October 1988

Ocean Odyssey’s Arrival Watched by Thousands

The giant North Sea drilling rig Ocean Odyssey finally took up temporary residence in the River Tay off Dundee yesterday. For several hours, while being manoeuvred into position, the 400-foot-high structure captured the interest of thousands of spectators who lined the shores in Tayside and Fife.

Once moored off the Davy GVA deep water wharf, the rig dwarfed all in its midst in the harbour and Craigiebank areas of the city.

Crippled by a fire two weeks ago which claimed the life f its radio operator, the Ocean Odyssey commenced her slow journey from her previous berthing between Arbroath and Montrose at first light.

By 11 a.m. the rig – heading for vital repairs at the Davy GVA Yard – was inching past Monifieth at a steady two knots with three anchor handling supply vessels completing the stately procession upriver in fine weather.

From Broughty Castle – which looked like a doll’s house next to it – to Dundee Harbour, the tricky operation of manoeuvring the rig in the confined space of the navigation channel and finally alongside the Davy GVA deep water wharf had to be taken even more slowly and carefully.

The six-legged, semi-submersible rig is some 400 feet in length and also 400 feet from the water surface to the tip of deck derrick – almost twice the height of Tayside House.

Waiting to go on board were officials from the Department of Energy, representatives from the rig’s insurers and teams of specialist engineers to ascertain the magnitude of blaze damage. Work will soon start to make the crippled rig seaworthy.

Davy GVA – the British- Swedish joint venture company which last year took over lease of former Kestrel Marine base – have obtained a contract for short-term repair of Ocean Odyssey. Once this is completed it could be moved to a specialist yard at any one of a number of locations – even as far afield as Korea – for a total refit.

For Davy GVA yesterday’s exercise and subsequent repairs will represent a good test of the company’s capabilities in Dundee.

They are front-runners in the race to win a multi-million pound contract to covert another semi-submersible rig, the Ali Baba, to a production platform as part of the development of the Emerald Field in the North Sea.

This contract is expected to be awarded next month by the rig’s owners Jebsens.

Davy GVA would also be keen to be considered for the full repair contract on Ocean Odyssey. This could be done in tandem with the Ali Baba conversion and would mean well over 1000 jobs at the base.

A spokesman for the Dundee Harbourmaster appealed to the public to avoid the harbour area as essential services will be requiring constant access.

Asda Puts Forward a Retail Park Proposal

Dundee could benefit from two major developments in the city – one east, and the other west – providing individual planning applications submitted to the district council are approved.

Supermarket giant Asda want to build a retail park with restaurant and ancillary car parking and service area on the site of the former Timex factory in Milton of Craigie Road, off Kingsway East, and has now submitted a full application for the Craigiebank project.

The second application is to change the use of historic but derelict mansion House of Gray at Invergowrie, on the city’s western perimeter, into a luxury hotel.

It comes from a Mr A. McInnes of Tayside Purchasing Ltd, 205, Brook Street, Dundee. In the summer, Leeds-based  Asda was reported to be about to go ahead with a 14,000 square metre sales outlet, comprising foodstore/warehouse/garden centre, with parking for 1240 vehicles, at the former Timex factory – for which outline plans were approved in May.

It is still not clear how the new development would affect Asda’s existing superstore in Derwent Avenue, Kirkton.

After Timex vacated the 12-acre site two years ago, the Scottish Development Agency announced a scheme to transform the property into a retail park, creating upto 100 jobs.

In September, in preparation for the Asda development members of the district planning and development committee approved a stopping up order at Milton of Craigie Road.

It was explained by Asda’s agents that the existing road crossed the site of the new development and, although it would continue to be an access road, it was necessary to close it as a public highway.

The ambitious facelift and new lease of life for House of Gray, an 18th century mansion designed by William Adam, would involve a multi-million pound refurbishment.

A group of private individuals plan to re-establish the house as a top quality restaurant with four or five bedrooms.

The mansion’s ground floor would be renovated into a restaurant, with the first floor housing the bedrooms.

The group also has plans to build a 30-bedroom extension to the existing building, complete with leisure and conference facilities.

Recently, a spokesman for the developing group, call House of Gray (Dundee) Ltd, said its purpose was not purely commercial.

The primary reason was to secure the future of House of Gray. In the past few years, several attempts to restore the building have met with failure, mostly due to lack of funding. He added that the application for financial aid has been submitted to the Historic Buildings Council, and talks were being held between House of Gray Ltd, the Dundee Project and the S.D.A.

First Tay Seal Dies of Virus

The distemper virus that has decimated the seal population of the North Sea and the Baltic has claimed its first victim in the Tay estuary.

Yesterday the Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals confirmed a common seal had been found dead on the beach near Broughty Castle.

The discovery sparked fears that the virus is about to sweep through the large seal colony which spends much of the year in the waters of Tay and surrounding coast.

Mrs Mary Ward, leader of the administration on Dundee District Council, was distressed to hear the virus had reached the river.

She stressed that any dead seals found on the district’s beaches should be “left well alone” by the public.

“Although the disease is not transmitted to humans, dog owners should make sure their pets, whether vaccinated against distemper or not, do not come into contact with any washed up seals” she said..

She added that anyone finding dead seals should call the parks department who would arrange for the carcase to be removed. Sightings of live seals which appear to be infected should also be reported to the S.S.P.C.A.

The parks and environmental health departments will forward any information from the public to the Sea Mammal Research Unit which is collecting material on the virus.

“We urge the public to support the S.S.P.C.A. and other bodies in their efforts to understand why the seals are unable to resist the viral infection and to find a way to slow the epidemic or put a stop to it altogether,” added Mrs Ward.

Another Win for Winnie

Dancing Dundee housewife Mrs Winnie Marnie (38) is continuing to take the Scottish disco world by storm. She notched up yet another championship competition in Glasgow at the weekend.

Mrs Marnie, form Ardler, gave up dancing after the birth of her three children – Alan, Sharon and Kevin. She started taking classes again about five years ago and has gone from strength to strength, winning four major championships and a host of trophies.

Ambitious Bid to Help Disabled

Dundee and District Disabled Association hope to secure premises soon so that their club, offering a range of facilities to the disabled of all ages, can get under way.

Association president Mr Douglas Adams said yesterday, “We hope to hear any day now.

“We will be taking over from community centres which are being closed down and are aiming at all ages, OAP’s, the disabled and handicapped. One of our areas is to set up a small business where wheelchairs and clothes are supplied. Quite a number of community centres did meals for OAP’s and the disabled and we hope to carry that on, while also starting some training sessions.”

Mr Adams said the association had been born out of a group set up in 1947 for war veterans and the last time they had their own premises was in 1968 in Harrison Road.

Since then, meetings have been held at Mr Adam’s Kirkton home.

The association plans to cater for people not only in Dundee but also Fife and Tayside, who can become members for £5 a year or £2.50 for unemployed.

“We are applying for a certificate so we can operate as a charity and run various functions” said Mr Adams.

So far the association has had a good response from potential members, but would still like to hear from more.

“There are quite a number of disabled young people who want to get out and we hope they will get in touch,” added Mr Adams.

“One area we will be looking at is getting insurance for disabled people, and we hope to set up a company to insure members”.

He said they hoped to operate five days a week at least.

Anyone interested in finding out about the association should contact Mr Adams on Dundee 813201.

'Dundee Welcomes Japan' Workshop

The first of two workshops got under way at McManus Galleries, Dundee, yesterday with all 20 places filled by enthusiastic 10-14 year olds anxious to be initiated into the art of Japanese kite-making.

Kite-maker and community artist Kay Henderson, from County Durham, is running both two-day workshops – the second starting tomorrow – during each of which she hopes to introduce the youngsters to six different kinds of traditional Japanese kites.

The workshops are complementary to the exhibition of kites on show in the McManus Galleries as part of the “Dundee Welcomes Japan” festival.

“Japanese kites are made from bamboo and paper but we don’t really have the climate to use those materials and, even is we could get hold of good-quality Japanese paper, it would be very expensive” said Kay.

“The materials we are going to use are things which are easily available and include polythene, dowel and fibreglass”.

The budding kite-makers will have a chance to see their creations in action at Camperdown Park on Friday, weather permitting, when Kay will also fly some of the traditional style kites she has made.

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Opportunities for the Over 50s

From Monday, the Wellgate Centre library and clock foyer in Dundee will be buzzing with all kinds of demonstrations of sports and hobbies and people providing advice of activities geared at those in the “older” age groups.

Called “50+ The Age of Opportunity” the event is a first for Tayside, organised by the regional council’s community education service.

And it is aiming to dispel the myths that retirement is the “beginning of the end”.

“It is entirely the opposite” pleads Alison Elphinstone, the event’s organiser.

“We’re determined to promote the image of an active, happy time for the over 50’s particularly after retirement.”

“People seem to be conditioned into seeing retirement as dull and boring and this couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“It can be a very positive period when people have the time to do thing’s they’ve always wanted to do and try new interests and activities”.

“Some people are very fit and active, following physical pursuits such as hillwalking, swimming, cycling, dancing and even skiing instructing. Others prefer stimulation and enjoy less hectic interests but the bottom line is that there is plenty available for everyone and if you’re 50 or over, then now is the time to be planning for the rest of your life”.

While the main exhibition is focusing on events in Dundee, there are “fringe” activities taking place in Arbroath during the week and it’s hoped to follow up with an event in Perth late.

The activities in the Wellgate range from oil painting and floral art demonstrations, to carpet bowls, singing, pottery demonstrations and an introduction to Tai Chi, a Chinese-based slow movement exercise with enormous appeal for those not able to do heavy physical workouts.

The Scottish Arts Council are also sponsoring a drama production, “Living Memory Theatre” and a special showing of the popular film “The Quiet Man” will be given, free of charge in the Steps Theatre.

A general information exhibition about the week’s activities and on the many opportunities available to the over 50s will be based at the Wellgate Library from October 10-14, along with personal profiles of a number of older people who have proved that being over 50 is the beginning of an important part of their lives.