The image above by Valentine of Dundee was published in a 1946 tourist guide to Leven, Largo and Elie. Taken from an upper window of Elmwood boarding house in Lundin Links, the photograph showcases the putting green, tennis courts and football pitch. Note the worn grass around the goal mouth of the pitch - showing that it was well used. Also there is what appears to be a vendor (perhaps of ice-cream and other refreshments) set up between the three facilities wearing a long white apron. Largo Law can be seen in the distance but even more prominent is the bastion of trees at Fir Park.
The above photograph, dating from the 1890s, has been shown here before, in one of the very first posts on this site in 2013. However, it's worth revisiting now that the site has a larger audience and more related information. The top version is a scan of the original photograph, while the lower image is a cleaned up version. The photographer was James Gay of Elie.
He was born in 1849 in Crail, the son of a farm grieve. He spent many years in the army as a young man, including time in India. Around 1890 he settled in Elie, setting up a photography business. In 1897, at the age of 47 he married Elizabeth Wilson of Pittenweem. He became a town councillor in Elie in 1901 and a Bailie in 1905. After suffering poor health for a number of years, James (pictured below) died in 1922, aged 72.
The subject matter is a busy scene of summer visitors enjoying putting on Crescent Road, on the present site of Lindisfarne/Glenartney. The building on the left comprises 'Fir Park' and 'Braddan', while the house on the right is 'Elphinstone'. Note also the gable end of the old Lundin Links Hotel (inn) on the extreme left in the distance with the double chimney (and the trees of the Fir Park). This era saw growth in summer visitors which resulted in the building of several new boarding houses and the opening of the new Lundin Links Hotel. It was a time of 'smoking concerts', sea bathing and sporting pursuits.
This spot is one of several where golf or putting has been played over the decades. Putting once took place at Station Road and also at Victoria Road. There used to also be a small putting area at the Lundin Ladies Golf Course close to the first tee. At the foot of the post is a close-up of the late Victorian putting action.
The previous post recalled the presence of the Highland Cyclist Battalion at Lundin Links during the First World War. From the beginning of the war, the main billets (ie lodging places for soldiers) for the HCB were St Catherine's and Fir Park. With St Catherine's being situated on the corner of Victoria Road and Station Road (extreme right in above image) and Fir Park being on the corner of the parallel Crescent Road (left of centre above), officers staying at Lindisfarne (positioned between the two - behind the street light in above picture) could easily observe both places.
However, on 12 February 1916, there was an unfortunate turn of events. The incident was sensationalised in the Fifeshire Advertiser (19 February) which asserted that "thrill after thrill was served out to the staid resort of Lundin Links on Saturday night, one villa being razed to the ground, and another having a narrow escape". To begin the tale....at around 9pm, a sentry went to an upstairs room within St Catherine's while all the other men were out (either on duty or on leave) and found it full of smoke. The Scotsman of 14 February gives the following account:
"The guard were called out, and attacked the fire, which had started in the parlour, the only place where a fire was kept. At this stage the flames were confined to the floor and had evidently risen from a cinder which had fallen from the grate. Immediately after, however, the flames passed along the joists into another room in which the furniture of the villa was stored. There the fire burned fiercely."
The Fifeshire Advertiser added:
"P.C. Flaws and other local men joined the military; fire extinguishers were secured from Mr Ferguson's and Mr Somerville's, and an increased attack was made. By some means the window in the parlour was broken; the wind got hold of the flames....and at once the place flared up like a pine torch."
The Buckhaven Fire Brigade were called. Unfortunately, their engine was under repair and they had to bring their apparatus in Messrs Smith and WIlliams' motor car. Moreover, once on the scene, they found that "the stand-up pipe would not fit the local hydrant" and so the motor car had to return to Leven to fetch alternative equipment. It was not until the arrival of the Kirkcaldy Fire Engine that "the real attack on the pile" began. Under the direction of Firemaster Rough, the roof was cut and a curtain of water was employed to keep the flames from spreading to adjoining villa (Aird Bank). The Fifeshire Advertiser further noted that "Captain French had earlier in the evening caused the removal of a large quantity of explosives from St Catherine's but continual minor explosions told of cartridges going off" and "the fire was visible over a wide area and attracted a great crowd."
While the fire was at its height, about 11pm, another alarm was raised - Fir Park was also in flames. The Fifeshire Advertiser noted "this outbreak took place in a northern room, presumably from the same cause. Happily, it was caught before the wind caught hold of the flames. All furniture was removed but the soldiers and firemen, pulling up the floor, soon got the mastery." The evening concluded thus: "St Catherine's fire virtually ate itself out. The bare walls were left when, at 1am, it could be said that the fire was under. St Andrews Fire Engine, drawn by two horses, arrived at about midnight; but the hose was not uncoupled."
Built in 1896, St Catherine's at the time of the fire was owned by the Misses Dickson (three of the daughters of Edinburgh master gun maker John Dickson) and consisted of three public rooms, six bedrooms plus kitchen, scullery, etc. It can be seen above with its twin pair to the left of St Margaret's and Mount Vernon. Fir Park was owned by postmistress Margaret Bremner. Damage at the gutted St Catherine's was estimated at £1500 while Fir Park's damage was around £50. Looking at St Catherine's today, it is easy to spot the parts of the original architecture that were lost. The red roof ridging and decorative eaves, seen on its counterparts, are absent (see below).
From around 1928 until 1955, the 'Golf View Hotel' on Station Road in Lundin Links (now Links Road) was run by the MacLean family. Originally built in 1907 for John George Gerrard, the building became the twin boarding houses of Linksfield and Roseneath before changing guise to the Golf View Hotel. The MacLeans came from Gairloch in Wester Ross originally and as well as running the hotel in Lundin Links for 27 years, had the Maitland Hotel on Shandwick Place in Edinburgh for a spell. One member of the hotel-keeping family, John MacLean, died tragically on 11 October 1943 when he drowned in Largo Bay, and was found on the shore at Lundin Links, aged 45. His sisters and brother continued in the business. Below are some adverts from the period.
After being advertised for sale or let in 1955, the building is barely mentioned until 1964, when it opened as an eventide home, having been purchased by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (more on that in the next post).
Below is the hotel in a wider view, with the 'flower gardens' (also known as 'Mrs Nisbet's Garden') in the foreground. Barbara Frances Nisbet (shown in the inset photograph) had a key role in the beautification of this area which was opposite her house, 'Beffens'.
The tennis courts couldn't be any busier in this circa 1930s view captured from a upper window of Ravenswood boarding house. Perhaps there was an organised tournament going on, as there are doubles matches in play on almost every court and other people waiting or the sidelines. Or perhaps it was always this busy during the heyday of the summer season! The players look very well turned out in their tennis whites. The bowling green (which was opened in 1905) is also being well used.
The close-up short below highlights how well-maintained the facilities are and clearly picks out the old tennis pavilion to the left of the courts. Note also the Gardener's Cottage of Homelands behind the pavilion on the left, partially obscured by trees. There is a greenhouse attached to this house and I imagine at this time the extensive gardens of Homelands would have been extremely well-kept and productive.
The black and white house in the right foreground above is what is now know as Peacehaven, at the junction of Links Road and Victoria Road in Lundin Links. However, at the time that the image above was captured, this building was newly built and comprised a pair of symmetrical villas known as 'Roseneath' (closest to camera) and 'Linksfield'. Built in 1907 for Edinburgh furrier, John George Gerrard, during their construction they were referred to as 'Mr Gerrard's Villas'.
Both were unoccupied at the time of the 1911 census, which took place on 2 April that year. Gerrard seems to have built the villas as an investment and they were let out, mainly in the summer months, initially. The advert below dates from 3 July 1915 (Scotsman) and shows Roseneath and Linksfield at the top of a list of houses for summer let. Note that Somerville the grocer acted as agent along with Post Office (Miss Bremner).
Further adverts below from 1912 and 1917 respectively (below) detail the number of rooms and the facilities available, while emphasising the good location of the houses - close to the station, beach and golf course.
John Gerrard died unexpectedly in 1916 while in Chester. Although his firm continued to manage the villas in the short term, they were soon sold to a Crieff businessman. By 1930, the building had changed guise to the 'Golf View Hotel' and by 1937 it was advertising an "extension" (see advert below from 10 April Scotsman).
In 1955 the owners of 27 years advertised the let of the Golf View Hotel (see Courier advert from 25 March below) and within a few years the hotel became the residential home that we know now.
Posted in 1936, the sender of this postcard was unable to take to the water like the subjects of the image. She writes in late August of that year...
"Having a good holiday but very quiet. Have played some golf and tennis but no bathing. The weather has been very good but today looks a bit broken at the moment."
Having a round or two of golf and doing a spot of sea-bathing were often the prime objectives of postcards writers holidaying in Lundin Links around that time. There are around 80 people enjoying the beach area on the day shown above! The Victoria Boarding House is visible left of centre in the background with the iron bridge over the railway line in front of it. The house to the right of centre is Norvil. The detail below shows a wooden shelter and an ice-cream van (similar to the one shown at the foot of this post) on the Massney Braes, as well as many people walking the footpath that ran parallel to the railway line.
This circa 1940 scene on the beach at Lundin Links shows the popularity of the place at that time. The beach is lined with many bathing huts (see in more detail below). The 1940-41 Valuation Roll lists no fewer than 27 bathing huts on this site. Owners included the proprietors of some of the village's boarding houses, as well as other residents of Lundin Links, Upper Largo, Leven, Methil, Buckhaven and further afield including Edinburgh. The Children's Home at Aithernie, run by Margaret Paxton also had a hut, which was no doubt well-used by the young residents of this establishment.
The huts were handily located above the shoreline and just a short stroll across the golf links to the train station. In the above image it looks like some of the beach goers are heading back up the sandy path to make the journey home. Do you recall beach huts at Lundin Links or know when they first appeared or finally disappeared? If so, please comment.
This view from the dunes at Lundin Links, looking to the rear of the Lundin Golf Club (on the left), and Station Road (on the right), probably dates to the late 1920s. The golf club house has been extended from its original form. The large house at the top right of the shot is Beffens and its neighbour to the right (The Gables) is yet to be erected. On the other side of Beffens is Westhall and then Manderlea (then a boarding house). The shop of Alex Patrick the golf club maker is in the centre of the picture - between the vintage cars and the railway line. The house and workshop of his brother David is just beyond Manderlea but situated on Golf Road.
Lindisfarne was another house built during the late 1890s feuing of the west of Lundin Links. This house followed soon after the completion of the first feu (Westhall). The large plot had been reserved in the name of 'Whyte' and occupied the easterly corner of Crescent Road and Station Road. This may have been John Whyte who retired from the farming of Lundin Mill Farm in 1896, however, he had moved to Cupar by 1898. A number of different families lived in the house in its early years.
Eventually the house was converted into a boarding house, with several rooms available, including a few on the attic floor. This was likely done in 1929, as the Fife Free Press of 4 May that year reported that Lindisfarne was to be taken over by "Mr and Mrs Mitchell, of the Lundin Golf Club, as a boarding house". The advert above dates from the 1930s and emphasises the proximity to the golf course. David Mitchell, familiarly known as "Biff", who was also clubmaster at Lundin Golf Club, died in 1935. Soon afterwards, Lindisfarne Boarding House was taken over by Mrs Janet Gillespie. During World War Two, Polish soldiers were billeted at Lindisfarne and Mrs Gillespie's daughter married one of them. Soon after the war, Lindisfarne ceased to be a boarding house and was later converted into two separate dwellings - the ground floor flat retaining the name of Lindisfarne, with access from Links Road (see photograph below). The upper floors comprised a second dwelling, with access from Crescent Road - named 'Glenartney'.
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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