A short snippet below from the Largo St David's Parish Church Quarterly Magazine, June 1967, which describes a lovely gesture by the Largo Brownies on Easter Sunday that year.
A short snippet below from the Largo St David's Parish Church Quarterly Magazine, June 1967, which describes a lovely gesture by the Largo Brownies on Easter Sunday that year.
The Reverend David Malloch was born around 1824 to David Malloch and Margaret Ellis in Lanark. He lost his father as a child and was working for a living by the age of ten. The 1841 census finds David and his mother working at New Lanark Industrial Village and living at Caithness Row there (pictured below). David was described as a "cotton carder" and his mother as a "reeler".
However, by studying hard after work each day, David was able to secure a position as a teacher at Glasgow High School in 1845. And in the same year, he married Christina Orr who had also been living and working at New Lanark, as a cotton reeler. By the following year, David had his own small school - West Muir - in the Parkhead area of Glasgow. At the time of the 1851 census, the Mallochs were living near the school with their 5-year-old son William. Soon afterwards, David decided to "go in for the ministry" and entered Glasgow University to study towards this ambition. Upon completion of his studies he was appointed as a missionary in St. Michael's U.P. Church in Greenock (1 July 1896 Dundee Courier).
Following his time in Greenock and a spell "supplying pulpits" in Ireland, David received the call late in 1859 to the U.P. Church at Largo. The snippet below from the Fife Herald of 9 Feb 1860 details the process leading up to David's ordination at Largo on 13 March. At that time the church was £400 in debt so David "at once entered into the task of wiping this off". He was so well supported in this aim that it was achieved in under twelve months. The Courier of 1 July 1896 continues his story stating that...
"In the thirteenth year of his ministry, Mr Malloch had the pleasure of seeing the handsome church the U.P. congregation now worship in opened."
At a cost of £1,200 the new church replaced its century-old predecessor that had been built with the help of local people who had carried stone from the beach in barrows, creels and aprons. The stone plaque built into the front elevation bears the year of construction (1871) and the initials of David Malloch (D.M.) - see below.
Rev. Malloch must have seen many things during his thirty six years as pastor at Largo, overseeing hundreds of christenings, marriages and funerals and witnessing many community events - both celebratory and tragic. In 1886, when the boat "The Brothers" was lost, along with seven local men, Rev. Malloch opened a subscription list and succeeded in raising £500 for the benefit of bereaved widows and families.
David Malloch's last significant public appearance was at the opening of the Lundin Golf Club House on 4 April 1896 "when he led off the refrain 'He's a Jolly Good Fellow' when Mr Gilmour's health was proposed". He preached his last sermon on 3 May 1896 and died on 29 June at the manse. He was survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter (although the Mallochs had at least seven children in total).
The St Andrews Citizen on 4 July described his "genial buoyant spirits" and the fact that he was "conspicuous throughout the parish by his locks and shaven face, which seemed to savour more of art than the pulpit". Also noted was that "he never conducted a service in his church without remembering in his prayers those who went out into the deep in ships" - making him a "special favourite" of the fisher folk.
A wall plaque was placed on the wall inside the church to his memory which read:
"For 36 years (he) went out and in among them, speaking words in season to the weary and comforting the afflicted, while his Christian qualities and generous sympathies won for him the esteem and reverence of his flock and of all who knew him."
The photograph above shows the house originally built as the U.P. Manse on Woodlands Road in Lundin Links. This substantial house, built from local stone, dates back to 1851 when it replaced the old manse at 21-23 Main Street in Lower Largo. The Fife Herald of 9 October that year reported on the laying of its foundation stone (see below). The newspaper piece also provides some context to the new build. The congregation had experienced a difficult spell "during a protracted vacancy" and now were grateful to have Reverend Thomas Sommerville in post. Sommerville had come to Largo from Bankfoot in Perthshire. In addition to the provision of a new manse, in November of 1851 the "ladies connected with the United Presbyterian Church...presented the Rev. Mr Sommerville with a very handsome pulpit gown and cassock, together with a few volumes of books...in testimony of their respect and esteem for him as their pastor" (13 Nov Fife Herald). Moreover, in May of the following year the same paper reported that the U.P. congregation had "lately considerably improved the interior of their place of worship, by re-seating it in a more comfortable and commodious manner".
The mid 1850s map below (with the manse right in the centre) shows that when first built, the house had generous grounds. At that time, the only other buildings on Woodlands Road were those at the far west on the north side. There was no development on the south side of the street. The railway line was not in situ at the time of the manse's completion but it would not have been long before the Sommerville family witnessed the construction of the line from their windows.
Once the railway opened, Woodlands Road (then referred to by locals as 'Back Braes') was used as a short cut to get to Largo Station, walking over the viaduct. The railway fully and officially opened on 11 August 1857. By this time Rev. Sommerville was already in poor health and on 1 September that year he died aged 48 at the manse. Tragically, his youngest son was less than a month old at the time of his death. He and his wife also had several other young children. His widow, Isabella Fyfe, must have been able to remain in residence at the manse for some time after her husband's death, as on 14 March 1858, her seven month son also died there.
In the meantime, the congregation appointed a newly qualified young minister - Rev. David Hay - who did not live in the manse. However, within a year Rev. Hay had died from tuberculosis - passing away in St Andrews at the age of 27 on 9 April 1859. The young people of the church arranged for a large marble tombstone to be erected at his resting place in St Andrews Burying Ground. Later that year (on 29 October) the Fife Herald noted that the congregation of around 180 had "been supplied with a succession of preachers" but were "without a settled minister". However, that was all about to change.
Late in 1859, David Malloch was called to Largo from a position in Greenock. On 13 March 1860 he was "ordained to the pastoral charge" of the U.P. congregation. The 22 March Fife Herald noted that he was the ninth minister of the church, noting that although "one laboured among them 22 years, and another 38 years, the pastorate of many of them was short and some of them only a few months". David Malloch remained in post and in residence at the manse (with wife Christina and their children) until his death in 1896 and during his tenure the new 1871 church building replaced the old church.
Early in 1897, Rev. George R. Atkinson succeeded Rev. Malloch and remained in post until 1919 (during which spell the church became a United Free Church). From 1919 until 1925 Rev. George A. Charlton was minister and resident of the manse. He was followed by Rev. J. Stewart Rough (1926-1932), Rev. David A. Dick (1933-1947), Rev. John Graham (1948-1956), Rev. George Watt (1956-1963), Rev. Angus H. Haddow (1963-71), Rev Thomas J. Dyer (1972-1979) and Rev. James Mackenzie (1979-1987). Upon the retirement of Rev. Mackenzie, the house was sold by the Church of Scotland, ending its long period serving as a manse.
Another significant local event which took place in 1970 was the 'Largo Festival of Drama and Flowers' featuring a pageant on Largo's story. Held in the manse garden in Upper Largo, a large cast of local actors, dressed in period costume, re-enacted some key episodes connected to the church's history. Characters featured included King James III, Sir Andrew Wood, Sir Patrick Spens, Sir Alexander Durham and Alexander Selcraig (and his parents John and Euphan).
The photograph below, from the 8 July 1970 East Fife Mail, features a few of the cast, from left to right: George Penrice (as Sir Andrew Wood), Andrew Gilmour (as King James III), Dorothy Brazenall (as the Queen) and Anne Stewart (as Queen's attendant). Largo Kirk can be seen in the background. Church members put many hours into organising the festival, rehearsing, making costumes, baking and setting up stalls. Their reward was hundreds of visitors over three days, 4th to 6th July. The pageant was written and produced by Lewis Cochrane. Many local groups contributed including the Lundie Drama Group, Cupar Operatic Society, the Buckhaven High School choir and orchestra, the Kinghorn Singers and players from New Gilston. A special visit from the Royal Scots Grey's Military and Pipes and Drums Bands on the Monday brought back memories for minister Rev. Douglas Lister, who was a former band member.
The 'Festival of Flowers' element of the occasion, held within the church, was directed by Mrs Mary Scott of Elie with input from Leven Floral Art Club and Lady Gilmour. Teas were provided in a large marquee on the front lawn and meals were served at "The Stables" (in use for the first time, having been newly converted from manse outbuildings, stables and barn). All in all £620 was raised by the series of events.
Many thanks to Alistair Bryden for sharing the interesting story of how Largo St David's Church came to have the fine oak panelling seen in the above image. His father Ewan Bryden was for many years an Elder with the Church and also Clerk to the Managers. This meant that he was responsible for the maintenance of the building. In his professional life, he was an executive of major engineering firm 'Henry Balfour and Company' of Leven. Around this time (1950s) the chairman of the firm was Mr W. Lindsay Burns who resided at 'Linburn' on Leven Road, Lundin Links. Ewan Bryden wrote the following in his memoirs...
Mr Burns (the chairman) of Balfour's wanted a prestigious Board Room. It so happened that at that time we heard that a country house in the Black Isle was being demolished and a large quantity of oak panelling would be available. We at once sent a lorry up with a team from the joiners and pattern makers to get as much panelling as possible. There was sufficient to panel all the Board Room and the adjacent dining room. There was some panelling left over and I was able to obtain this to panel the vestibule of St David's Parish Church where I happened to be an Elder and Clerk to the Managers"
It would seem that the house in question was Rosehaugh on the Avoch estate. Its contents were auctioned off in 1954 ahead of its demolition in 1959 (see advert below from 14 Aug 1954 St Andrews Citizen). Rosehaugh House is also shown below.
Ewan Bryden was also responsible for the the construction and installation of the light above the pulpit and the replacement of the stone belfry on the south gable of the building with a metal 'belfry' on the north gable - both fabricated by Balfour's. A routine inspection had revealed that the stone belfry had deteriorated and was in danger of collapsing. Below are four further images of the interior of St David's Church, featuring the panelling, light and belfry.
With many thanks to Alistair Bryden for the information and John Ross for the images of Largo St David's Church.
On 22 May 1964, Peacehaven care home opened. The former boarding house and hotel was acquired by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church after a six year search for a suitable building in pleasant surroundings for older folk. As the Leven Mail reported under the headline "Eventide Home Opened at Lundin Links", the church had opened its first home in Scotland in 1958, in Edinburgh. However, the building had been over four floors and was felt to be far from ideal. A long search within the Edinburgh area for an alternative property proved fruitless. Then, a site at Bridge of Allan was acquired. However, it was concluded that the cost of making that building fit for purpose would be prohibitive.
Eventually, an estate agent in Edinburgh sent details to the church of the Golf View Hotel building in Lundin Links. It was decided that a visit should be made. The former hotel was found to be a most suitable site, so negotiations began on the purchase, which was concluded late in 1963. Mr Colin Wilson, the secretary/treasurer of the British Adventist Missions Limited said that:
"It was a most delightful building then - like a little bit of heaven - but during the past few months a tremendous amount of work has been done and it is now looking very beautiful."
Councillor John Adamson of Fife County Council (a resident of Lundin Links) was present at the opening event (shown standing, second from right in the photo) . He noted that the council ran six eventide homes themselves, stating that they "spared no expense to ensure that these old people who had borne the brunt two world wars, and were responsible to a great extent for the country's prosperity today, should have every chance to enjoy their old age as a reward."
Mr Adamson went on to say that he "hoped they would have as much pleasure in the village as he himself had done" as he "couldn't think of a lovelier spot on earth". The name 'Peacehaven' was thought to be "very apt as that was just what the village was". He concluded that Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo were three communities with "their own distinct personalities but they had one thing in common and that was a warm heart".
The previous post included a view of Largo Cemetery, north of Upper Largo. Back in the mid-19th century this was referred to as the 'new cemetery'. The original one was the graveyard that surrounds Largo Kirk. In January 1857, a ratepayer wrote to the Fife Herald noting that the Parochial Board had stated that "it is imperitive by a recent Act of Parliament that they should have a new burying ground, the present one being too near the village". This correspondent was complaining about a lack of public consultation on the matter.
The new cemetery opened in 1859 and, according to the Dictionary of Scottish Architects, involved the architect George Birrell (son of Hugh Birrell a builder architect based in Drumeldrie). A decade later, the 11 February 1869 Fife Herald reported that "previous to securing of a new cemetery here, few parishes were more in want of such a place as Largo. Its locality is everyway well-fitted for sepulchre, and although it has only been opened a few years, numerous monumental stones have been erected within its walls, and the keeping of this "silent city" is admirably gone about".
Again the following year, this time in the Fifeshire Advertiser of 4 June 1870, the 'new' cemetery was praised...
"The new cemetery set apart for the "city of the dead" for this rural parish is well kept, and within these few years, it has assumed a very imposing appearance. Many attractive monuments now stud its surface. The ground is tastefully and substantially enclosed by a wall; and the site being to the north of the village and under the shadow of Largo Law, its seculsion well adapts it for a last resting place for the departed."
This type of article was repeated over the years in local papers - always referring to how well kept the grounds were. By 1880, it was necessary to plan an extension. Once more, in 1896, the site - still known as the new cemetery - had plans drawn up for enlargement. Moving forward to 1928, and on 26 January, the Courier noted that several draft plans had been submitted to Largo Parish Council by Mr Dewar, architect, Leven, for a significant extension. Work was delayed by 'unfavourable weather' over the 1928/9 winter. In the Spring of 1929, Mr James McIntosh of Windygates agreed to carry out the work. On 5 September 1929, the Parish Council suggested that upon the completion of the extension, and in view of the extra work that the larger site would entail, a full-time cemetery keeper should be appointed rather than the pre-existing part-time arrangement.
The cemetery remains today much as it was in the past, with its quiet and picturesque setting, interesting array of monuments, stone walls and towering monkey puzzle tree. Originally imported from Chile, this prickly coniferous evergreen tree was traditionally used in cemeteries and graveyards as the dark evergreen contrasts with the headstones. The fossilised remains of similar trees was the source of jet which became popular in Victorian times as jewellery as a symbol of mourning.
The above images show the main street in Upper Largo, perhaps c1940, with the motor garage prominent on the left hand side. Built around 1843 as Upper Largo Free Church, the building was converted into a bus garage in 1933 by David Ramage. The bus garage evolved into a car garage and the advert below from 1955 shows it still going strong 20 years later.
Around 1960, the garage was taken over by Jimmy Purves and in 1965 a series of alterations were made. The work included demolition of the neighbouring dwelling house that adjoined the main road (shown to the right of the garage in the top images); a new tarmac area and boundary wall, new fascias, removal of existing shop front; alterations to various windows and doors; the re-siting of the petrol pumps away from the road-side; and new tanks, pipes and access for tankers. The images below are from plans drawn up at that time.
Just before going on to look at the "new" Lundin Mill Primary School building...a step back to the origins of the old building. The image below of Giffordtown Village Hall below has just come to my attention today. This looks to be an exact replica of the Lundin Mill School (now library) in its original form. Except, its actually the other way round, as the village hall in Giffordtown, between Ladybank and Collessie in Fife, was built in 1843 as 'Collessie Free Church'. It was sited at Giffordtown, as it was to serve Kettle as well as Collessie. This was fourteen years before the school in Lundin Mill was built. See the sketch and the image of the school further below and compare and contrast. There's very little difference. So, why was Giffordtown Church used as a template for the school in Lundin Mill?
The architects that worked on the development of the Lundin Estate with the Standard Life Assurance Company were James Campbell Walker and John Milne. Walker was born in Strathmiglo, 5 miles away from Giffordtown in 1821. He was a practising architect by 1842. John MIlne is recorded in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects as having carried out improvements at Collessie Free Church Manse in 1858...
I suspect that one or both men were involved in the original building of Collessie Free Church and re-used the design at Lundin Mill....and possibly elsewhere. It was not uncommon to find this 'recycling' with school buildings either then or now. The present 1974 school in Lundin Links also has 'twins' at other locations. Anyway, all of this accounts for why the original 1857/8 version of the Lundin Mill School looked so church-like in appearance!
Small image of school above taken from 'Largo - An Illustrated History' by Eunson and Band (2000)
The above engraving illustrates Largo Kirk around 1840. Note that most roofs are thatched and roads are unsurfaced. Perhaps the variety of animals shown is for artistic effect but nevertheless the presence of livestock out in the open was probably common. It's safe to assume that such features would be found all around the villages of Upper Largo, Lower Largo and Lundin Links. The area around the old mill and the weavers' cottages at Lundin Mill would surely have been just as atmospheric. And still around 1870 there were thatched roofs present - for example at Drummochy.
Engraving involves cutting grooves into a hard surface and can be used for printing images on paper. This highly skilled technique was largely overtaken by the advent of photography but it provides a wonderful glimpse into the pre-photography era. Today, the Kirk and the area surrounding it retains much of its old world charm even without the thatched roofs and wandering animals. However, I'm sure that the streets are not exactly conducive to re-cycling lorries and such aspects of modern life.
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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