A final instalment on the Drummochy saltworks to come in the next post...
Following on from yesterday's post about the panhouse of the Drummochy Saltworks, another key building connected to the salt works would have been the 'salt girnel' 'Girnel' is defined as 'a large chest or other receptacle or space for the storage of meal, malt, grain, or salt'. In this case it was a storehouse for salt and it is the red-roofed building surrounded by the stone wall on the waterfront to the left of centre in the above photograph. Now a private home, it has more recently been referred to as the 'Net House' as it was once used for mending, storing and drying nets and other fishing equipment. Nets can be made out in the photo below - hanging out to dry in the walled space between the old girnel and the sea.
A final instalment on the Drummochy saltworks to come in the next post...
The top image shows the panhouse of the former Drummochy Saltworks around the 1950s (when it was being used as a joiner's workshop). It is the darker building to the left of the gable end of Drum Park. The smaller image shows the same building from the other side - probably taken not long before its 1967 demolition. The salt works here began in the early 1740s, by which time there were many long-standing, larger saltworks along the Forth coast. Salt, of course, was a valued commodity for preserving food prior to refrigeration and also had many other uses. Sea water was collected in large iron pans and heated by fires beneath them. As the water evaporated, salt crystals were left behind.
The fascinating book, 'Largo - An Illustrated History' by Eric Eunson and John Band contains a chapter on 'Coal and Salt in the Eighteenth Century' which provides much more detail on the salt panning activities at both Drummochy and Viewforth (beyond The Temple). It also includes a super photograph of the panhouse around 1900 with a group of joiners posing outside it, tools in hand. The book notes that the Drummochy saltworks closed permanently in 1787. The panhouse, however, continued to provide a venue for various other activities for another 180 years! Today a private house sits in the site. More to come on the saltworks tomorrow...
I love the title of this postcard, the dramatic sky and the brightness of the beach. I'd like to step right into the scene. There must be about 30 people in this image. It would be so interesting to know who they were and find out about their lives. It looks like summer, so many of them are probably visitors. The date of this image is unknown but I'd guess the inter-war period. The railway line is still there. The panhouse of the former Drummochy Saltworks is right in the centre of the image, although by this time it would be used as a joiner's workshop (more on this building in a future post).
The Belmont Temperance Hotel was built around 1890, and is shown in the centre of these two first images, just to the right of the bridge over the railway line. It was a three storey building, busiest during the summer months. It must have had great sea views from its upper floors and couldn't have been handier for the railway station.
Sadly, on 22 January 1926 the hotel was gutted by fire. Mr Hugh McLean was the proprietor at the time and on this date only he, his wife and his child were occupying the hotel. The Dundee Courier of the following day described how...
"In the early hours of the morning Mr McLean was awakened by the insistent barking of his dog and, assuming that something must be wrong, he made investigation, and found the lower part of the building a mass of flames. The occupants promptly made their escape in night attire, and were received at a friend's house."
The Buckhaven and Methil Fire Brigade were called just before five in the morning, however, by the time they arrived it was clear that the hotel was beyond saving and the focus was on protecting the surrounding buildings and railway. A shortage of water hampered their work and use had to be made of the sea, although this proved to be challenging as the tide was far out and the hotel situated in an elevated position. Seven hours later the fire brigade left but the hotel's interior was completely destroyed, the roof had fallen in and only the walls remained. The image below shows the shell of the building which remained for a few years after the fire, before its demolition.
Lundin Links and Largo have celebrated many a Burn's Night over the years. A search through newspaper archives gives an insight into some of these occasions. The memory of the national bard was marked in each year in the 1920s and 1930s by the Largo and Lundin Links Men's Social Club. For example in 1924, Mr R. C. Paxton of Homelands presided over a large company. The Courier told of how...
"After tea, pies and haggis had been served, Mr Munro Adamson, Drumpark, gave an interesting paper on "Burns", illustrated by several songs, which were greatly appreciated. The "haggis" was played in by Piper Redpath, Leven, and carried round the room by Mr D Wallace, who was dressed in the style of the Bard and Mr J Y Hunter, headmaster Cellardyke, recited the "Address to the Haggis" in fine style. A musical programme comprising Burn's songs was also carried through."
The Largo W.R.I. also regularly observed Burns Nicht. The 1927 event in the Simpson Institute was reported in the Courier:
"The haggis, which was carried by Miss M Kidd, was piped in by Mr Pedan, Lahill. An interesting paper was given by Rev. WIlliam Neil, Newburn, and was greatly appreciated. The songs "My Heart is Sair" and "Sweet Afton" were rendered by Miss C Baxter, Upper Largo and "Comin' through the Rye" and "Ca' the Ewes" were sung by Mrs Somerville....."To a Mouse" was recited by Miss N Blyth, Buckthorns. Haggis brought by the members was sold to augment the Rural funds."
Below is an image of Burns Cottage, Alloway. If you have recollections of Burns celebrations in the Lundin Links and Largo area, please comment.
This early 20th century image looks down Woodlands Road from the junction with Emsdorf Road. A house painter's business is partially in shot to the right. A water pump in the foreground is of the same style as the one once found at the junction of Mill Wynd and Largo Road - a typical Victorian iron water pump decorated with a lion's head. See earlier post...
The woman and two children look like they are returning from a trip to the beach, carrying a spade and a parasol (although quite warmly dressed). There seems to be some kind of hand cart parked further down the street.
Presumably this area was previously wooded, prior to the various stages of its development. Initially, only the weaver's cottages at the Emsdorf end of the street existed (out of shot to the left), followed by the building of the manse (see other image) halfway along the present street around 1851. This substantial villa, built from local stone, was owned by the Church of Scotland until 1987.
There were a number of phases of further building in the street through the 20th century. The houses on the south side of the street enjoy open sea views as the street occupies an elevated position above the Drummochy Road.
The above postcard is entitled 'Largo from Lundin Pier'. Having not really heard of 'Lundin Pier' before, I thought I'd try to find out more about it. The first mention I found of this pier was in the Fife Herald of 12 January 1843, under the headline 'Melancholy Accident'. It reported that the previous Monday a flory boat bringing ten passengers ashore from the St George steamer had been backing towards Lundin Pier. While putting the boat's head round, the vessel had "shipped a sea which nearly filled her, and immediately went down" placing all on board in imminent danger. Several people plunged into the sea from the shore to assist and all of the flory boat's passengers were got on shore quickly except one. A young seaman from Elie named David Millar had become tangled in a rope which held him under water. Later efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
A 1904 feature in the Evening Telegraph of 13 June, which commended Lundin Links as a seaside resort, spoke of the bathing facilities, saying that...
"The early morning dipper may, if the tide suits, and if he can face the ordeal, enjoy a bracing plunge off either Largo or "Old Lundie" Pier or he may indulge in a more modest "dook" off the sands if the tide is not favourable, or it fit suits his inclination or his swimming powers better."
Variously described elsewhere as "Lundie Rocks", "West Pier" and "Old Pier", Lundin Pier is also mentioned in the 'Largo Village Book' published in 1932, where in the section on 'Fisheries', memories of an old inhabitant (born in 1851) are noted as follows....
"He tells me he has seen the harbour full of fishing boats from the bridge to the sea. He remembers just like a dream, a ferry boat coming in to the "Lundin Pier". He says the pier was busy and bustling then."
I was sorry to hear this week of the closure of the Lundin Links Hotel. A prominent local landmark for well over one hundred years, the hotel's future now seems uncertain. Opened in 1900 to meet the great demand for accommodation for summer visitors and golfers, I'd place this photograph at around 1960. A venue for many a special occasion over the years, not to mention some VIP guests (including the Sultan of Brunei and Maurice Chevalier), the hotel has also had its dramas.
In October 1920, the Evening Telegraph reported under the headline "Alarming Fire at Lundin Links Hotel", that a fire originating in the kitchen on an upper floor had rapidly spread to the roof - ultimately causing £700 worth of damage. The Buckhaven Fire Brigade had attended, cutting the roof to avoid flames spreading to other parts of the building and using a "copious supply of water" to bring the fire under control. Manager at the time, Tom Harris, had received high praise for his efforts to fight the outbreak up until the arrival of the fire service.
Whatever the future holds for the building, the Lundin Links Hotel will hold many memories for locals and visitors alike. I recall Hogmanay dinner dances, birthday parties and family meals. I also remember the excitement when the TV programme 'Tutti Frutti' was filming in the hotel in the 1980s, the cast of which included the actors Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson. What memories do you have? Please feel free to add memories by clicking on 'Add Comment'.
I'm trying something new today...adding some old family cine film footage to Youtube and embedding this in a post. This short movie dates back to circa 1959. While this old film is not exactly high definition, it's a rare moving image of a bygone time including a train crossing the viaduct at Lower Largo, sea-bathers, a rather old-fashioned looking Crusoe Hotel, several boats and a quick view of the Robinson Crusoe statue. It would be great to see more old video footage of the area - if you have some, perhaps you could contact us?
On this day, exactly one hundred and ten years ago, 16 January 1904, an incident took place on the Leven to Lundin Links road close to Sunnybraes Farm. Under the headline 'Extraordinary Row on Fife Road', the Evening Telegraph later reported on the event.
A carting contractor from Lower Largo and his son had been travelling home when they heard the noise of a horse galloping behind them. A 'fast-bodied' cart driven by another local carting contractor had then attempted to pass on the wrong side, mounting the footpath and colliding with the original cart "and as a result the stay was broken and the hocksbar was bent. His horse was rubbed against, and the [drivers] leg was skinned." An altercation seems to have followed and the case was heard in Cupar Sheriff Court several days later.
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!
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