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Thursday, 4 April 2013

A=Z Challenge: D is for Durham and Dundee's Desperate Dan

In this new A-Z Challenge, my theme is A SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:

  • Featuring places connected with my own family history.
  • Highlighting places with happy memories.
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal.
  • Linking my interests in history, travel and photography.

Join in me on this A-Z Journey

 D s for:

DURHAM - My husband went to Durham University and this is where we got engaged.  He popped the question at this spot looking across the River Wear to the Cathedral.   Built in 1093 and completed 40 years later, the cathedral is the burial place of St. Cuthbert and one of the finest examples of Norman architecture, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

DUNDEE -  "jam, jute and journalism" are often quoted as the words depicting Dundee, Scotland's fourth largest city, situated on the River Tay.

But it is also the home of "Desperate Dan",  "RRS Discovery" and a notable Disaster.

Desperate Dan made his first appearance in 1937 in the  children's comic  "Dandy", created by  local publisher D. C. Thomson.     The lantern-jawed hero is   apparently the world's strongest man, whose favourite food is cow pie – a type of enormous meat pie with the horns sticking out.  Desperate Dan draws his immense power from eating these pies. He was voted the UK's second favourite superhero after Batman in 2011.

His 8 foot high bronze statue in Dundee City Centre was unveiled in 2001 and shows Dan striding out with his faithful pet Dawg in tow.

"Discovery" was the last 3 masted ship to be built in Britain in Dundee in 1901,  it was taken on two expeditions to the Antarctic by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The second expedition saw a party of five reaching the South Pole in 1912 only to find that Norwegian explorer had preceded them. Scott and his four comrades all perished on the return journey.
RRS Discovery’ later went into service   with the Hudson Bay Company,  and during the First World War ran munitions to Russia.  It was to make two further voyages to Antarctica before being laid up in London. In 1986 she made her triumphant return to Dundee and her final berth.

Disaster sTruck Dundee on 28 December 1879 when the two year old Tay Rail Bridge (2.75 mile long) collapsed during a storm,  while a train was passing over.  Not only was the train in the river, but so were the high girders.  Over 70 people were thought to have perished with no surviiors.

William Mcconagall, widely regarded as the worst poet in history,  wrote:
"Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remember'd for a very long time."
Join me on the next stage of my A-Z Journey as we look at E. 
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. What a beautiful and memorable place to get engaged. I love the old architecture. Australia is so young (and boring) in comparison.

  2. WOW what a scene for the proposal. Loved the tour, one day I would love to tour Scotland, it's on my list. I'm your newest follower.

  3. In the USA a cow pie is cow droppings. I was surprised to hear the hero above enjoyed eating them until I saw they were not what I was thinking.

  4. Just shows the hazards of international language meanings ;-) Durham Uni looks just gorgeous and such a pretty place to get engaged...happy memories.

  5. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and comment - much appreciated.


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