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Everyday Architecture


The Wellgate was Dundee’s main shopping mall from 1978 until around the 2000’s, when the re-built Overgate opened. The Wellgate has many features inside and out that all Dundonians will remember and love. Opening in April 1978, this building was designed by James Parr & Partners at the cost of £7 million, which would be over £40 million today. 

The mall took the name Wellgate from the thoroughfare that it replaced. From the back entrance to the front of the Wellgate, is the same flow of foot traffic from before it opened, so people could walk their usual route but pop into the shops and library on their way.

The ‘gate’ in Wellgate comes from the old Norse word ‘gata’ meaning road or street and has the same origins as the word gait meaning ‘to walk’. The street was referred to as ‘Wellgate’ because it led to a well at the foot of the Hilltown. Gate and gait can often be found in historic and modern street names, normally meaning the same thing and along with the Wellgate, Dundee’s compact city centre retains several streets with this characteristic: Cowgate, Marketgait, Murraygate, Nethergate, Overgate and Seagate. 

The chiming nursery clock is an iconic memory for many. If you’re from Dundee, you will no doubt be familiar with the Wellgate Clock. If not, go check it out at the strike of 12 noon to see it come alive. The clock was assembled by Suffolk clockmakers Haward Horological Ltd and installed in 1978, it often served as a meeting place for Dundonians, as well as a handy way of telling the time!

Research by Stephanie Crowe
Words by Poppy Jarratt
Illustration by Dana Ulama