Harbour Chambers and Custom House, Dundee, Scotland

Harbour Chambers and Custom House, Dundee

Harbour Chambers and Custom House were the headquarters of the Dundee Port Authority. The Grade A listed building is now disused.

Visited December 2017 Dundee, Scotland, UK

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.

Custom House and Harbour Chambers frontage on Dock Street, Dundee
Custom House and Harbour Chambers frontage on Dock Street, Dundee

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.

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…

The entrance to Custom House
The entrance to Custom House
Custom House Doorway
Custom House Doorway
 
Custom House Staircase
Custom House Staircase
One of the stripped out rooms in Custom House
One of the stripped out rooms in Custom House

 

Harbour Chambers

Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Lettering above front entrance
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Lettering above front entrance
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Behind the closed door
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Behind the closed door
 
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Revolving Door
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Revolving Door
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The entrance lobby had seen better days
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The entrance lobby had seen better days
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The building's side entrance looked a bit better
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The building’s side entrance looked a bit better
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The first floor featured some nice tiles
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The first floor featured some nice tiles
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - And some nice old brass signs
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – And some nice old brass signs
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The Harbour Clerk's office featured Dundee Port Authority carpet!
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The Harbour Clerk’s office featured Dundee Port Authority carpet!
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - From the Harbour Clerk's office these doors lead into a grand boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – From the Harbour Clerk’s office these doors lead into a grand boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The boardroom
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Crest of the Dundee Port Authority carved into the fireplace The clock says "Ritchie & Sons, Edinburgh. 1884"
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Crest of the Dundee Port Authority carved into the fireplace. The clock says “Ritchie & Sons, Edinburgh. 1884”
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The fireplace
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The fireplace

 

Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Old sign on the old lift
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Old sign on the old lift
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Lift machinery
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Lift machinery
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Date of installation: 1949
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Date of installation: 1949
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The Harbourmaster's Office with some retro light fittings
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The Harbourmaster’s Office with some retro light fittings
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - One of the many offices on the third floor
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – One of the many offices on the third floor
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Cooker in the staff canteen
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Cooker in the staff canteen
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - 41 sex change operations on the NHS - that's surprising for a newspaper dated 1969
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – 41 sex change operations on the NHS – that’s surprising for a newspaper dated 1969

1842 Extension

Harbour Chambers, Dundee - One of the rooms in the extension
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – One of the rooms in the extension
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Port Authority logo carving on a fireplace
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Port Authority logo carving on a fireplace
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - The vaults
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – The vaults
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Ratner makers plate emblem
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Ratner makers plate emblem
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Ratner plaque inside vault
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Ratner plaque inside vault

The Attic

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

Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Shelves of paperwork in the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Shelves of paperwork in the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Shelves of paperwork in the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Shelves of paperwork in the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Old telephone and a Port of Dundee Official Handbook from 1952
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Old telephone and a Port of Dundee Official Handbook from 1952
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Wages records
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Wages records
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Pilotage day book, 1972
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Pilotage day book, 1972
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Tay Ferries wages record, 1948
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Tay Ferries wages record, 1948
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - A pile of ticket machines at the end of the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – A pile of ticket machines at the end of the attic
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Ultimatic ticket machine
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Ultimatic ticket machine
Harbour Chambers, Dundee - Newspaper cutting of various war updates, dated 10 May 1945
Harbour Chambers, Dundee – Newspaper cutting of various war updates, dated 10 May 1945
Harbour Chambers to the left, and Customs House central to right.
Harbour Chambers to the left, and Customs House central to right.
Harbour Chambers, scanned from the 1952 Port of Dundee Official Handbook​
Harbour Chambers, scanned from the 1952 Port of Dundee Official Handbook​

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