Streetwise: Kinnaird Hall

Name Plate

Did you know that the Kinnaird Hall, now known as the Kinnaird Picture House, was started as a corn exchange?

It was in 1853 that prominent citizens, including the then Lord Kinnaird and the late Rev George Gilfillan, conceived the idea of having a large hall for a corn exchange and public meetings. It was not until three years later that any definite step was taken. Two schemes came into view at the same time – one for a public hall and the other for a corn exchange.

An attempt was made to combine the two proposals, but they were kept separate. The site most favoured for the public hall was the Meadows, near where the Albert Institute now stands. The fatal objection to this site was the cost. For the corn exchange Lord Kinnaird offered a piece of ground in Bank Street.

In March 1856 the committee that was appointed reported that the subscriptions promised were totally inadequate to purchase the Meadows ground, and the idea had to be abandoned. The corn exchange movement, on the other hand, seemed to “go” from the first.

By the summer of 1858 the corn exchange was so far completed that a concert was given in it. On 11th November of that year it was completed, and brilliant functions were held at the inauguration. It was not till the spring of 1861 that the place was opened for corn exchange purposes.

As a meeting place for the farmers it career was short-lived, and at a meeting of the shareholders in Dundee in 1865 it was agreed to change the name from the corn exchange to the Kinnaird Hall – in honour of Lord Kinnaird, who had taken such an active part in its promotion.

Source: 'The People's Journal', D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

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