Royal Arch
Alternative namesVictoria Arch
General information
Height17 metres
Design and construction
Architect(s)James Leslie

The Royal Arch (also referred to as the Victoria Arch) was a structure erected in Dundee, Scotland, between 1849 and 1853 and demolished in 1964. The monumental archway formerly stood over the access to the pier between Earl Grey Dock and King William IV Dock on the city's waterfront.


The arch was built to commemorate a visit to the city by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, in 1844.[1] Victoria and Albert were on a visit to Duke of Atholl and his nephew, Lord Glenlyon. The royal boat landed near a triumphal arch erected for the occasion and the couple returned and embarked for London on 1 October 1844.[2] It was the first visit by a British monarch to Dundee since the 17th century, although Victoria often visited the city during her reign because it was on her route to Balmoral Castle.[3]

Design, construction and demolition

The first arch, designed by harbour engineer James Leslie, was made out of wood. Following a design competition[4] for a more permanent structure, John Thomas Rochead, designer of the Wallace Monument near Stirling, was commissioned to design a permanent sandstone monument to replace the wooden arch. The Royal Arch, commonly known in Dundee as the Victoria Arch, was described as being in the "Anglo-Norman" style and consisted of a large triumphal arch, flanked by two smaller side arches, surmounted by two central turrets. It was situated between King William IV Dock and Earl Grey Dock on the south side of Dock Street, between the junctions of Castle Street, and Whitehall Crescent. The structure was 80 feet (24 m) across. Costing between £2,270 and £3,000, it was mostly funded by public subscription and the harbour trustees.

The arch was demolished on 16 March 1964, as part of land reclamation work required for the construction of the Tay Road Bridge. The structure was dynamited and the rubble deposited in both the King William IV and the Earl Grey Docks. Afterwards, the docks were land-filled to accommodate the slip roads for the new road bridge.


Fragments of the arch were uncovered while the waterfront was being redeveloped in 2010,[5] and its foundations were uncovered in 2014.[6] In 2015, a petition was launched to build a replica of the arch.[7] The Dundee City Council has stated that they "could never have rebuilt something like [the Royal Arch]", but granite paving slabs were put on the site of the arch, and four trees were planted nearby to commemorate the landmark.[8]

The V&A Dundee, which opened in 2018, features an arch as part of the building design which was inspired by the old arch.[9]

Depictions in local culture


  1. ^ Campsie, Alison (8 February 2018). "Would Dundee's lost Royal Arch be demolished today?". The Scotsman.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1851). A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Vol. 1 (2 ed.). S Lewis & Co. p. 329. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  3. ^ "On this day - Dundee's Royal Arch Demolished - DARK DUNDEE". Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Elevation of Victoria Royal Arch for competition. - Canmore".
  5. ^ "Royal Arch fragment rescued from the deep". The Courier. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016.
  6. ^ Argo, Andrew (28 May 2014). "Remnants of a long-lost Dundee landmark uncovered". The Courier. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014.
  7. ^ Rooney, Richard (5 February 2015). "Lost Dundee — history enthusiasts want to bring back the city's famous Royal Arch". The Courier. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  8. ^ "New waterfront pays tribute to Dundee's Royal Arch". The Courier. 16 September 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015.
  9. ^ "V&A Dundee by Kengo Kuma | Museums". Architonic. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Dundee in art & photography". University of Dundee. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Image of the Week Archive Royal Arch, Dundee". University of Dundee. Archived from the original on 1 January 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  12. ^ Miller, Kris (30 May 2016). "In photos: Dundee's cardboard Royal Arch built and destroyed". The Courier. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  13. ^ Sharpe, Gillian (27 May 2016). "Dundee's Royal Arch remade in cardboard". BBC News. BBC Scotland. Retrieved 23 October 2016.