Work to create a heritage centre celebrating the life and work of world renowned economist Adam Smith is finally complete.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in Kirkcaldy on Friday to mark the milestone, hailed as a catalyst for wider social and economic regeneration in the town.
As the UK digested the implications of the EU referendum result, Mr Brown said pointedly: “It is important I’m here today where we are opening something big rather than closing something big, where we are repairing something that’s historic rather than destroying it.”
The heritage centre has been created in a restored building in the garden of Smith’s childhood home, just off the High Street, by the Adam Smith Global Foundation in a bid to return Kirkcaldy’s famous son to the heart of the town.
Until now, his achievements have been the preserve of academics with local people largely unaware of his enormous global significance or the part his home town played in his major works, including the Wealth of Nations in 1776.
The centre, along with Adam Smith Close – a historic vennel running alongside it – will officially open in September to coincide with the annual Adam Smith Lecture.
Friday’s event was arranged as a thank you to the many people and organisations who contributed to its creation.
Mr Brown said: “This is a project that has brought so many parts of Kirkcaldy and Fife together for a very noble cause.”
He added: “Adam Smith would look out to sea from where he lived in Kirkcaldy.
“He would see that the future of the town and this country rested on trade and that’s what gave him the idea to write the Wealth of Nations.
“What we’re celebrating is not just the physical exhibition but this idea we should always be an outward-looking country.”
The Adam Smith Heritage Centre and Close project, led by the global foundation and Fife Council, has received support from the Coastal Communities Fund and Fife Environment Trust.
Councillor Neil Crooks, chair of Kirkcaldy area committee, said it would be a significant part of the beginning of a journey to support the town centre.
That will then mark the start of an ambitious agenda for much-needed development of the town’s east end.