Made in Dundee

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    29 Nov 2018
    Clock 60min      Length2mi
    3 ratings

    Reform Street

    Pay wave

    Turn left and walk down this street.

    There is a small display in the McManus Museum about Caird. It describes him as an 'enigma', adding 'little is known of the man himself.' But what little we do know of one of the richest men in Britain is enough to hint at an unusual personality.

    Soon you should see in front of you the striking Caird Hall, named of course for Sir James Key Caird. It is Dundee's town hall and has played host to many famous names, including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and David Bowie.

    James Caird gave £100,000 for the creation of this hall. He was a noted philanthropist and donated money to numerous causes both in Dundee and further afield during his lifetime, such as London Zoo and Dundee's first cancer hospital.

    His generosity was continued after his death by his half-sister, Emma Marryat. Together their donations totalled £1 million - the equivalent of £75m in today's money.

    Sir James was not the only industrialist to give money to Dundee. Other manufacturers funded the original Tay Bridge, Britain's only municipal observatory and the Albert Institution, later to become the McManus Museum.

    How did Caird have all this money to give away? He was one of a small group of men who became very wealthy from the Dundee jute mills. Many of these 'jute barons' did not live in the centre of Dundee where the industry was but in a suburb called Broughty Ferry. Broughty Ferry was known as the 'richest square mile in Europe' because of the wealth of those living there.

    Caird took over the family business in 1870. He rebuilt, expanded and took over other factories until he had 2,000 employees.