Writing Prompt Story Starter: Custom House


Dundee's old Custom House

A fine old doorway, admittedly looking a little past its best, is today’s Writing Prompt Story Starter image.

It is, as you can see from the gold lettering, the door of Dundee’s old Custom House. Down by the harbour, various property listings describe it as a “unique Grade A listed landmark building”, and “a late Georgian mansion-style building”.

Disused now, it’s also described as “at risk”. Most recently, it was due to be “repurposed” into a boutique hotel to cater for our booming tourist industry. This plan seems to be on hold, or off, and the building remains open to offers.

It sits by the harbour, which used to bustle with whalers, and ships bringing in flax and jute from India for our mills. Inshore shipping worked between the city of Dundee and the port of London.

Now, the harbour is home to an aqua park; the Frigate Unicorn – launched 1824 and the oldest British-built warship still afloat; the North Carr Lightship, launched 1933 and the last remaining Scottish lightship – though like the Custom House she’s in need of some TLC.

There’s a fine hotel, some modern housing in what were the old warehouses, loading sheds and ship chandlers, and a lovely riverside walk.

An emerging theme

So I guess the theme that’s emerging is regeneration, rebirth, repurposing. That there’s always hope. Always room for improvement. That swans come from ugly ducklings.

Or perhaps the theme is past grandeur, lost industries, changing times….

Perhaps the picture makes you think of maritime history, international trading links.

Perhaps the doorway simply makes you think of a grand building with a completely different purpose, like a town hall, a courthouse, a police station, a school, or a city registrar.

So that’s this week’s Writing prompt Story Starter. I’m sure you’re already brimming with ideas so it’s over to you to start jotting them down.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.

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