In the 19th and early 20th centuries an overcrowded warren of closes and tenements known as the Vault occupied the area of Dundee City Centre now taken up by the Caird Hall, Council Chambers and City Square. In medieval times the site was occupied by St. Clement’s Church and graveyard.
Sir James Caird, who amassed a fortune through the jute trade in Dundee, donated up to £100,000 for the building of a new City Hall and Council Chamber.
The whole area of the Vault and the Greenmarket had to be demolished including Dundee’s architecturally significant 18th century Town House.
King George V and Queen Mary laid the foundation stone of the Caird Hall in 1914 by electric press button control from Caird’s Ashton Works in the Hawkhill. The electric buttons were formed from large pieces of Emerald and Jade. The Emerald, of 271 carats in weight, and one of the largest in the world, was presented as a gift to the king. The gem was handed back and later became incorporated into the Lord Provost’s Chain of Office.
Soon after the foundation stone had been laid, building work come to a halt because of the First World War, and it was not until 1923 that work was finally completed. The building, designed by city architect James Thomson, is constructed on a reinforced concrete framework. The ten doric columns facing City Square are each four feet in diameter and thirty-two feet high.
Stars appearing on stage at the Caird Hall have included: Dame Nellie Melba, Harry Lauder, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Cliff Richard, The Bay City Rollers, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Elton John, Paul Weller, Billy Connolly, and many others.