Delay to visitor centre puts Adam Smith lecture on hold

Professor Michael Sandel, of Harvard University, addresses the audience at last year's event
Professor Michael Sandel, of Harvard University, addresses the audience at last year's event

The prestigious Adam Smith lecture draws the biggest international names in politics, philosophy and economics to Kirkcaldy.

But the showcase event will not run this year because a nine-month delay in building the new £1 million Adam Smith visitor centre has put festivities on hold.

The lecture was originally scheduled to coincide with the opening of 1 Hunter Close, which is considered the cornerstone of the town’s new Merchants’ Quarter.

Marilyn Livingstone, chief executive of the Adam Smith Global Foundation, said: “Building works have been beset with various difficulties outwith anyone’s control, the most significant being the discovery of 15th century walls and apertures in the foundations.

“That meant we had to raise additional funds of £100,000 and that takes time.”

She added: “We would have liked to have had a lecture this year but we took a decision as a partnership to hold the big events over, including the lecture, until the building is finished.”

The Foundation is currently in the process of buying back the building from Fife Historic Trust and that exchange, which is due to be completed soon, will allow a 24-week internal re-fitting programme to commence.

The Foundation aims to have the building complete by mid to late March.

“Old buildings are always difficult,” said Mrs Livingstone, “but the benefit is this building which we believed was 18th century, actually dates to Adam Smith’s lifetime.

“His house has been demolished but this building stood in his garden so it was really worth preserving as part of his historic legacy.”

The Adam Smith Lecture series, originally launched by Fife College 40 years ago, has brought many leading international figures to Kirkcaldy.

Last year Professor Michael Sandel, described as “the most famous teacher of philosophy in the world” joined an impressive list of former speakers including Alan Greenspan, Kofi Annan and Mervyn King.

Although, strictly speaking, not an annual event, the lecture has been held anually in recent years.

The Adam Smith Global Foundation is aiming to host a whole package of cutural events in late May or early June to mark the opening of the visitor centre and the adjoining Adam Smith Close.

“We are looking to invite international guests who would hopefully become more involved with the Adam Smith Global Foundation in the future,” said Marilyn Livingstone.

“It will be a bigger event next year and we are confident we will be able to repeat our successes of before.”