The above 1920s photograph shows James Harris and Sons' 'Central Garage' on Upper Largo's Main Street, with a rather splendid vehicle emerging from the main entrance. The photograph is part of a larger advertisement (see foot of post) that appeared in the 'Guide to the Kingdom of Fife' by Andrew S. Cunningham. At the time the garage boasted space for 20 cars, a kerbside petrol pump, closed and open motors for hire as well as lorries and a charabanc.
James Harris was born in Collessie in 1869. While working as a coal miner, he met and married Helen Evans of Dunfermline in 1891. They settled in Largo, where James's occupations included carrier, coal contractor and a hirer of horse-drawn vehicles. By 1911 he operated one of Fife's first motor hire services. Later he became a pioneer of motor coach services. Circa 1921, with an expanding business and seven children, James converted the buildings shown above (once the site of an early 19th century brewery) into the garage, which he ran with his sons James, William and Benjamin.
In 1925, James opened a large garage on Commercial Road in Leven. The two-centred business thrived and, by the 1930s, the family operation had diversified to include a Buckhaven to St Andrews bus service and wide-ranging motor coach tours - see advert below from 24 July 1934 Leven Advertiser. The piece further below from the 30 November 1937 Leven Advertiser reflects the success and popularity of Harris and Sons, with 200 people attending the annual staff dance that year.
The Harris family lived at the corner of Main Street and South Feus, in a house named Evanslea (to reflect Mrs Harris's maiden name), before moving around 1925 into 'Manelian' on South Feus. This flatted building was named after the four Harris four daughters - Maggie, Nellie, Lizzie and Annie. In addition to his business interests, James took an active role in community life. For example, he was a member of the Parish Council, a president of the Largo Pier Committee, Treasurer of Largo Curling Club, a member of the Fife Education Authority, part of Largo Baptist Church and was organising secretary to the East Fife Liberal Association. James retired around 1940 and died in 1951 aged 81 (survived by his seven children). His first wife Helen had died in 1941. He remarried in 1942, to Cecilia Gulland. The garage (seen below in the 1950s) changed hands a number of times into the 1990s. Ultimately the old building collapsed and was demolished and the site is now occupied by housing.