Sir James Key Caird

1837 - 1916

Jute Baron and philanthropist. Born in Dundee, Caird was the son of linen and jute manufacturer Edward Caird (1806-89). He was to become one of the city's most successful entrepreneurs, who used the latest technology in his jute mills. Established by his father in 1832, the Ashton Mill was located in the Hawkhill district of Dundee. Caird rebuilt it in 1876, and extended it in 1887 and 1908. He bought the Craigie Mill on Arbroath Road in 1905. Between his two mills, he employed around 2000 workers.

Having grown enormously wealthy, Caird became a generous benefactor. He gave substantial sums to extend the Dundee Royal Infirmary and gifted both the Caird Hall, which dominates City Square, and Caird Park in the north of the city. The Marryat Hall, gifted by his sister Mrs Emma Grace Marryat (1849 - 1927), links to the Caird Hall. Beyond Dundee, he funded the Insect House at London Zoo and paid for ambulances for use in the Balkan Wars (1912-13). Caird also funded Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition of 1914-16, and Shackleton's boat was named in his honour, as was the Caird Coast of the Weddell Sea.

Caird was knighted in 1913 and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of St. Andrews.

Becoming a recluse in his latter years, he died at his country seat, Belmont Castle near Meigle, and was buried next to his father in Dean Cemetery (Edinburgh). He left money which was eventually used to purchase Camperdown Park for the city.

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