Built in 1903, parts of this graceful bulding have stood vacant for some years, while negotaitions to use the court room for an exhibit on the history of Mahatma Gandhi were concluded. He was tried twice in this court room and sentenced to prison. The first on 10 January 1908 and the second time on 11 Novemebr 1913.
During his twenty-one years in South Africa, Gandhi was sentenced to four terms of imprisonment. The first, on 10 January 1908 to two months, the second, on 7 October 1908 to three months, the third, on 25 February, also to three months, and the fourth, on 11 November 1913 to nine months hard labour. In total he served seven months and ten days of those sentences.
On two occasions, the first and the last, he was released within weeks because the Government of the day, represented by General Smuts, rather than face Satyagraha and the international pressure it was bringing the government, offered to settle the problems through negotiation
MK Gandhi was tried in the court room again on 11 November 1913 and sentenced to a fine of 60 pounds or a prison sentence of 9 months, with hard labour. He chose the prison sentence.
The exhibit sponsored by the local branch of the 1860 Legacy Founadtion and with funding from businesses and local Indian people in Dundee and Glencoe, showcases Gandhi's life in South Africa and in the Dundee area, but also puts it into the time line of his entire life. Focus is also placed on other people in his life who participated in the non-violent struggle for Indian rights, on the various legislation that affected Indians as well as this history of the magistrates who served in this court house.
It is a lovely building built by Thomas Mitchell, a local building contractor, with the interior fittings were made by John Bennett Serridge, a builder, joiner and cabinet maker in Dundee. The magistrates bench, horseshoe tables and bench with high back and closed front, are all original furntiure originally built for this court room.
The stained glass windows in this building are the same design and mixture of colours as those of St James Church (built 1898) across the road and the Methodist church (built 1902) higher up Gladstone St.