Creative Dundee

West Ward Works as home to Dundee Design Festival

We’re pleased to hear that the first Dundee Design Festival will take place in West Ward Works in May this year, the former home of DC Thomson’s annuals in Dundee.

From 25 – 28 May 2016, the former industrial building, one of Dundee’s most important historic centres for magazine and book production, will play host to a range of designers, businesses and design collectives for the Dundee Design Festival.

The festival is a four-day celebration of design, marking the city’s first full year as the UK’s UNESCO City of Design. The festival will showcase design from Dundee, Scotland and internationally, through a large exhibition, talks, demonstrations and workshops.


DC Thomson Director and Chief Operating Officer, David Thomson said, “We’re delighted to be able to work in partnership with the UNESCO City of Design Dundee team to host the first international design festival. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the building whilst also looking forward to the exciting redevelopment of the city.

“Our company is fully supportive of Dundee’s Cultural development, including the V&A Dundee project, and we’re keen to contribute to the development of further arts facilities for the city. We’ve been exploring ideas for the potential revitalisation of our West Ward building as a cultural space and this seemed like an ideal opportunity to try it out! Other former jute mills and industrial spaces have been successfully redeveloped and so we hope that this temporary upgrade for West Ward will help us to understand whether there is an appetite for an arts space at our building in Guthrie Street.”


In 2010, West Ward Works was closed after more than half a century of magazine and book production, this site was home not only to the printing and binding of DC Thomson titles for over 60 years, but also to the transport department, accommodating fleets of cars and lorries in the basement. Titles including Beezer, Twinkle, Black Bob, Sparky, and Topper were all produced at this site. Perhaps the most famous of all are DC Thomson’s annuals, including the famous Christmas stocking-fillers Oor Wullie and The Broons. In the late 1960s and early 1970s more than five million books were being produced each year.

As the major destination for the local, national and international design exhibitions, West Ward will showcase an exciting programme of events during the Festival. Forums, talks and practical workshops led by designers will allow visitors to experience a diversity of design excellence and innovation.

Anna Day, Manager of UNESCO City of Design, Dundee, said, “We are delighted to be working with DC Thomson to bring this building back to life. It’s a hugely important part of the city’s heritage and it will be exciting to welcome people in to see the exhibition which will highlight the best design of the future from Dundee and across Scotland.”

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