The story of Newport-on-Tay is almost entirely the story of Dundee, for without the presence of Scotland's fourth city on the far bank of the Tay, there's no particular reason for anything to have developed where Newport now stands.
By the 1700s there was a regular ferry making the crossing of the Tay from Dundee to Woodhaven, roughly where today's Newport-on-Tay and neighbouring Wormit meet, though ferries had plied these waters since the 1100s. The arrangement was further formalised with the building in 1715 of a new pier and inn where Newport stands today. The work was funded by the Guilds of Dundee and they called the resulting settlement "New Dundee". The name didn't stick.
Over the following years Newport-on-Tay, though still very small, became a northern focus for the developing pattern of roads across Fife. In 1823 Thomas Telford built a steamboat pier here and Newport-on-Tay suddenly became the place to live for the wealthy jute barons and other industrialists wanting to escape the pollution they were creating in Dundee. Newport-on-Tay developed a pattern of grand Victorian villas on the hillside overlooking Dundee which remains very characteristic of it today.
The coming of the Tay Rail Bridge in 1878 (and its replacement in 1887) confirmed Newport-on-Tay as a highly desirable suburb of Dundee and the style of the shops and public buildings such as the old ferry terminus reflect the grandeur of the times.
The Tay Road Bridge, which opened in 1966, had contradictory effects on Newport-on-Tay. On the one hand it put the village within a few minutes drive of the centre of Dundee, ensuring its popularity as a commuter base continued to grow. On the other it brought the immediate end of the ferry service across the Tay, and a gradual decline in the commercial fortunes of businesses in the village as they found themselves in direct competition with Dundee's supermarkets and other services.
More recent times have seen a reversal of fortunes, with landmark buildings being restored or renovated. This is not reflected in our photographs on this page: we intend to revisit to update our feature as a matter of urgency.
It is worth keeping a lookout for the remarkable mile-marker embedded in a wall near the old ferry terminus. The photograph on this page shows it before it was given a fresh coat of paint. This was cast by the Alexander Russell Kirkcaldy Foundry in 1824 and was one of a series placed along the length of the "Great Fife Road".
This road linked Pettycur, the terminus for ferries from Edinburgh with Newport-on-Tay, the terminus for ferries to Dundee. New Inn and Cupar, both shown on the sign, were the two staging posts on the road. In those days you knew you'd arrived when the distance to your destination read zero!
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