Bard tribute returns to Dalkeith

Rod Lugg, Andrew Noble, Fiona Maher and Ian Slamin with the original Burns plaque
Rod Lugg, Andrew Noble, Fiona Maher and Ian Slamin with the original Burns plaque

Melville Housing and the Dalkeith History Society have announced plans to honour Robert Burns in the soon to be restored Corn Exchange.

A cast iron plaque will will be displayed on the first floor of the historic building on Dalkeith’s High Street.

The plaque will be an exact replica of one which was first displayed on exactly the same spot in 1859.

The original plaque was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the Bard’s birth, January 25 1759, and was presented to the Dalkeith Town Commissioners (the forerunners of the Town Council).

It hung in the Corn Exchange for many years on the first floor balcony. The balcony leads to the board room which will be available for community use once restoration work is complete.

Alan Mason, chairman of Dalkeith History Society, said: “It is important that the Burns plaque be located back on the wall along the gallery but I feel the original plaque needs to be carefully conserved and that it remains in the collection as part of our archive. The replica will look exactly the same but is a safer option, safeguarding the original.”

The restoration of the Grade A listed Corn Exchange building is being made possible thanks to grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland in addition to Melville’s contribution.

The carefully restored building will provide a new office for Melville as well as a new Dalkeith Museum, managed by the Dalkeith History Society.

“The history and heritage of the Corn Exchange is very significant to Dalkeith and every effort is being made to restore the building as sympathetically as possible,” said Melville chief executive Andrew Noble.

“As the work nears completion I’m delighted that a copy of the Burns plaque will be returned to its rightful place to celebrate the life of our national poet.”