Streetwise: Somerville Place

Name Plate

The first house in what is now called Somerville Place was built by Charles Carmichael, who founded, with his brother James, the famous engineering firm of James Carmichael & Co., now Ward Foundry. The house was named “Somerville Place” after the wife of Charles Carmichael. The two brothers were natives of Glasgow, their father having been long a Merchant Councillor and Bailie in that city. James Carmichael was born in 1776, and Charles in 1782, but their father died in 1786, and the widow retired with her two sons to her native place at Pentland in Midlothian. James was apprenticed as a mill-wright to Mr. Umpherston, his mother’s brother, and Charles served his apprenticeship to the engineering trade at Loanhead.

The latter came to Dundee in 1805, and started as a mill-wright in partnership with James Taylor, and this business was carried on for five years. At that time Charles induced his brother to join him at Dundee, and founded an engineering business, and this was the beginning of what proved a most successful concern. In 1821 the firm constructed the steam engine for the Newport Ferry Steamer; and in 1832 the brothers built the first steam locomotive for the Dundee and Newtyle Railway. James Carmichael was acknowledged to be the inventor of the Fan Blast, and is commemorated by a statue in Albert Square. Charles Carmichael was a Town Councillor for several years. His death took place in May, 1843. His brother survived him for ten years.

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