Jim Haynes, Traverse co-founder, dies aged 87

Tributes have been paid to Traverse Theatre founder, Jim Haynes, after his death aged 87.

Haynes is renowned for his influence on Edinburgh’s festivals and cultural scene, transforming this historical city into the cultural hub that it became from the 1960s onwards. He opened Britain’s first paperback bookshop in George Square in 1959, and co-founded the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 1963

Originally built in a former brothel, the Traverse Theatre provided the foundations of success for the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, and Bill Paterson.

Within three years of opening, the Traverse Theatre had produced 110 productions; 33 of which were world premieres.

After his relocation to London in 1966, Haynes continued his work by founding the Art Lab, a cultural centre where John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and David Bowie all staged their work.

Three years ago, Haynes received an honorary degree from Edinburgh Napier University who described him as “a legend of the arts underground.”

Executive producer of the Traverse Theatre, Linda Crooks, said “we’re heartbroken to hear of the passing of the legendary internationalist, serial entrepreneur, and one of our founding spirits. Jim Haynes was truly a ‘one-off’.”

The Scotsman theatre critic, Joyce McMillan, said “Jim Haynes brought a real warmth, genial, and international energy to the Traverse project and made it the social and cultural hub that it became.”

Words by Maddy Raine.


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Image: Edinburgh Napier University.

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