The above photograph shows Harbour Wynd, heading south towards Lower Largo. The building at the corner with the black and white half-timbering was once Largo's Gas Showroom. Also once known as Gasworks Wynd or Toll Road, the Harbour Wynd showroom opened in 1935. The facility was adjacent to the gas retort house and cylinder and was owned by the Kennoway and Largo Gas Company, who quickly set about ingratiating themselves with the locals and the visitors in Largo. The piece below from the 20 August 1935 Leven Advertiser tells of how the manager installed a seat outside the showroom, overlooking Largo Bay, upon which were the words "to use more gas and enjoy more leisure".
The showroom would have had a variety of gas-powered appliances on display, including gas fires, cookers, refrigerators, washing machines, irons, water heaters and pokers for lighting coal fires. Some adverts for such products which appeared in the local press are shown below. The general public would have required some persuasion to try these new innovations after generations of coal based heating and cooking. Concerns about safety had to be allayed and the presence of a showroom in many small towns and villages helped with the transition to a cleaner, more efficient and labour-saving form of power. There was even a travelling gas showroom locally in the 1930s, bringing cookery lectures and demonstrations to places such as Leven, Buckhaven and East Wemyss.
Note the small cartoon character at the foot of several of the gas adverts above. This was 'Mr Therm' - a jolly character designed in 1933 by graphic designer Eric Fraser, which was used in the gas industry's advertising for around four decades. Mr Therm explained how gas worked, highlighted the benefits of using modern products and reminded people of the savings they could make by switching to gas. The slogan "Mr Therm burns to serve you" was often used.
Many small town and village gas showrooms was in inconspicuous, modest buildings such as Largo's and the example below from Biggar (which still exists as a museum). As well as being a place to view and order gas appliances (available for rent, hire-purchase or sale) the gas showroom was a place folks went to pay their gas bills or to have appliances repaired.
In 1965, Largo Gas Showroom was converted into a house and it is now known as Friday Cottage. These days, it is hard to imagine that this once had a shop front, a range of innovative home appliances on show and a queue of people waiting to pay their bills. If you have memories of the gas showroom, please leave a comment.