Andrew Carnegie’s ‘ precious beyond price’ gold key returns home to Kirkcaldy
A gold key given to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie when he opened a Scottish theatre is being put on display 100 years later.
It is now set to go on display to mark the venue’s recent £7.8 million makeover.
The key was one of two keys given out when the venue was inaugurated, with the other given to the widow of Kirkcaldy linoleum manufacturer Michael Beveridge, who funded the theatre’s construction.
Both keys will be on display at Kirkcaldy Galleries, situated across the road from the now revamped theatre.
It marks the first time both keys will be seen together since 1899, and will be the first time in a decade that the Carnegie key has been exhibited.
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.
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, he 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 theatre was opened on October 11 1899 to honour the hugely influential economist and philosopher Adam Smith, who was born in Kirkcaldy 300 years ago.
The venue reopens on Saturday, September 23, with a grand reopening concert, hosted by radio, TV and pantomime star Grant Scott.
Other works which can be viewed at the venue include a sculpture of Adam Smith by Italian artist Baron Carlo Marochetti, which will be on permanent display.
The Adam Smith Theatre quickly became a popular venue following its inauguration for its movies, boxing tournaments, opera and concerts.
The building also housed soldiers from Scotland during both world wars.
OnFife, a cultural charity which runs the theatre, cited many famous names who have walked the Adam Smith stage, including James McAvoy, entertainer Jimmy Logan and former prime ministers James Callaghan and Gordon Brown.
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.”
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