The Corn Exchange is located at the north end of the High Street, halfway between the current commercial centre of Dalkeith and the entrance to Dalkeith Country Park.

The building is at the widest part of the street and is set back from its neighbours, so is not particularly prominent. This is noted by Colin McWilliam in ‘Buildings of Scotland, Lothian’ when he comments on the contribution of the Corn Exchange to the townscape; “The gabled Tudor CORN EXCHANGE by David Cousin, 1853, would play the part if it did not stand back from the line of Forrester’s housing’’.

The large scale ordnance survey maps of 1852 and 1893 indicate that the adjacent frontages moved forward in the intervening years. Like the building itself its presence on the High Street is discrete and modest. Because of its size the building has a second public elevation on St Andrew Street. Here it is more prominent because it is not set back and the adjacent properties are much smaller in scale. St Andrew Street is not a busy street, it is mainly housing and there are no other significant buildings.

The Local Community
The Corn Exchange was built to serve as the grain market for the local farmers, this it did successfully until the end of the 19th century, and less so in the subsequent years as trade declined during the early 20th century. The growth of the railways and the decline in the role of the market towns saw the need for local Corn Exchanges disappear.

The building also had other uses; it served the community as a focal point for social activity from when it opened, until it was taken over by Ferranti in the early 1960’s. It has been used for gatherings of all kinds including balls, banquets, dances, public and political meetings, lectures, cinema, concerts, theatre and exhibitions.

The use of the building for public gatherings was even mentioned in an article in ‘The Courant’ (12 August 1854) describing the opening celebrations. According to David R Smith, as part of the transfer of the lease from the Duke of Buccleuch to Dalkeith Town Council, the intention was that the hall would be available for the benefit of the public, however this requirement was apparently omitted from the deeds.

The Corn Exchange has historically had an extremely important role in the social, political and cultural life of the local community. Although no longer occupying this role, the local community hasn’t forgot it about. With much curiosity about what the next stage in its history will be, several local residents have taken the opportunity to have a peek inside when the surveying work was being undertaken.

History

“The Corn Exchange has historically had an extremely important role in the social, political and cultural life of the local community. ”