It’s not only the architects and builders who change the face of a city – someone has to put up the money to pay for it!
Daughter of a mega-rich mill owner, Edward Caird of Loch Long, Dumbartonshire, Emma Caird was a bright spark in her youth and half-sister to Sir James Caird, owner of one of Dundee’s most prosperous jute mills.
Emma and James were very close and travelled the world together – Berlin for the Kaiser’s wedding, St Petersburg [at which time Csar Alexander II was assassinated], Moscow, Odessa, Vienna, America and Japan.
In 1892, aged 43, Emma married Lt Col Herbert Marryat of the Manchester Regiment – their only daughter died as an infant.
Between 1916 and 1917, Emma’s half-brother and husband died, and Emma inherited a significant amount of property and money. She spent the last ten years of her life giving a fortune away – she donated to Dundee Royal Infirmary, gifted the Belmont Estate as a rest home for disabled soldiers and also gave money to complete the Caird Hall, in the City Square, where the smaller adjacent hall is named after her.
In 1918, Emma was made a burgess of the city – only the fourth woman to receive this honour. Her portrait hangs in the Caird Hall foyer and her plaque is to the left of the entrance to the Marryat Hall.
Painting of Emma Caird by David Foggie. Copyright Dundee City Council