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Nov 2019

Dundee Coat of Arms

So, it's a suburb of Dundee, really, but Broughty used to be its own Burgh, whatever that means exactly, until it was invaded, sorry incorporated, in 1913.

The locals can still, quite rightly, get a bit tutty about that but it's all the fault of Broughty's beach. Wealthy, Dundonian industrialists, their money made from jute and jam, started taking to 'taking the waters' and then when the railway came, well, welcome to Dundee-on-Sea.

  Bob Servant (Independent)

Not quite the butt-of-a-joke kind of place as first suspected, that's all the fault of Bob Servant. The fictional, Broughty busybody and cheeseburger tycoon is the work of local writer  Neil Forsyth.

Servant developed from a pedantic, email responder to a fully formed character, played with the appropriate pomposity by another famed local,  Brian Cox, not  that one.

Shamefully hidden on BBC4, it fared much better on BBC Scotland as it did in this household as well as another of Cox's more recent appearances in the, quite simply, sublime  Succession.

Hotter than the South of France[1], this might technically be on an estuary but it's home to at least one seal, not shown, who might cock a flipper at your arrival. Once home to just a handful of humble fishing folk, the whole harbourside has since developed but there's no sign of a ferry from this bruach of the Tay.

Boats, of sorts, had for centuries made their way across the estuary, of course, providing access to Fife's fruit and veg but it wasn't until the industry arrived that 'Ferry' was appended.

Not just any old ferry but a goods train ferry, no less, with tracks on a turntable even though the 'floating railway' was fairly short-lived.

Not for no great disaster, as first suspected, the engineer Thomas Bouch's next project would simply be the Tay Rail Bridge so the ferry's income tumbled not too long before that train did.

[1] Not as a rule, just one unusually, unseasonable day in May.

Places on easily accessible bodies of water with convenient landing facilities often require some form of protection. While the Napoleonic Martello Towers never made it this far north, there was already a ready-made lookout for 'Little Boney' at Broughty Castle.

Some work was required on the 1490 original, various ding-dongs with the English, including a sacking by Cromwell, had led to the inevitable state of disrepair.

It's run by  Historic Environment Scotland, these days, and they'll let you up and inside for free. Not unreasonably, reasonable views from up there, not shown, and one of the most informative guides this pair have had the pleasure to meet.

The replica model of the goods train turntable is discussed in depth before the topic turns, naturally, to the Tay Bridge disaster. It's not quite remembered if the words 'conspiracy' or 'cover-up' were used but 'scapecoat' definitely was and it can only be assumed he's a direct descendent of Bouch given his vigorous vindication.

Either way, he's delighted this pair are big fans of Broughty and are off now to contribute to the local economy but undoubtedly disappointed that this pithy passage is the extent of the promised publicity.

Wetter than Manchester but no, the weather hasn't taken a sudden, terrible downturn. Two visits here, you see, and the first, a quick pit stop, warranted a second inspection some six months later.

Broughty's grid layout hints at the Victorian recency as do the streets that lead away from the water.

Brook and Gray Streets whiff strongly of independents and the affluent, suburban bustle confirms the convenient rhyme with 'haughty'.

That's likely to be true for those that live in the big houses up the hill, that is.

  Visocchi's Café (Gray Street)

Family run since 1954 although the family name doesn't appear to be Visocchi? It's not all about the Gelati, sit-down pizza and pasta and a small deli for all the stuff you can't get in Tesco™s. They also sell the best coffee in Dundee, scratch that Scotland, scratch that the UK, scratch that the world!

With daylight dimming, it's time to head back to the board and lodgings but not by the Broughty bus that brought you here. No, this time by train from, get this, Scotland's oldest, still-operating station, they say.

It's only one stop to Dundee, these days, so a taxi is an option and there's one ready and running back on Brook Street. The personalised number plate displays some obvious pride in his parish and has given this vanity-driven individual an idea.

How much for GE06 UFF?

That, however, will never be known. It looks like some other Guffer has already  snapped it up!