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.
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.
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).
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.
150 years have passed since Lundin Golf Club was founded in the Lundin Mill Hotel - read more about that HERE.
Long-serving Lundin Mill school teacher, David Milne Stewart, had a son of the same name, who not only followed his father into the teaching profession but also shared his father's love of golf. David junior was the youngest of four sons and was born in 1886 in the Lundin Mill school house. Introduced to golf at a young age, he joined Lundin Links Golf Club at the age of 17 and four years later (1907) won the first of his nine club championships. He was also a nine times winner of the Lundin silver medal.
David (known as "D.M.") attended Edinburgh University - gaining an M.A. in 1906 and a B.Sc. in 1908. At the time of the 1911 census he was teaching in Greenock. He became Science Master at Moray House and was a member of Duddingston Golf Club - winning prizes there also. He set a course record at Pitlochry during the Highland competition in 1913. His teaching career meant that he was limited to participating in competitions which took part during school holidays. However, both golf and teaching had to be put completely on hold with the outbreak of World War One.
D.M. joined McCrae’s Battalion (16th Royal Scots) on 4 Jan 1915 at Edinburgh. After some months in the Royal Scots he was transferred to the Royal Engineers (chemist section) and was promoted to Corporal. This move was a response to the use of chlorine gas by the Germans. Special Companies of technically skilled men, under Major C.H. Foulkes of the Royal Engineers, were formed to deal with the new weapon. Nos 186 and 187 Special Companies were formed first, in July 1915, followed by 188 and 189 Companies in August. D.M. was part of the former group. All of the men were given the rank of Chemist Corporal. The Great War was the first in which chemical weapons were deployed.
On 20 December 1917 David married fellow teacher Helen Rutherford Wilson Campbell at Darling's Hotel on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh (see image below), while on leave from active service. Soon after his marriage, D.M. was wounded in action. He received a gun shot to the left elbow in France and ultimately was discharged from service on 11 July 1918 aged 31, receiving the silver war badge on 31 August 1918 (issued to those honourably discharged due to injury or illness). Eventually he was able to return to both teaching and golf.
Despite the injury affecting his swing, it was not too long before D.M. returned to form on the golf course. Between 1922 and 1932 he was a semi-finalist in the Eden tournament at St Andrews four times and topped the qualifiers once (playing for Lundin Links Golf Club). The images at foot of the post show him in action in 1922 and in 1929 (he is on the right in the 1929 photo). Also a member of Kirkcaldy Golf Club, D.M. won the club championship many times there and set a course record in 1932 by shooting 64. He became club Captain in 1940 and the following year a vice-president. Lundin Links Golf Club made him an honorary member of their club around this time. In 1946-48, he was vice president of the Fife Golfing Association.
In terms of his post-war teaching career, Stewart became head science master at Royal High School in Edinburgh in 1919. But in 1923 he returned to Fife, when appointed Principal Teacher of Science at Kirkcaldy High School. He remained in post until 1939, when he was selected as headmaster of Queen Anne Higher Grade School in Dunfermline - a position he retained until his retirement in 1951. By this time his health was failing. D.M. passed away at his home (49 Balwearie Road, Kirkcaldy) on 7 August 1952 at the age of 65. The Fife Free Press reported this two days later under the headline "Noted Golfer's Death".....
"Mr Stewart was one of the most outstanding and popular golfing figures ever to be associated with Kirckaldy Golf Club, but his profession and recreation did not begin Kirkcaldy. He was born in Lundin Links. It was his father, a school teacher at Lundin Links, who helped found the golf course there....D.M. was soon introduced to the golf course....[his] profession took him over a wide area. His reputation was enhanced at Golspie, Edinburgh and Dunfermline. "
He was survived by his wife and two daughters. He will be remembered - along with many other prominent local golfers - during the 150th anniversary celebrations at the Lundin Golf Club this year.
Images from 12 Aug 1922 Dundee Courier and 16 Aug 1929 Dundee Courier
A past Captain of both Lundin Golf Club and Lundin Ladies Golf Club, Johnny Laidlay was a renowned Scottish amateur golfer, who was born at Seacliff House in East Lothian (see inset image) on 5 November 1860 to parents John Watson Laidlay and Ellen Hope. His Glasgow-born father was a merchant whose wider family owned extensive indigo plantations in Bengal (indigo being a source of blue dye). Johnny was the youngest son and attended Loretto school in Musselburgh - learning golf on the historic links there.
He soon became a prominent amateur golfer, playing out of North Berwick, and was either runner-up or winner in five out of six British Amateur Championships between 1888 and 1893. On 9 January 1889 he married Jane Eileen Redmayne in Ambleside, Cumbria. Their son John was born there the following year. In 1891 the family moved to Scotland and took a long lease on Strathairly House (shown below) in the Parish of Largo.
On 5 June 1891, Mrs Laidlay opened the Lundin Ladies Golf Course (situated at that time between the railway line and the villas of Homelands, Haworth and Aithernie). Among the "large and select gathering of ladies and gentlemen" present were Mr and Mrs Hearsay Salmon of Homelands. The Hearsay Salmons also had a history in Bengal and its likely that they were long acquainted with the Laidlays. Mrs Laidlay "drove off the first ball" and six all-female couples competed in an open competition to win a gold bangle (first prize) or a club and balls (second prize) (Scotsman 9 June).
While living at Strathairly, the Laidlays had two more children - Richard Ernest in 1892 and Eileen Faith in 1895. Sadly, Richard died there at the age of 15 months. During their time at Strathairly, Johnny became Captain of both the Lundin Ladies Club and the Lundin Golf Club. General Briggs (from whom Laidlay rented Strathairly) had been 1893 Lundin Captain. Johnny succeeded him and remained Captain until 1896. Laidlay's Captaincy covered the period when the new club house at Lundin was built and officially opened.
In 1896, the family left Strathairly and took a five year lease on Grangemuir House, north of Pittenweem. The Dundee Courier noted that "Largo people will be slow to part with one who has done much to brighten the social life of the place, but the fact that he is still in the county is gratifying". While living at Grangemuir, the couple had another child, Robert Anthony (in 1897) but he too passed away in infancy. Johnny became involved with Elie Golf Club and was Captain there in 1897.
Laidlay had memberships at many clubs over the years, including St Andrews and Muirfield. North Berwick Golf Club was particularly special to him, however, and around 1898 he commissioned the building of a ten-bed roomed mansion house overlooking the 8th fairway of the club's west links. Named 'Invereil House' this was his base for many years until he relocated to Sunningdale in Berkshire after World War One. He named his home there "Auldhame" after part of East Lothian that neighbours Seacliffe (and which was once also part of his father's estate). He passed away there on 15 July 1940 at the age of 80.
Interestingly, in 1894 in an interview in "The Golfer" Laidlay was asked if he approved of constant practice...to which he answered: "For myself, I never practise. For instance this year I have only played three times since the first of May and I don't think it would be any better for me if I played more. Golf can be overdone." As a player, he had some idiosyncrasies - for example, he finished his strokes with a characteristic throw forward from the body and he had a marked stoop over his ball when putting (see images below).
Whilst these traits didn't catch on, the overlapping grip first used by Johnny Laidlay certainly did. Later popularised by Harry Vardon, this grip is now used by around 90% of golfers around the world. At the time of Johnny Laidlay's death the newspapers described him as "a stalwart of the "gutty" ball age", "one of the most famous Scottish amateur golfers", "originator of the overlapping grip" and "a master of the cleek". They noted that he won more than 150 medals during his competitive days and "retained much of his golf skill later in life." Wouldn't it have been great to see Laidlay's strongly individual style in action on Lundin Links?
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!
There is no in-built search facility on this site. To search for content, go to Google and type your search words followed by "lundin weebly".