Report - - Harbour Chambers and Custom House, Dundee - December 2017 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Harbour Chambers and Custom House, Dundee - December 2017

Exploring with Andy

Behind Closed Doors
Staff member
Harbour Chambers and Custom House is a unique Grade A listed landmark building located in the heart of the waterfront between City Quay and the Central Waterfront zones. Formerly the Dundee Port Authority headquarters, this late Georgian mansion style building has recently been purchased by Apex Hotels who own the adjacent Apex City Quay Hotel.

Construction to the plans of architects John Taylor and James Leslie commenced in 1842 and took around one year. An extension was added to the rear in 1884 including ground floor level vaults.

The building, one of the largest port authority headquarters in the country, is a reminder of the importance of the city as a sea-port in the 19th century and the wealth of the trade passing though the harbour.

@darbians and I spotted the building whilst driving through Dundee from another location last year, and headed back across the bridge to check it out. We didn't get in that day, but it was added to the list of buildings to return to. During a recent trip to Scotland with @The Amateur Wanderer we made a last minute decision to head over to Dundee for a better look, and had a bit more success this time.

Custom House has been completely stripped out, and unfortunately not much of interest remains inside. Harbour Chambers, on the other hand, although empty of furniture still contains many of the original features and 1940s embellishments which proved to be quite interesting. The attic was a real treasure trove of history, with may documents dating back to the 1940s and 50s, showing the comings and goings of ships and their cargo, staff wages, purchases, etc. There were even some records and newspaper clippings from World War II.

Custom House

Sadly completely stripped out, just a staircase and some empty rooms really...

Harbour Chambers

What better place to start than at the front door...

The entrance lobby had seen better days

The building's side entrance looked a bit better

There wasn't much more to see on the ground floor, so we'll start to head upstairs...

The first floor featured some nice tiles

And some nice old brass signs

The Harbour Clerk's office featured Dundee Port Authority carpet!

From the Harbour Clerk's office these doors lead into a grand boardroom

The boardroom

Crest of the Dundee Port Authority carved into the fireplace
The clock says "Ritchie & Sons, Edinburgh. 1884"

Let's take that old lift up to the next floor then.....

Date of installation: 1949

The lift machinery

The Harbourmaster's Office with some retro light fittings

One of the many offices on the third floor

Cooker in the staff canteen. Imagine how many eggs would have been boiled on that!

41 sex change operations on the NHS - that's surprising for a newspaper dated 1969


Exploring with Andy

Behind Closed Doors
Staff member
1842 Extension

One of the rooms in the extension

Another carving on a fireplace

The vaults

The Attic

Heading up into the attic, we find documents dating back to the 1940s

Old telephone and a Port of Dundee Official Handbook from 1952

Wages records

Pilotage day book, 1972

Tay Ferries wages record, 1948

A pile of ticket machines at the end of the attic

Ultimatic ticket machine

Newspaper cutting of various war updates, dated 10 May 1945

Harbour Chambers to the left, and Customs House central to right.

Harbour Chambers, scanned from the 1952 Port of Dundee Official Handbook​


( . Y . )
Regular User
Gandy delivering the goods as ever. Glad to see you're focusing on old signs and paraphernalia rather than perfectly symmetrical HDR shots of staircases. Mwah xxx

Baggy trousers

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
That's absolutely gorgeous that! That attic is a right treasure trove. Wonder what those ticket machines were used for, possibly off the ferries?
Brilliant report that chap :)


Super Moderator
Regular User
Amazing... like explores used to be! That is something really special, and you have captured it well!

William Muir

28DL Full Member
i take this was a permision visit from the keyholder? i always go passed this wonderful building
beautiful exterior i never known some of the oldest items are still inside i bet those ticket machines could make a quick buck if the council sold them to the museum when its complete

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