Vintage news reporting often includes stories that no one would bother documenting nowadays. These charming stories - of unusually large fish, swarming flies, flowers blooming, birds nesting and the like - show how people were very in tune with their natural surroundings and how life's tiny details were considered 'news'. Here are a few more examples of small-time tales from a bygone age...
A summer hail shower made the news in 1875 (3 July Fifeshire Advertiser).
Wood pigeons found themselves in the firing line in 1870 (22 September Fife Herald above).
An unusual apple was newsworthy on 31 August 1887 (Fife Herald).
A tree root was chosen as a hiding place for counterfeit coins in 1875 (30 December Fife Herald).
The Fife Free Press of 1 June 1935 above harked back to "old world" Largo.
This 1976 photograph shows the 'Opel Kitchens' showroom at 4 Emsdorf Street in Lundin Links. The shop had originally been James Brown's fruiterer and florist. The Lundin Links Pharmacy is just visible to the right. Opel Kitchens was there for a number of years before the building was converted into housing. The up-to-date photo further below shows the premises on the left of the Pharmacy. I imagine a few local households had a fitted kitchen arranged through this showroom - any memories welcome!
Born on 19 November 1857 in Edinburgh to ironmonger James Douglas and his wife Catherine Watson, George Watson Douglas had the original butcher shop at the Leven Road row of shops in Lundin Links. The above photograph shows the shop a few years after it first opened (circa 1899) when George was in his forties and had already had a butcher shop at Forth Street in Leven for some time. The image shows a very traditional butcher's window display, typical of the days before refrigeration and pre-packaged food. Much of the produce would have been locally sourced - some perhaps arriving at this butcher shop from nearby farms via the slaughter house on Hillhead Lane.
Half carcasses would hang from large metal hooks suspended from the ceiling. The shop's internal walls were lined with tiles. Fresh sawdust would have been spread daily on the floor. Salt and spices would have been used to help preserve certain meats. The advert below reveals that the specialities of the business (and presumably what many locals and visitors were eating back then) were "salted and spiced rounds, pickled tongues, sausages and Douglas's far-famed corned beef".
Many people would shop on a daily basis for meat. The advert further below mentions that "orders called for daily and promptly delivered by van". This shop was built with both a cellar and an outside store (across the rear courtyard) - both of which offered some cooler storage space. The 'back shop' just behind the shop space would be used for preparation and had a large sink on the back wall. The gate to the right of the shop (out of shot) would have been in constant use with incoming and outgoing produce. Although George Douglas died aged only 45 in 1903, the family business continued here in Lundin Links for some time and for even longer in Leven.
Do you recognise the location of this former chemist shop in Lundin Links? This is not at the corner of Links Road and Emsdorf Street where the present chemist's is located. This one was on Hillhead Street in the premises which now contains the Doctor's Surgery. Peter Cowie occupied this space within in David Lindsay's building in the early 1900s. He also had another chemist shop in Upper Largo.
The son of a farmer, Peter Cowie was born in 1871 in Turriff, Aberdeenshire. By the age of 19, he was a chemist's apprentice in MacDuff and ten years later a chemist in his own right in Turriff. However, the death of Upper Largo chemist Charles Thomson late in 1901 (aged only 31) saw Peter Cowie relocate to Fife and take over the chemist on the north side of Upper Largo's Main Street (believed to be in the shop shown below, number 25).
Shortly after coming to Largo, on 6 February 1902, Peter married Mary (Polly) McConnachie at the Fife Arms Hotel in Turriff. The couple lived at the Upper Largo shop until Peter's death at the age of 47 on 14 March 1917. In July 1917 James Bowie took over the Upper Largo chemist shop. Moving across the road to larger premises a few years later. Peter Cowie had been in poor health for a few years prior to his death and had given up the Lundin Links shop by 1915 - leaving Andrew Hogg as the only chemist in Lundin Links (the Emsdorf Street shop that remains a pharmacy to this day). The little shop on Hillhead Street later became Jeannie Turbayne's sweetie shop.
Below is the full 1909 advert for Peter Cowie, Chemist and Druggist. Note the dark room available for free use by amateur photographers. Also see the telephone numbers at the foot of the advert, reflecting that these were the very early days of telephony. Finally, at the very end of this post is a 'then and now' image of number 4 Hillhead Street.
In 1971 Largo St David's Church marked 200 years since its first church building was completed. A Bicentenary Social was held on 26th February followed by special services on Sunday 28th (see programme above). In addition to the minister at the time - Rev. Angus H. Haddow - three former minsters of the church were also involved in these events: Rev. J. Stewart Rough (minister 1925-32); Rev. J. Graham (minister 1948-56) and Rev. G Watt (minister 1956-63). The four men are shown in the photograph below (from the following week's East Fife Mail). Incidentally each former minister had paid tribute at the events to the 1933-47 minister the late Rev. D. Auchinvole Dick.
It was noted that the church's last 200 years had "proved less turbulent than its dramatic origins", which saw a lengthy disagreement over a proposed new minister at Largo Kirk (Upper Largo) result in several members 'lifting their Bibles and quitting the Establishment' to form a new congregation. Initially the new church was known as 'Largo Relief Church', then it became 'Largo United Presbyterian Church' but an interesting scenario occurred in 1900. The United Presbyterian Church united with the United Free Church and so left two churches in Largo Parish potentially having the same name of 'Largo United Free Church' (i.e. Lower Largo's Church and the Church on Upper Largo's Main Street where a garage now stands). A vote was taken at the AGM of the Lower Largo congregation to select between the names 'Largo, St David's' and 'Largo South United Free Church'. The former winning out and likely chosen as a mark of respect to the long-serving late minister, Rev. David Malloch. The centenary of the Church in 1871 had coincided with the building of the existing church.
The photograph above shows the Kirk Session at the time of the Bicentenary. The oak communion table featured was donated by Mrs Daysh in memory of her mother in 1938. The distinctive purple wall design with the crosses was added as part of a redecoration of the Church in February 1960. Below is a list of the ministers of the Church and the dates of their service. Those listed below were followed by Rev. T.J Dyer (1972-79), Rev. James A.R. MacKenzie (1979-1987), Rev. Rosemary Frew (1988-2005) and Rev. John Murdoch (2006-2016).
There will be many a kent face in this wonderful mid-1960s photograph featuring of some of the Largo St David's Church congregation, including the choir and the Life Boys. The occasion was a fund-raising concert in the Durham Hall for the works required to relocate the Church Bell. The original tall bell-cote at the top of the church frontage had to be removed for safety reasons. On 3rd January 1965 the Church Bell (which had been presented to the congregation in 1871 by Mrs Hogg of Glasgow) was re-sited at the north gable of the Church. At the same time, the bell was made electrically operated - the cost of the conversion being met by the congregation and a bequest made by the late Margaret Nicoll, Church Treasurer, in whose memory it was dedicated.
A special song was written and performed at the concert - the words of which are shown below. The minister at the time was Rev. Angus H. Haddow (fifth from the left in the back row) who had arrived in 1963. In 1965 a special service was held to rededicate the Church Bell, as well as new external wall railings and gates (the previous railings having been removed during World War Two). The images further below show the church building before and after these alterations.
Sketch of Largo St David's Church was done by Mr J.H. Williams for the 1971 Bicentenary of the Church.
With many thanks to the reader who kindly provided the group photograph.
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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