The COX Family - in Angus and Perthshire

5 Jul 1808 at Lochiefield
James Cock 1776-1848
Helen Scott 1787-1824
David, William, Robert, Henry, Thomas, George, Edward
Jean 1806, Helen 1824
18 Aug 1834 in Dundee
Clementina Carmichael 1811-1888
James (1835), William, Charles, Edward, James (1853)
Grace, Ellen, Clementina, Beatrice, Adeline
1 Dec 1885 at Clement Park

The period from 1858 to 1885 was a time of constant and rapid growth at the Camperdown Works. Not only did the Cox Brothers massively increase the volume of production, but they also kept adding to the number of processes carried out in-house, until it became the only factory in the district where raw jute was delivered in and converted entirely within the works into finished products.

Among the most notable constructions were the 430-foot High Mill built in 1859 with a bell tower in the style of an Italian campanile, and the branch railway line which opened in 1861, running from Lochee Station directly into the works. The High Mill is now an A-listed building and has been converted into flats, whilst evidence of the railway line can still be seen in the Wellbank bridge which although unused is still intact, passing over Wellbank Lane at the point where the railway line entered the Works.

Probably the most spectacular edifice is the 282-foot chimney, now known as Cox's Stack, which was erected to replace three existing chimneys. It was completed in 1866, built from one million red and white bricks. Like the High Mill, it has been an A-listed building since 1965 and is a well-known landmark that can be seen from up to 60 miles away.

James Cox gives a year-by-year account in his journal of the massive expansion at Camperdown. By 1885 it had grown into the largest jute factory in the world. A very comprehensive description of the works was given in the 'Royal Album of Arts and Industries of Great Britain', published by Wyman and Sons in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

The High Mill

Map of the Camperdown Branch Railway Line
From the Plan of Dundee in the 1912
Bartholomew Survey Atlas of Scotland.
The location of the Wellbank Bridge is highlighted.

Cox's Stack

The Top of Cox's Stack

Painting of Camperdown Works in 1861
Note the three separate chimneys,
later replaced by Cox's Stack.

Camperdown Works in 2009

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The High Mill

1858. This year opened with great work before us, the building and filling with machinery of the large new spinning mill. Hitherto we had only the old spinning works in the corner of the property which we bought from K & HKinmond and Hill and as we required so much more yarn than was processed by it, yet we considered it a very serious undertaking, but being about thirty yearsFurther evidence that James wrote much of his journal during his retirement younger then than now, considered we had energy for almost anything.

One thing I must mention, that we made it a rule which was adhered to very strictly, that we should never on any account whatever, begin any work without having money to finish and carry it on, and no doubt this is the main cause of our success, coupled with that energy, perseverence and thrifty saving habits which is in this stage of the world so necessary to cultivate.

Before beginning to build, large excavations had to be done as the ground sloped so much to the south. The elevation was five floors and on the northeast corner a high tower, containing a chiming clock and bells, for the benefit of the villagers in general and the workers in particular.

SOURCE: The James Cox Journal

The Camperdown Branch Railway

The daily traffic to and from the works consisting of coal, jute, lime and sand, bricks and stones and manufactured materials was such that we began to think of the economy of dispensing with horses, and make a branch line railway from the works to the Caledonian Railway Station, now that that railway had changed the route of the line from the tunnel through their land to round by Lochie and near past us. Thus we approached the Directors and amicably arranged for a siding, which we made at our own expense, with a station, within the gates of the works. This we accomplished within the year.

It is an old Scotch proverb that one thing leads to another, and this proved very true with us, for the operations at one place required something to be done at another. We again found ourselves with all these additions, short of cooling space, and after selecting a convenient place, commenced operations which we completed also by the end of the year.

We were now forced to think of warehouses for the storage of jute or raw material. Hitherto we built the surplus stock outside like hay and thatched it with straw or broom, but found it not so good. We therefore selected the ground on either side of the railway siding and built the first warehouses there.

SOURCE: Royal Album of Arts and Industries (1887)

General Construction of the Works

The whole premises cover an area of twenty-eight35 acres at its peak acres, and are built in a most substantial manner of blocks of hewn squared freestones, quarried on the property and the immediate neighbourhood. The arrangement of the works is so skilfully contrived that the various processes regularly succeed each other without the least obstruction, loss of time, or unnecessary labour. Every precaution is taken against fire, and the ventilating and other sanitary appliances are of the most scientific and modern description.

The works are entered by a branch line off the Caledonian Railway, whose wagons convey the jute, coal and other materials to their immediate destinations. The coals are tipped from the railway wagons beside the furnaces, which are connected with the thirty-six two-flued boilers of the works. The steam is conveyed by mains thickly coated with non-conducting material, passing along, well buried under the streets or avenues, to the engines which are in separate parts of the works and aggregate over 4,000 indicated horse-power.

The consumption of fuel, even with all modern improvements, is 90 tons a day, and all this expenditure of force demands the guidance and co-operation of an army of 5,000 employees. Although smoke is consumed as far as yet possible, the residue and noxious gases are carried off by a highly ornamental chimney-stalk, 300 ft.In fact 282 feet high, plus foundations 20 feet deep high, built of red and white brick and stone, which cost £6,000.

SOURCE: Royal Album of Arts and Industries (1887)


A reference to the illustrationsee Drawing of the Camperdown Works in 1885 (shown on the right) will show the lofty, spacious, and well-lighted buildings in which these operations are carried on. The spinning mills contain over 20,000 spindles and the weaving sheds 1,000 power looms, ranging from 30 in. to 120 in. wide. About 120,000 bales of Jute, of 400 lb. each, are annually used, which is one-eighth of the consumption of the town of Dundee, and about one-fourteenth of the total imported into Great Britain, which includes much that finds its way to the Continent.

Besides large quantities of every size of yarn sold to the trade, the length of cloth annually produced is from 30,000,000 to 40,000,000 yards. Even a partial enumeration of the woven products of Jute manufactured at these works will show how widely the fibre is made to enter into the commercial, agricultural, social, and even personal life of the world.

There is the universal packing material called Hessian, sacking, bagging, tarpaulins for wagons and rick covers, shop twines, cords, ropes, harvesting and trussing twines, potato-sacks, grain-sacks, flour-sacks, hop-pocketing, biscuit and salt bags, sugar-bags, cement-bags, horse-blanketing, camp-stooling, wool-packs for the Colonies, mattress cloth or bed-ticks, furniture cloth, embroidery cloth, cloth which laid under an ordinary carpet, gives it the soft elastric tread of the richest Turkey carpet. Matting, hearth-rugs, stair-runners, curtains, crumb-cloths, table-covers, bed-covers, towels, tailors padding, tan canvas for school-bags, trunk covers, and many others too numerous for detail.

The Firm's yarns and cloth are highly esteemed for good quality, regularity and excellence of manufacture and finish, as well as smartness and neatness of make-up. This can be readily understood when it is known that, with the exception of the engines and boilers, and calenders, most of the machinery, implements and appliances are made on the premises, and include the numerous inventions which have been patented by members of the firm. Careful selection and division of the different qualities of the raw material, and minute oversight of all the processes, leave nothing wanting to secure such a result.

SOURCE: Royal Album of Arts and Industries (1887)


An establishment of this kind could not be maintained without the assistance of all the trades and accordingly, the works are flanked by well-equipped foundries, engineers, mechanics, carpenters, joiners, plumbers, gas-fitters, tinsmiths, grinders, painters, and glaziers. Shuttle, bobbin and reed makers abound. Large portions of the buildings were erected by the resident staff of masons.

All the malleable iron required is produced in the large smithy, which contains eighteen forges and steam-hammers. Here the thirty work-horses are shod, and fed on the produce of a conveniently-situated farm leased by the Firm.

An excellent feature is a large dining-hall, heated by steam-pipes and fitted with a stove and other conveniences for the workers, while 500 children who work half-time, receive a free education in a building specially erected for the purpose, from an efficient staff of male and female teachers under Government inspection.