The previous post covered the inter-war years at the Crusoe Hotel, ending with the period when the hotel was owned by the Dick family. In April 1947, Samuel Maxwell Nicoll was granted a hotel license for the Crusoe and became the next long-term owner. Sam was born in Glasgow in December 1916 and had been in the R.A.F. during the Second World War. He married Sheila Betty Beable, in 1942, in London and the couple went on to have two children. During his time at the Crusoe, Mr Nicoll was involved in the wider hotel trade, as a director of the Licensed Trade Association and a committee member of the Fife and Kinross division of the British Hotels and Restaurants Association. A feature of his era was the Juan Fernandez Cocktail Bar (shown below with its barrel, lanterns, clay pipes mounted behind the bar and rustic wooden panelling). At the time the 14-bedroom hotel, with dining room for 80 people, marketed itself as being modern yet retaining old-time character. Like the Lundin Links Hotel, the Crusoe Hotel bought into the concept of being located on the 'Scottish Riviera' and used the phrase in advertising in the 1950s.
In 1961, Sam Nicoll made some alterations to the hotel. Notably the arched doorway to the former cart shed and stables was replaced by a window and the backdoor entrance to the bar was blocked up. Meanwhile, inside, a number of modernisations took place to the ground floor bar and lounge areas. These included building up old fireplaces, removal of some partition walls, and the creation of new vestibules inside the front entrances (see plan above).
Shortly afterwards, in 1962, plans were set out for two garages to be added to the hotel, abutting the seawall. The plan below shows how these were arranged to fit in between the main building and an existing shed. The fact that the postcard image above shows the new windows fitted in 1961 but not the garage proposed in 1962, dates the image precisely to one of those two years.
It was around 1967 that the Nicolls stepped down at the Crusoe and Largo-born Crawford Horne and his wife Hazel took over. The plans below date to 1969 when a new fire exit stair was added, replacing one of the bedrooms, and changes were made on the ground level to office and reception areas. Note the lack of en-suite facilities at this time - one bathroom appears to have served all the many bedrooms.
Having trained at Edinburgh School of Cookery at Atholl Crescent, Crawford enjoyed creating unique dishes using local ingredients. Often his dishes had local names such as 'Saute Beef Montrave', 'Braised Duckling Balcormo' and 'Steak Selcraig'. Another innovation of his was the creation of the Man Friday Gourmet Club. Meeting around five times per year, dining club members were invited to a specially themed meal. However, as the 5 February 1975 East Fife Mail reported, the tantalising aspect was that the guests only saw the detailed menu once they arrived.
The Club proved to be very popular, attracting people from far and wide and gaining a membership of around 120. With only 40 places on offer each time, members had to reply to invitations quickly to secure a place. The 1974/1975 season included the themes of 'Food Through the Centuries', 'French-Style' and 'Roman Orgy'. The Latin-sounding menu for the latter is shown below, the highlight being suckling pig roasted over charcoal (see photograph). The food was presented theatrically and at this event guests sat on the floor eating food from wooden platters that had been dished up from large cauldrons.
Crawford Horne also became actively involved in promoting Fife as a destination. He can be seen in the photograph above with Duncan Dewar, Fife's assistant tourist officer, promoting Fife as 'Scotland's Holiday Kingdom' at a tourism event in Manchester in 1976 (25 February East Fife Mail). In the summer of the same year, the hotel and pier became a focal point for the 'Crusoe 300' celebrations. The ambitious 10-day event took place in Largo to mark the tercentenary of the birth of Alexander Selkirk (the Largo-born inspiration for the character Robinson Crusoe). The Crusoe Hotel's role included hosting the opening Barbecue and Dance, a Radio Forth Disco, a 'Bothy Night' after 'Its a Knockout' and a Gala Ball. Below is the Christmas offering from 1976 - all on a Caribbean theme.
Having established a reputation for creating new innovative dishes, the hotel won the British Tourism Authority commendation for its restaurant in 1977. The photograph (from East Fife Mail) below shows Crawford and Hazel receiving the plaque from Philip Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Tourist Authority, with Duncan Dewar, Fife Tourist Officer, looking on. Note in the images below the dark mustard-yellow coloured exterior paint, giving the hotel a distinctly 1970s style look.
Note in the two black and white photographs above, from the Canmore collection, the rustic outdoor seating area. The 1973 advert below echoes the 'fine-dining' reputation of the hotel, with the "famous Crusoe menus, seafood caught daily and superb wines". If you recall sampling the delights of the hotel's menus from this time, please leave a comment. In the next and final post in the series - a few selected highlights from the more recent decades of the hotel.