The silver vesta case shown in the image above was one of the prizes given for the competition played on the newly opened Lundin Ladies' Golf Course on Tuesday 12 June 1894. This was the not the course we know today incorporating the Standin' Stanes but the one at Sunnybraes (now part of the main Lundin Golf Club). The piece from the 22 June East of Fife Record below describes the event in some detail, as does the Fife Free Press article from 16 June further below.
The reverse of the vesta case (made by Sampson Mordan and Co of London) is shown below. It is engraved with the words 'Lundin Links Ladies Golf Club June 11 1894' (although the competition appears to have taken place the day after this). It was won by James Wilkie of Leven. James Wilkie was a master builder (like his father George Wilkie before him). Between them, father and son were responsible for many notable landmarks in the area. George was involved in the building of the original Bawbee Bridge at Leven as a young man and James was builder of Linwood Hall. James is pictured at the foot of this post with his wife Mary on the occasion of their diamond wedding in 1938 (2 July Fife Free Press). He died the following year at the age of 85.
As Halloween approaches - a couple of appropriate local tales from the past....
Bats have long been associated with Halloween. They are, of course, nocturnal creatures. They leave their daytime roosts when the sun sets. Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' suggests that vampires are able to morph into bats (a small number of bat species worldwide are blood feeders). A more natural association with Halloween is related to the bat life cycle. They can swarm in the months of September to November as they look for mates and increase food intake ahead of hibernation. Below is a local bat-related story featured in the 17 March 1868 Northern Warder. On this occasion, bats were coming to the end of their hibernation period at Balcruvie Castle - now known better as Pitcruvie Castle .
Moving forward in time to the 10 November 1943 Leven Mail (below) - a war-time Halloween party provided Polish visitors with a taste of some of the Scottish traditions associated with the celebration - including a bit of a dunking in water it would seem!
The above postcard image shows the Lundin Ladies Golf Club House on the left and the Greenkeeper's House on the right. The latter was built in 1911, the year after the official opening of the course. The Club House had of course been moved to its present position in late 1909 from its original site at the main Lundin Golf Club (where it was first constructed in 1897). The image pre-dates the upheaval of the Second World War when the War Cabinet instructed that portions of golf courses had to be leased to increase food production. By special arrangement, the Ladies Club gave up more than its quota (two thirds of its area) so that the main Lundin course could remain intact. The much reduced course comprised six holes with the added feature of some grazing sheep (which both supported food production and kept the grass short at at time when there was little fuel for green keeping).
During this period the greenkeeper was Jimmie Imrie who worked for thirty years for the club from the mid 1920s. When he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service full-time in 1941, his father Robert Imrie took over green keeping, while Mrs Imrie looked after the club house and the role of starter. Robert had been manager to George Bell at Lundin Mill Farm. When Jimmie returned to post after the war, he set about the restoration of the course, including re-seeding and the re-laying out of the lost greens, tees and bunkers. As the book published for the club's centenary by Alan Elliot said of Mr Imrie:
"He was an excellent worker, conscientious and thorough. When it is realised that he put the course back from its wartime ploughing to its former state almost single-handed, it may give some idea of what he did. He worked with the minimum of equipment....a spade, a shovel, a barrow, a roller, an elderly tractor and mowers of great age: an awesome lot of effort. He achieved much in a remarkably short time after the war, and overall he provided the club with a course again when it mattered most."
The full course was officially re-opened on 22 July 1948 with the event shown below (advert from Leven Mail) which was both a competition and a green keeper's benefit (in recognition of Imrie's huge efforts). A similar event (for the both the benefit of the green keeper and for course improvements) was repeated the following few years. Jimmie Imrie left the post of green keeper in 1956 and died in 1985 aged 79. Eddie Wilson was green keeper in the late 1950s and between 1960 and 1978 Andrew Latto carried out the role.
The above photograph shows the 42nd Fife (1st Largo) Scout Group circa 1960 in the Scout Hall on North Feus, Upper Largo. All sections of the Group are included in the picture (Cubs, Scouts and Rovers) as well as leaders. According to the 'Largo Village Book' by Leonora Rintoul (1932):
"In the early days of the Boy Scout movement, a troop was formed in Largo, and went on very successfully for a considerable number of years. In the Great War it was found impossible to get a Scout Master and so the troop was allowed to lapse. With the return of peace it was revived, and is now a flourishing body under the leadership of Scoutmaster Kay."
The origins of the Scouting movement as a whole can be traced back to 1907, when Robert Baden Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in Dorset to test out some of the ideas in his 'Scouting for Boys' book. The book was originally intended to be a training aid for existing organisations but it quickly became the handbook of a new movement. Scout patrols were rapidly set up all over the country. A patrol was formed in Leven late in 1908 (see 5 December St Andrews Citizen article below).
When Baden-Powell formally set up the Boy Scouts Association in 1910 it had over 100,000 participants. In March 1910 there were 650 Boy Scouts on the register of the Fife Association and the number was expected to double within twelve months (26 March 1910 St Andrews Citizen). A key figure in the beginning of Scouting in Largo was Major George James Lumsden who lived at Aithernie House (now the Old Manor Hotel). In his obituary (Fife Herald 23 Sept 1953), following his death aged 88 at Cupar, stated that "while resident at Lundin Links, Major Lumsden began a long connection with the Boy Scout movement that culminated in his receiving in 1938 the highest honour the Scouts can bestow, that of Silver Wolf. He was chairman in 1910 of the committee that formed the first troop of Scouts [there]."
As well as having its own troop, Largo became a popular place for Scout troops from other areas to come and visit and to set up camp. However, when the First World War came, not only did Largo Scouts go into abeyance but all scout camps were prohibited throughout Fife (12 June 1915 Fife Advertiser).
Despite stories in the early part of the war of Scouts assisting the Coast Guard in watching the coast, collecting money for various war funds and acting as test patients for the Red Cross, the regular troop meetings couldn't continue with leaders absent. However, Largo Scouts were re-established after the war ended and by the 1920s the newspapers ran stories of the their activities including running cake and candy stalls, celebrating Burns Night, giving concerts and of course taking part in Remembrance services. An innovative "comic dog show" was held in 1930 at Durham Hall. Local dogs such as 'Paddy', 'Rover' and 'Spotty' competed in categories such as 'most handsome dog', 'dog with the longest tail' and 'dog with the most "soulful eyes"'! In 1935 the older Scouts set the bonfire on Largo Law that was part of a chain of beacons to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V. The Sale of Work advertised below dates to August 1950 (Fifeshire Advertiser).
The Largo Scouts base was the old schoolroom on the east side of North Feus, Upper Largo. The school had moved to new premises further up the same street in 1879 (where it remains to this day). The old school had been taken over by the Largo Field Naturalists' Society (established 1863) soon after the school's relocation, as a base for the society and to house their museum. When the Montrave Hall was opened in Lundin Links in 1910, the Society moved their museum to an annex there. The Field Naturalists continued to own the North Feus hall but let this to the Largo Scouts for many decades.
Below is the programme from a 1962 Scout fund-raising show called "Laughter United". Many of the boys pictured in the photograph at the beginning of this post likely took part. Perhaps you remember this show or other Scout events over the years? If so, please comment.
Many thanks to Russell McLaren for kindly sharing the photograph and programme.
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.
Following on from the demise of Largo Station, let's look at the final days of Lundin Links Station. The demolition of the station buildings at Lundin Links can be accurately dated thanks to a preserved paper trail. On 26 November 1971, the Fife County Council Master of Works acknowledged receipt of an application from Lundin Golf Club to demolish the station buildings (see below). The site of the station was adjacent to the golf course and some time after closure of the railway line, the Club purchased the disused site.
The application appears to have been acted upon swiftly, as the note below dated 1 December states that the station buildings have been demolished and that the levelling of the site is underway.
So after a spell of lying derelict, the station buildings were removed and the whole station site absorbed into the golf course. The location where the station buildings stood is now a course maintenance area, alongside the 17th fairway, adjacent to Links Road. For images of the station after closure but before demolition please click here and also here. Below is a photograph of the part of Links Road (once known as Station Road) where the station once was. Memories of the station or its demolition would be very welcome - please comment or get in touch through the 'contact' link.
Back in the mid-nineteenth century, when golf was growing in popularity and new clubs were being established in the area, one man's name seemed to crop up in the context of several local clubs. He was Nicol Baird Malcolm - a farmer from Dubbieside (Innerleven). Even many years after his death, he gets a special mention as the "ever-famous Nicol Malcolm" in the 22 July 1899 St Andrews Citizen (see below), in the context of the role he played helping in the setting up of Lundin Golf Club, back in 1868. His life story is an interesting one and is interwoven with other local characters.
Nicol's parents, John Malcolm and Janet Glass were married on 2 February 1793 in Edinburgh. John was a gardener at Broughton Loan (an area north east of Edinburgh city centre which was then filled with plant nurseries). Janet was the daughter of a shoemaker and lived in nearby Canonmills. Their daughters Christina and Isabella were born circa 1793 and 1799 respectively. By the time their son Nicol was born, on 24 May 1801, the family were living in the Parish of Scoonie. John Malcolm continued to work as a gardener around the Leven area into the 1840s.
In 1819 Nicol’s elder sister Christina married Alexander Patrick, a linen weaver of Scoonie Parish. They had a son – John Patrick. John eventually became a cabinet maker in Leven and married Agnes Murdoch Patrick c1840. They had at least eight children. On 9 November 1866, John Patrick (who was Nicol Malcolm's nephew) died in a cholera outbreak (see Dundee Advertiser of 10 Nov 1866 below) but before that he had diversified into golf club making. John’s business (and the family home) was at 3-4 Branch Street at Leven’s Shorehead. It was the low building shown on the left in the sepia image below. The building still exists today as a take-away pizza outlet.
John’s eldest son Alex Patrick had joined him in the club making business, before the fatal cholera outbreak, and he went on to continue making golf clubs for the rest of his working life. Alex had shops in Leven and at Lundin Golf Club. Alex’s younger brother Nicol (named after his great-uncle) had become an apprentice golf club maker by the age of 17 in 1871. Youngest brother David Murdoch Patrick also eventually became a golf club maker. He was based in Lundin Links (after a spell as greenkeeper at Royal Wimbledon Golf Club) and a had a house and workshop built on Golf Road around 1896.
So, while Nicol Malcolm appears to have had no family of his own, he had many great nieces and nephews – three of whom were golf club makers. He also seems to have been connected to another John Patrick - the pioneering local photographer - who had a studio in Leven, before he moved to Kirkcaldy and then Edinburgh. Nicol Malcolm married later in life, aged 43. He married widow Ann Christian Gray (nee Wetherspoon) on 2 August 1844. Ann was recorded at Nicol’s Dubbieside residence in the 1841 census – three years before their marriage. Her first husband – John Gray the Cupar ironmonger – had died aged 39 in 1837.
Nicol was a farmer at Dubbieside and had a dairy there. At the time of the 1851 census Nicol’s widowed sister Christina had joined Nicol and Ann (acting as house keeper). In 1861 the three – Nicol (still a farmer), Ann and Christina were still residing together at an address described as ‘Innerleven Cottage’. And in 1871, the household comprised: Nicol ('farmer employing 1 man and 1 boy'), Ann, Ann’s son from her first marriage (William Gray ironmonger) and a servant (Anne Dryburgh). By 1881, Nicol has passed away but Ann continued to reside at ‘Dubbyside Street’ – now with a niece and nephew (Anne and Edward Gray) and servant Mary Brown. Ann was described as an ‘annuitant’.
The valuation rolls also provide an insight into Nicol’s interests. In the 1855 valuation roll he is named against 4 subjects: he is proprietor occupier of a house and garden in Dubbieside and proprietor of another house and garden. In addition he is tenant occupier of both a land holding and the ‘Links of Methil’ – the land owner being James Hay Erskine Wemyss. By 1865, the situation was much the same with Nicol owning two houses with gardens plus a stable and byre – as well as being tenant of ‘Innerleven Acres and Links of Methil’. Golf had been played on these links for a long time. As tenant of the links, and an enthusiast of the game, it is not surprising that one of the nine holes of the golf course at Dubbieside was named ‘Nicol Malcolm’. He was also a member of Leven Curling Club and he hosted other sporting events on Methil links such as 'gymnastic games' in 1874.
In the 1875 census, Nicol Malcolm was still proprietor of the two houses but no longer the tenant of the acres and links – these were now rented to John Lawrie, farmer from Kirkland. Now aged 74, it seems that Nicol had retired. The newspaper archives are full of references to Nicol Malcolm – mainly in the context of golf. He was a member of at least three local clubs – all founded during his adult lifetime: Innerleven (Dubbieside) (1820), Leven Golfing Club (1846) and Wemyss Castle (1857) plus he had a hand in the setting up of Lundin Golf Club in 1868. As well as mentions in connection with agriculture and cattle markets, Nicol was noted in the press for his gardening skills (clearly taking after his father).
Nicol died on 1st March 1881 aged 79 years, having had a full and active life. His wife Ann passed in 1886 in Edinburgh aged 76. However, the legend of Nicol Malcolm lived on after his death - for example in the clip from the 16 Sep 1899 St Andrews Citizen below - which recalls the time that he challenged a man to a round of golf playing with a bottle rather than a club! If you know more about Nicol, please comment. There is also reportedly at least one photograph of him in existence - if you know of its whereabouts, please do get in touch.
This sketch appeared in the Dundee Evening Telegraph on 5 May 1903. However, I suspect the sketch was done perhaps around a decade before that date, as there is no development on the south side of Crescent Road. It likely dates to a similar era to the photograph in an earlier post - click here.
The article that accompanies the sketch describes how the "Leven and Lundin Links are held on lease by the three local clubs - Innerleven, Thistle, and Lundin - the proprietors being Sir John Gilmour, Bart. of Lundin and Montrave, and Mr R.M. Christie of Durie. The three clubs have equal right to the privileges of the course, and a Committee of two from each Club constitute the Board of Management, with the indefatigable worker on behalf of Thistle, Mr J.T. Ireland as Secretary."
The piece goes on to describe each hole on the course, as it was then, by name and in some detail (a topic for a future post). A visitor could buy a monthly ticket for 6s. The course record was 74 - held by David Kinnell. Memberships were 200 for Innerleven, 500 for Lundin and 650 for Thistle (1350 total). It's also noted that "a two-inch waterpipe runs the whole length of the course, and the greens are not allowed to starve for want of refreshing moisture. Three men are constantly employed on the links."
The houses shown in the background of the image are accurately drawn. From left to right these are: 'Fir Park'/'Braddan' (now 5-7 Crescent Road); 'Elphinstone'; 'Melville Cottage' (now Old Calabar); School and Schoolhouse; 'Bayview Cottage' (now Oldfield) and 'Murree Lodge' (now Glenairlie - No.23). Interestingly, the latter house looks quite different today. The sketch shows a much smaller, symmetrical home. Since then Glenairlie has been significantly extended to the left. The stretch of Crescent Road shown dates back to the years immediately following the opening of the railway (and the stalled attempt to expand the village by then owners Standard Life Assurance Company). These houses were once referred to locally as "The Cottages".
The open ground upon which the golfers are practising would soon be developed - with a road constructed alongside the new house named 'Norvil' (see here for a later image of the same area). The 'fashionable' nature of the village and the building of proper services and infrastructure meant that the expansion of Lundin Links really took off in the years that followed.
The scene above of Lundin Golf Course dates to circa 1900. There are a number of distinctive golfers in the photograph, including a young caddie on the left of the group of three and a well-dressed chap further left who appears to have brought his dog with him. The slim golf bags contain far fewer clubs than today and everyone is sporting hats and jackets.
The background is no less interesting. Lundin Links train station is in the centre, complete with a steaming engine pulling a number of carriages. The blown-up image below flags a few points of interest:
1. Aithernie - shown as a private house prior to the extension added in 1906 (this is now the Old Manor Hotel)
2. Steam engine at station platform
3. Original station building - before the addition of a second station building shortly afterwards
4. Haworth Cottage (adjacent to Leven Road)
5. Gardens of Haworth (main house) and Homelands (both obscured by trees)
The slightly later photograph further below shows both the extension to Aithernie and the second station building, plus Haworth can be seen through the trees. The sloping land between features 4 and 5 would eventually be filled by the houses and gardens of the west part of Links Road.
Golfers, day trippers and summer visitors were important users of Lundin Links station. There was also a small amount of freight traffic. According to 'The Leven & East of Fife Railway' by Hajducki, Jodeluk and Simpson, this consisted:
"...largely of inward traffic of coal from the Fife Coal company and the Wemyss Coal Co. through merchants such as Thomson & Small and an outward traffic of potatoes from merchants such as John A.D. Steins and Isaac Poad & Sons Led. Until World War I there was a regular traffic in horses and horse-drawn carriages destined for the large houses in the village. Other traders who used the small goods yard in the years before the World War I included D.M. Patrick, golf club and golf ball manufacturers, and W.Dick coach builders."
The house of David Murdoch Patrick can be seen in the very top image (house with triple apex roof towards the right hand side above the bunker). This was the only house on Golf Road at that point. Today it is gaining a new neighbour (see below).
Another quick look back at summer events from the past. The above advert dates back half a century! Back in 1968, the 'Largo Fair' took place and it included many traditional activities - pony rides, fancy dress parade and beetle drive among them. Clearly, folks of all ages were catered for from the youngest to the oldest (note the offer of rest at the manse in between events). The 725th anniversary of the Largo and Newburn Parish Church provided the impetus for this occasion.
Meanwhile, a mere 25 years ago, 'Largo Festival '93' was a collective effort by an impressive list of local groups and businesses (see below). This particular year was the third of the Largo Festival in this format. In fact, it evolved from the 'flying off the pier' event which was a forerunner to it (click here for an image of that). The 1993 programme included a beach barbecue, sandcastle competition, a display of vintage cars, art exhibition, car treasure hunt, fun run, skittles night, cricket tournament, quiz night, race night, evening of music, football match, jazz night, patchwork exhibition, car boot sale and an afternoon of 'frolics' on the pier (boat trips, raft race, assault course, stalls and live music). The photographs at the end of the post provide a flavour of the festivities.
Images: East Fife Mail
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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