Dunfermline Press

Andrew Carnegie key goes on show to mark re-opening of theatre

- By Chloe Goodall Reporter Chloe.Goodall@newsquest.co.uk

A GOLD KEY that was given to philanthro­pist Andrew Carnegie when he first opened the Adam Smith Theatre will go on show to mark the reopening of the Kirkcaldy venue.

The keepsake was one of two presented to VIP guests when the iconic theatre was inaugurate­d in 1899, but now that the venue has undergone a £7.8million makeover, the keys will be reunited for an exhibit at Kirkcaldy Galleries.

OnFife’s collection­s team leader, Gavin Grant, said: “The theatre’s reopening is a wonderful opportunit­y to reunite the two presentati­on keys for the first time since 1899.

“We’re delighted that visitors to Kirkcaldy Galleries can view these significan­t objects from the town’s history over the coming year.” marks the completion of a threeyear refurbishm­ent programme.

Crafted by local jeweller Alex Constable, the keepsakes were not keys to the theatre itself but decorative items bearing Kirkcaldy’s coat of arms and inscriptio­ns to each recipient.

The theatre was opened on 11 October 1899 to honour the hugely influentia­l economist and philosophe­r Adam Smith, who was born in Kirkcaldy 300 years ago.

A sculpture of Smith by Italian artist Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-67) will be on permanent display in the refurbishe­d foyer.

The marble bust is part of the extensive art collection managed by cultural charity OnFife, which runs the theatre now transforme­d into a multi-purpose creative hub.

Speaking at the opening in 1899, Carnegie declared the venue “suitable for concerts, charades, private theatrical­s, meetings of philanthro­pic committees, lectures upon interestin­g and instructiv­e topics and entertainm­ents of all kinds”.

Accepting his ceremonial key from Mrs Elizabeth Beveridge, Carnegie said: “This key, presented in any circumstan­ces, would have been precious beyond price.

“Coming, Madame, from you, the honoured wife of one of the benefactor­s of Kirkcaldy, I assure you this key must ever derive and retain tenfold value and (will be) handed down in our family as one of its most precious heirlooms.”

The steel magnate was also given the Freedom of the Burgh of Kirkcaldy at the ceremony.

The philanthro­pist’s key is being loaned by the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. Mrs Beveridge’s keepsake is on long-term display at Kirkcaldy Galleries, which is also run by OnFife.

Following its inaugurati­on, the Adam Smith quickly became a popular venue for plays, opera and concerts, as well as boxing tournament­s and exhibition­s of dance. In 1913, the first of many films was shown.

The building saw active service during two world wars housing members of the Highland Cyclist Battalion, as well as Polish troops, billeted in Fife to bolster coastal defences.

Major renovation­s were carried out to mark the 250th anniversar­y of Adam Smith’s birth in 1973, creating a new-look venue designed to meet the changing needs of the community.

Famous names who have walked the Adam Smith stage include David Bowie, James McAvoy, Jimmy Logan and others.

The theatre reopens on Saturday (September 23) with a concert of music, drama and dance hosted by Grant Stott.

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