The circa 1950s view across Lundin Links beach towards Leven, Methil and Buckhaven shows the contrast between the people in the foreground enjoying themselves relaxing in the sun, buying ice-cream and paddling in the sea and the heavy industry taking place in the background. Below are some magnified views of the beach-goers at Massney Braes.
The detail below shows the chimneys and industrial buildings to the west of Largo Bay - among them the Wellesley Colliery (see foot of post). The Wellesley operated from the mid-1880s until 1967. Methil Power Station became a prominent feature from the mid-1960s until 2011. Now wind turbines dot the horizon in this direction.
This charming scene, taken around the turn of the century, features the Keil burn alongside the mill at Largo Harbour. Around 1850 the mill was described as follows in the Ordnance Survey name book:
Spinning Mill (flax). A mill. A large and handsomely built spinning mill on the bank of the Keil Burn. A little above the village of Lower Largo. It was built for and is used as a spinning mill for flax. About 60 persons male and female are constantly employed in it. It is in good working repair and is worked partly by water and partly by steam power. It is the property of Mrs.D. Dundas of Largo and is rented by Mr Swan of Kirkcaldy and worked by him and adjoining it is offices and a dwelling house and garden, all in good repair and occupied by the manager Mr Crabbe.
Mr Crabbe was George Crabbe, who was a native of Montrose - born in 1819. He arrived in Largo around 1846. Five of his children were born in Largo between 1846 and 1853. He was noted as 'Mill Manager' in the 1851 census. However, the Largo spinning mill was advertised for sale early in 1854 and Mr Crabbe moved to Kirkcaldy to manage a flax spinning mill there. The mill he left at Largo would remain out of use for a number of years while the East of Fife railway extension was constructed through the area. It reopened around 1860 under the new guise of an oil and cake mill and continued as such for a few decades. It is clearly in operation at the time of the above photograph - note the man in the doorway and the barrels in front of him.
Over the centuries there have been several mills and many millers at Lundin Mill. The above photograph features the flour mill in the foreground (1) , the corn mill in the background (3) and the bakery in between the two (2). Information about the earliest millers is hard to find but census data helps from the mid 19th century onwards. The first census of 1841 recorded several individuals with the occupation 'miller' in Lundin Mill including Peter Smith, Thomas Watson, Hendrey Pratt and James White. There was also an apprentice miller - David Nicoll. Tragically, just a few months after the census, David Nicoll perished in an accident at the corn mill (see article below from 7 October Fife Herald).
In the 1854 map above, the two mills in Lundin Mill are clearly marked - the corn mill to the west and the flour mill to the east. The corn mill was occupied by James White, son of John White (or Whyte) who was miller and farmer on the site before his son. John Whyte's will set out an inventory of his possessions, which provides an enlightening insight to life as a farmer/miller at that time (1844). These included: shares in the Largo Granary Company, nine stacks of wheat, ten stacks of oats, six stacks of barley, a stack of clover hay, five acres of turnip, a pit of potatoes, eight work horses, eleven cows of different ages, three calves, seven breeding swine, two boars, seven young pigs, four coup carts, three corn carts, three iron ploughs, three pair of iron harrows, one cast iron roller, one turnip sowing machine, two pails, two tubs, sixty sacks, four shovels, four forks, five rakes, one sieve, one meal girnel, a wheelbarrow, dung, thrashing machine, two dozen milk basins, six milk pitchers, a cheese press and two cheese vats.
The flour mill was described in the mid-19th century as "a large stone building in good repair, erected for and used as a flour mill it is in good repair and has offices and a dwelling house attached to it. It is worked partly by water and partly by steam power." At that time, it was occupied by the miller George Smith. He was son of the previous miller (noted in the 1841 census), Peter Smith, who had died in 1843 aged around 57. Another son of Peter Smith (also named Peter) was a miller at Cameron Bridge by WIndygates. George Smith died in 1855 aged just 33, after which the mill was advertised for let and his own equipment advertised for sale (see below from Fife Herald).
Meantime, brother Peter continued as miller at Cameron Mill until a move in 1867 to Lundin Mill (see notice published in Fife Herald below). He had owned property in Lundin Mill, Kennoway and Windygates for many years and his Lundin Mill home was Emsdorf House (the largest property on Emsdorf Street). Presumably he used that property for weekends and leisure such as golf. Peter had married Christina Swinton a baker's daughter from Dysart. Together they had at least five sons, two of whom were millers.
The permanent move to Lundin Mill at the age of around 60 seems to have coincided with Peter's retirement, as by the 1871 census Peter Smith is described as a 'retired miller'. The change of pace enabled Peter to spend more time enjoying golf and in 1868 he was one of the group (including Frederick Lumsden and Colin McTaggart) that set up the Lundin Golf Club. Retirement was short-lived, however, as Peter Smith died suddenly at Lundin Mill on 3 September 1871, aged 65.
This aerial view of the Lundin Links Hotel appears to date from the 1950s when the place was advertised as the 'Scottish Riviera' (see adverts below from the same era). When the hotel first opened in 1900 there was no need to cater for cars - the hotel had separate stabling. The gardens made way for driveways and a car park, which seem newly re-surfaced in the image. There were a number of improvements made to the hotel after the Second World War.
At the top of the main photograph is the wooded area known as 'Fir Park', with Largo Road curving round its edge. In the lower left corner some of the south side of Emsdorf Street can be seen, including the flat roof of the hardware shop. The building in the lower right corner (and the long garden behind it) once hosted a coach-builder, as described in a previous post:
Next to the hotel was a coach-builder's business run by Willie Dick and son. There was a pend for carriages to go through and a workshop at the bottom of the garden. Esther Menzies recalled...
"It was a fascinating place to be sent to. There were wheels all over and upended gigs and such like with the shafts up in the air. He also sharpened lawn mowers and knives. Next to this were two cottages or maybe one and a byre. There wasn't much difference. Two old women stayed there. Maggie Drummond sold sweets which were displayed in her window on a table....when you were in the shop or room and looked along the passage you could see the cows flicking their tails. The Seaway is there now."
Two wonderful photographs to share today from blog reader Ian Downie, showing a steam train passing behind The Temple, Lower Largo in Spring of 1965. Both images were taken from the back of Rollo Villa.
The upper image is looking towards Bourtree Brae (seen above first carriage of train) and Cardy House (visible to left of train). The map below marks the direction of the shot. Interestingly, the image features the white-gated Serpentine level crossing (shown in detail in inset) - the means of crossing the railway line for users of the Serpentine path. There was a similar level crossing next to Cardy House and another to the east at Viewforth.
Below is a shot of the same train, taken from the same spot, but facing north east, as the locomotive heads in the direction of Viewforth and Dumbarnie Links, where marvellous sea views could be enjoyed by passengers. These photographs provide a great sense of what it must have been like to have these steam engines powering along right next to the houses and gardens of Largo and are especially poignant as in the same year that these images were captured, the line closed to passenger trains.
With many thanks to Ian Downie
Colin McTaggart was born in Argyll in 1829 and spent his youth at Creggan Farm before becoming an apprentice gardener at Rossdhu House, Luss. This was the mansion house of the Colquhouns and is now club house to Loch Lomond Golf Club. The master gardener there back in the 1850s was Donald Lindsay. Colin must have learned his trade well over the following years, as by 1861 he was 'Master Gardener employing 3 men and 1 woman' at Largo House. Previous Largo House gardener, Thomas Blair, had left to take up a position in Kingston, Surrey, late in 1854, so Colin probably arrived around that time. Proprietor of Largo House and estate during this era was Lilas Dundas Calderwood Durham.
Over the years at Largo House, McTaggart was a regular prizewinner at local horticultural shows and fetes - see examples below from the Fife Herald. During this period there were also regular excursion parties visiting the 'gardens and pleasure grounds' at Largo House. One group numbered 520 when they visited in June 1864. Meanwhile, in 1862, McTaggart married domestic servant Jessie Boyle. However, their union ended in tragedy two years later when their newborn baby daughter died at a few hours old, followed a few days later Jessie herself. Further below is their gravestone at Upper Largo cemetery.
Colin remained at Largo House for a few years after the death of his wife and child and was involved in the creation of Lundin Golf Club in 1868 with Frederick Lumsden and others. But in 1868 Lilias Dundas Calderwood Durham sold the Largo estate and moved to Polton House, near Edinburgh. Colin McTaggart moved to the position of gardener at Arniston House, near the village of Temple in Midlothian, which was owned by Mrs Durham's eldest son Robert Dundas. By 1871 Colin had become remarried - to Margaret Tod. In 1881 they were living in the gardener's house at Arniston with their three children. Ten years later Colin was still still there working as a gardener at the age of 72.
At some stage the McTaggarts moved to Lenzie and it was there that Colin died in 1912 aged 83 and his wife Margaret died in 1919. They were buried in Temple village burial ground, back near Arniston, where they had buried a daughter in 1888.
Arniston House was not dissimilar in age and in style to Largo House (see image below) but, unlike Largo House, it has survived intact to this day. Having undergone recent renovations, the house can be visited by the public and some buildings within the grounds (including the gardener's cottage) can be rented as holidays cottages. The interior of Arniston provides an insight to what the inside of Largo House may have been like in its heyday.
Further information about Arniston House:
The 1930s image above features the Largo Toll House to the left of centre, with the houses of Largo Road behind that. Situated on Harbour Wynd, the toll bar was strategically placed to to stop those travelling down to Largo Harbour. The toll bar and house at this location was created some decades after the toll at Lundin Mill. The intention to establish the toll on Harbour Wynd was discussed in 1839 at a special meeting of the turnpike trustees but it was not until 1846 that the new toll was up-and-running (see notice below from 12 March 1846 Fife Herald). The Ordnance Survey Name Book of the 1850s described the Largo Toll Bar as follows:
A toll bar gate established on the public road Lower Largo to Cupar and a short distance from the former. Adjoining it is a small, neatly built dwelling house in good repair - the property of the Trustees of the County. About 25 chains North from Lower Largo.
No sooner was the Largo toll erected than the tide began to turn against the whole toll system and it became extremely unpopular. By 1879 the tolls were being dismantled and their equipment sold off (see advert from 24 April Fife Herald). Largo toll house continued to be lived in for several more decades but eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1960s.
Born in Edinburgh in 1834 to Harry Lumsden (a commission agent/paper maker's clerk/stationer manager), Frederick Roome Lumsden would become a high-profile figure in the public life of Largo and Newburn. Here is his story. Spending the early years of his life in Edinburgh, Frederick was by the age of 17 a 'student and teacher of English' in Edinburgh. After a spell teaching at Madras College in St Andrews, he moved to become school master at Ardrossan in the late 1850s. In 1863 he was chosen from over eighty applicants to become head teacher at Wood's School in Newburn. And so began his 44-year spell there.
Frederick had married farmer's daughter Janet Hill of Lumbo near St Andrews in 1857 and together they had at least seven children. However, in 1870 Janet died, aged just 32. The 1871 census shows Frederick living at the Newburn school house with six children, 4 bursers a cook and a housemaid. He married second wife, Catherine Craig in Montrose in 1878. She was also a school teacher and, after some years teaching in Montrose, she had recently relocated to Largo's Durham Female School (see entry from 1877 Worrall's Directory below). Together they would have at least six children.
Aside from his long tenure as school master at Newburn School (pictured above), Lumsden was also 'Inspector of Poor and Collector of Rates' for Newburn; Regstrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths; Church session clerk; Parish Council session clerk; clerk to the School Board; and eventually Justice of the Peace. Another notable role that he played was in being one of the founders of Lundin Golf Club in 1868. He also chaired the meeting to reorganise the Club in 1889 after some years in the doldrums. He went on be elected Captain of the resurrected club for 1889. He was also Captain of the Lundin Ladies Golf Club 1900-02.
Frederick Lumsden died on 4 September 1907, aged 73, after suffering from heart disease for some four years. By then he was a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland and had been a pioneer in the advancement of the Fifeshire Educational Institute. Referring to the bursers of Wood's School, the Dundee Courier of 6 Sept described how "Mr Lumsden discharged the duties of guardian to his wards with great care" (the boarding system had run until 1884). The article also spoke of how he was "a great favourite in the district being gifted with much urbanity and kindliness of spirit".
The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald also remembered Mr Lumsden fondly, stating on 13 Sept that "he was a specimen of the best type of old Scots dominie , entering into the sports and pastimes of his pupils, and making himself their friend and adviser as well as their instructor. In Ardrossan, his interests in cricket and swimming will still be remembered by his old boys. In Fife, his leisure energies were naturally centred in agriculture and also in golf."
His position as Newburn school master was taken over by Mr J.H. Balleny of Colinsburgh school.
The fabulous photograph above of the Lundin Links Hotel on the day of its official opening, was taken by Edinburgh photographer and portrait artist William Drummond Young. It features the guests that attended this fashionable gathering - some of which are listed below. The 29 June 1900 edition of 'Golf Illustrated' covered the opening and featured the above image. The hotel was very much linked to the Lundin Golf Club - built on the back of the success of the club, designed by architect Peter Henderson who was then Captain of the Golf Club and frequented by many golfers. In fact, it seemed to be sometimes referred to as the 'Golf Hotel' in its early days.
After a less-than-smooth period of construction (more on that here) the "distinctively modern" hotel replaced the old inn and had its grand opening on 24 May 1900 (Queen Victoria's 81st Birthday). 'Golf Illustrated' described how...
"Entrance is effected through a spacious hall with tiled floor, and a handsome, well-lighted staircase leads to the different flats. Off the landing on the main staircase is a billiard room with two tables. There are twenty bedrooms on the various floors. The whole building has been fitted up with electric light, the power being obtained from an oil engine of the latest type. The sanitary arrangements are of the most modern description."
The bunting and huge flags add a real sense of occasion and the guests all look very well turned out. There must have been many other photographs captured of this day. If you know of any, please do get in touch!
The St Andrews Citizen similarly enthuses about the opening, speaking of "the palatial building", with "soft, thick carpets" and "luxurious appointments". Below are listed the tradesmen responsible for the building. The new hotel must have been successful as within a few years, it was enhanced by the addition of a verandah at the front entrance.
Footnote: Photographer Drummond Young issued a commemorative group picture after the event (clipping from 23 June St Andrews Citizen below) has anyone ever seen this?
This website has previously covered John Wood and Wood's Hospital in Upper Largo. Perhaps lesser known is Wood's School. Initially, in Drumeldrie and later in Newburn, this school was another legacy of John Wood's. Founded on 7th July 1659 by John Wood of Orkie (a descendant of Admiral Sir Andrew Wood), two years before his death, the grammar school was to provide free education to a maximum of six boys with the surname Wood on either their father or mother's side. The boys would be taken into the school at around the age of seven and kept to the age of 14 or 15, at which point they would be given one year's allowance to enable them to commence an honest trade. Education, board and clothing were all provided by the deed of mortification. The school also owned the Farm of Orkie in the Parish of Kettle, from which it received rent in the form of both produce (wheat, oats and barley) and money.
The notices below from the Fife Herald (30 Sep 1847 and 19 June 1856) show how places were advertised when vacancies arose. The head master in the mid-nineteenth century was Mr William Maxwell Wright, up until his death on 16 May 1848. He was described as "parochial teacher of Newburn and Master of Wood's School at Drumeldrie" although by this time to original Wood's Grammar School had amalgamated with the Parish School at Newburn. Some decades earlier the two schools had been joined such that one teacher served both - the combined school being in Newburn.
Following Mr Wright's death, the position of school master was advertised (see below from 28 Jun 1848 Aberdeen Press and Journal). Note the list of subjects taught and the substantial salary attached to the post. The eventual appointee was Mr John Brash, who was born in Mid Calder and taught in Forfarshire prior to coming to Fife. He remained in post until his death in 1862 at the age of 54.
On 2 April 1863 the Fife Herald reported on the election of a new school master. The successful candidate for this "very lucrative office" was Mr Frederick Roome Lumsden. He was chosen from a "great number of applicants, the emoluments of the situation being very attractive" - there were over eighty candidates. Edinburgh-born Lumsden came to Newburn from Ardrossan. He would prove to be an ideal choice - becoming a prominent local figure and filling the school master role for 44 years - more to follow on him.
The map above shows the close proximity of Drumeldrie in the lower left and Newburn to the top centre (with the school marked). The daily routine of the school bursars is detailed below, giving a real insight to the lives of the boys who attended Wood's School in the nineteenth century. This is an extract from the 1873 Commissioner's report on the school. The report also states that "the boys are treated as part and portion of the master's family".
This blog is about the history of the villages of Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo in Fife, Scotland. Comments and contributions from readers are very welcome!
Family lived in Lundin Links for a long time. Really miss the area. Hope to live there again someday. For now, I like to time travel there!