Streetwise: Forebank Street

Name Plate

The names of several estates in Dundee and neighbourhood which have now been absorbed in the City are perpetuated by the designations of some of the streets that have been formed on the grounds.

Three of these estates lay to the north of Buckle-maker Wynd, now Victoria Road, and marched with the eastern boundary of Clepington estate.

In Crawford’s map of Dundee in 1777, the mansion and estate of Bonnybank are shown in a succession of cultivated fields with trees, extending from a little east of Hilltown to about the present William Street, the house being on the east side of Bonnybank Road, which was the avenue from Bucklemaker Wynd. The estate near the east was Forebank , the house being near Nelson Street, though the name is given to Forebank Road which is west of Bonnybank Road. The northern boundary of these two estates is marked on Crawford’s Map as “Road to Hillbank,” and this plainly was the course of the present Ann Street. Hillbank House is drawn on this map, occupying an eminence near existing Cotton Road, and showing a decorative approach to the mansion, with curved lines of flowers and bushes leading up to the doorway.

The estate of Hillbank has belonged to the Wyse family (now spelled Wise) for nearly two centuries. Alexander Wyse purchased the estate of Lunan in 1734. His eldest son David Wyse, was an ingenious mechanician, erected a machine for spinning cotton, and built a manufactory for cotton-spinning at Dundee, near what is now called Cotton Road, and died in 1803. His eldest son, Thomas Wyse, was a physician, and went in that capacity to Jamaica, where he acquired a large fortune. Returning to Dundee, he bought the estate of Hillbank, near his father’s cotton-spinning mill, married the daughter of William Chalmers of Glenericht, who was for a long tome Town Clerk of Dundee; and died in 1816. The northward portion of Cotton Road is still named Hillbank Road, and when part of the estate was feued, in 1819, it was arranged that the street running north from Ann Street should be called Jamaica Street in memory of the early life of the deceased proprietor. The territorial title of “Wise of Hillbank” still survives.

Regarding Forebank estate, it is worth noting that in 1803 an advertisement appeared in the “Dundee Advertiser” stating that “summer lodgings” could be obtained at a farm there. Still more wonderful is the following announcement in that newspaper, dated 21st December, 1821:

“A field of ripe barley, sown in the month of August, was cut down yesterday at Forebank in this neighbourhood. Two crops in one year”.

This seems almost like an agricultural phenomenon; and shearing in December is not usual. The fields of Forebank are now covered with houses; but some of the old trees of 150 years ago are still flourishing.

Source: ‘Glimpses of Old and New Dundee’ – A.H. Millar, January 1925