The above image shows the first floor dining room of the Lundin Links Hotel, probably in the early 1980s. Through the middle window, the Post Office is visible across the road. One distinctive architectural feature of the hotel is the mix of different window styles and sizes. Arches feature throughout the design inside and out - see more here. The architect, Peter Lyle Barclay Henderson, was, in the main, an architect of breweries and public houses. In the next post, I'll look at some of his other work and draw comparisons with the features of the Lundin Links Hotel - which was described as "an architectural curiosity divorced from any local tradition" in 'The Kingdom of Fife - An Illustrated Architectural Guide' by Glen L Pride. Nevertheless, the striking building became a much-loved part of the village street-scape and many will be wishing for a change in fortunes for the better for this currently empty 1900 building.
The history of Largo Bay Sailing Club dates back well over 50 years. On 6 May 1959, the Leven Mail reported, under the headline "Sailing Club is Mooted at Largo", that "a sailing club is likely to be formed in Largo within the next week".
The popularity of sailing in the Bay for leisure had grown in the post-war period and a group of enthusiasts decided to organise themselves into a Club.
The inaugural meeting was held on Monday 11th May in the Crusoe Hotel. The newspaper article commented upon the appropriateness of the venue, given that Alexander Selkirk had honed his sailing skills in Largo Bay. Further details were given on the plans for the Club as follows...
"Steps have already been taken to build a concrete toe or slipway for the boats, so that they can take to the water very easily. The area chosen is known as the Orry, a broad access road to the beach, and arrangements have already been made with the District Council to have that part railed off at the seaward end. Two men interested in the club have agreed to contribute labour and materials for the building of a slipway, and it is expected that it will be ready in plenty of time for the main holiday period."
It was noted that the main purpose of the Club was to cater for dinghy owners but that non-boat owners were also welcome to join. There were also intentions to link up with other Fife Sailing Clubs to hold inter-club races. Clearly the Club proved popular, as the facility shown in the photograph below was subsequently built and the Club continues to thrive today. For more information see the Largo Bay Sailing Club website at: http://www.largobaysc.org.uk/
Monday 22 September 2014 saw the official opening of the Homelands Trust-Fife's site in Lundin Links. The facility, which is for the use of people affected by disability, includes four accessible hoilday cottages and a drop-in centre named The Paxton Centre. The whole site has been built within the grounds of what was once a large villa named Homelands built in the mid-19th century, probably very soon after the arrival of the railway in Lundin Links in 1857. Homelands was purchased by Robert Carswell Paxton in 1908, and it remained under the ownership of the Paxton family until the death of the last family member, Isabel Paxton, at the age of 88 in 1993. All members of the Paxton family made major contributions to the local area in a variety of ways - being actively involved in community activities, supporting wartime efforts and seeking to improve the lives of those in need. In fact, I would like to share more detail on the lives of Isabel, and her sisters Jessie and Margaret, in forthcoming posts.
This week marks the end of a long journey, however, in transforming this long-established site into a state-of-the-art facility for those affected by a range of disabling conditions. As Menzies Campbell (who opened the site on Monday) said "the generosity of Miss Paxton" combined with the "determination of the local community" makes this a "remarkable" achievement. This facility will no doubt be enjoyed by many for a long time to come and it's the future which is most important now. However, it is fitting that the Paxton name is remembered and that a sense of the past remains - both in terms of the beautiful grounds with its mature trees and by the way that elements of the old Homelands house have been incorporated into a porch close to the entrance. Below is a photograph of the porch, alongside an old image of Homelands with its corresponding window detail.
I've just noticed today that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) have added two new images of Lundin Links to their 'Britain from Above' website. These are the first images to be added from the Lundin Links and Largo area (although there are several views of neighbouring Leven). Use of the images on blogs is permitted provided they are not altered and the attribution is displayed. Both images were taken in 1954 and are centred on what is now the Old Manor Hotel, but then was the Beach Hotel.
The above image is a wider angle shot, including the railway station and its sidings to the lower right corner and Woodielea Road and the first hole of the Ladies Golf Course to the top right corner. Both images show the Standing Stanes in the centre of the golf course and the terraced garden of the hotel. Note the intensive cultivation of the ground to the left of the hotel and the very new looking houses on Links Road (then Station Road). Also noticeable are the gap sites on both sides of Leven Road, where more houses would later be built. Hopefully more images of the local area might be added to the Britain from Above website over time - I'll keep an eye out.
The Durham Hall, on Durham Wynd in Lower Largo, was originally built as a school circa 1860 as a replacement for an earlier school which was located on what is now the Temple car park. After it ceased to be a school, it seems to have eventually become quite run down. However, thanks to the efforts of locals, including many local tradesmen, it was repaired and refurbished in the 1950s. By August 1957, after it had been acquired by the Largo St. David's Church, it was reopened as a hall. One of the first events held in the revamped hall was Woman's Guild sale of work. As the photograph below shows, the event was very well attended. The Leven Mail of 14 August said that...
"...even this new hall wasn't quite large enough to hold the enormous crowd that turned up for the sale. Besides being packed to capacity inside, there was a queue many yards long outside waiting to be allowed in - and there was a slight drizzle of rain; that's how enthusiastic these Largo and Lundin Links people were to support their church."
The sale was opened by Mrs A.H. Muriset (of the Lundin Links Hotel) who was introduced by Rev. George Watt. Mrs Muriset remarked that many people, like herself, would remember the hall as a school, and later as an A.R.P centre during the war. Rev. Watt apologised for the ongoing work at the entrance to the hall, where drains and water pipes were still being laid. He joked that he hoped no one had fallen into one of the many holes in the ground that remained around the entrance. The hall has continued to be well-used by the community over the past 50+ years. If you have memories of events held here, please comment.
Back in the 1930s, an illustrated guide to Lundin Links and Largo claimed that "Lundin Links offers unusually complete facilities for golfers for all ages, types and degrees of proficiency". This was backed up by descriptions of not only the Lundin Golf Club and the Ladies' Course but also the Pitching and Putting course near the railway station and the putting course next to the tennis courts.
Details of the charges for visitors to use these facilities were listed (see below) alongside glowing reviews of the courses. The Lundin Golf Club was said to have "naturally good turf which has all that spring and keenness which can be found only on a seaside course" and it was highlighted that "the player is never long out of sight and sound of the sea". A new innovation was that the course had recently "been piped" meaning that in a dry summer the green would remain in "first-class order".
The handiness of the Ladies' Course was pointed out - the first tee being "practically in the heart of the village". The course was described as being "kept in admirable order". The feature went on to say that "unlike the average course of its kind it has a number of really long holes, so that it affords an attractive game to the expert as well as a good "nursery" for the less experienced".
Looking at the scale of charges, it seems that the lady visitors to the village got a good deal - with less expensive prices at the Lundin Club and charges at the Ladies Course that were half of what a gentleman would pay, were he allowed to play on the course at all.
Crowds were gathering on Largo Pier for a performance when this photograph was taken, probably in the early 1930s. As a booklet produced by the Largo Parish Community Council at the time stated:
"No modern seaside resort is considered to cater adequately for its visitors unless it provides variety entertainments, and the Pier Pavilion on Largo Pier is regularly visited by competent companies of artistes. For some time past these entertainments have been managed by Mr Clayton, who also organises cheerful little dances in his picture house from time to time."
The picture house was of course La Scala in Lundin Links and Mr Clayton would be one of the three Clayton brothers, whose mother Jessie had had La Scala built in 1920. Her husband William Clayton had been killed in World War One. He was a marine engineer and was one of fourteen killed on a cargo ship named 'Barnton' when it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in the Bay of Biscay on 24 April 1917. The cargo steamer had been carrying iron ore from Bilbao to the Tyne. The inscription 'Mar. Ch. Eng. W Clayton' appears on the Largo War Memorial. Mrs Clayton's enterprising venture to set up a cinema, in the village where all her sons had been born, provided a life-long career for her offspring.
Helpfully the name 'Lundin Links' is painted on the bench at the railway station in this photo, otherwise it might have been hard to identify which station this was. There are many unknowns regarding this scene - when the photo was taken, who these two ladies are and where they were going. I'd hazard a guess that this might have been around 1910, that the ladies were sisters and that they were visitors rather than residents of the area. Both are carrying cameras, so perhaps are off on a day trip to one of the East Neuk villages - with the dog and whoever might have been behind the camera lens. If you have an alternative theory, please comment.
On the station building walls hang posters advertising an 'Express Service' to Yorkshire and evening services to Aberdour - another popular destination for day trippers. Another insight into special services around this time is given in the book "The Leven & East of Fife Railway" by Hajducki, Jodeluk and Simpson, which states that:
"In the summer of 1910 the only named train to operate over the East Fife line was inaugurated when the 'Fifeshire Coast Express' began to run as a Fridays-only...service.....In the following year the service became a daily one and continued to run every season until the outbreak of the war."
A few weeks ago I did a post about the once-popular annual 'Flying off the Pier' contest at Lower Largo. Well, I just spotted that someone had shared the above photo via the 'All those years ago' feature on the East Fife Mail's Facebook Page. It's a cracker of a photo - close up on the 'flying craft' and 'flyers', with a huge crowd in the background. Looks like members of the Leven and District Round Table taking the plunge. I'm not sure where the photo originated or which year this was - if you know more or have other images of the event, please get in touch.
I noticed some time ago that the postcard below showed a roofless row of houses in the background on Largo Road. The image must date from around 1905 and I've zoomed in on the houses in question in the upper image. There appears to be three neighbouring homes with exposed rafters and empty looking windows. Too old looking to be under construction, unlikely to be undergoing simultaneous re-roofing and no obvious sign of fire....these buildings are not there today, so I thought perhaps these homes were awaiting demolition.
The mystery was fully answered in a passing comment within the memoirs of Esther Menzies (published in 1974). She explained about this section of the street....
"It was a derelict "feu f'an" they called it. The feu hadn't been paid and the heirs were said to be in Ireland. The houses were about where the police station is. A few of us went in one night. We climbed the rickety stairs, handled the rusty branders and other cooking utensils, touched the old sticky treacle tins, gradually grew silent and crept out."
Who knows how long these lay empty or at what stage the roofs were removed, but these abandoned homes were eventually demolished and replaced with the police house and other houses.
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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