery actually igniting a spirit within the people of Dundee.

"The people got behind Discovery coming back to the city where she was constructed and launched in 1901."

Image copyright Dundee Waterfront
Image caption RRS Discovery will soon sit alongside Dundee's £80.1m V&A museum of design

Giant cranes next to Discovery now compete with the ship's masts on the Dundee skyline.

Its new neighbour, the £80.1m V&A Dundee design museum, is currently under construction and is due to open in summer 2018.

Watching construction work from the deck of Discovery, Prof Brymer said he believed the ship charted a new course for Dundee.

He said: "We can all remember when Discovery sailed back up the river.

"The image that then gave to Dundee, the City of Discovery, has been no mean feat."

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