A topic covered before, but worth revisiting, is the intricately designed house by James Campbell Walker shown above. It is Bourtree Brae House on Crescent Road in Lundin Links. It is now fairly well disguised with its large extension to the right and porch around the front door, however, many of the original features still remain. Lots of information about the building of this house is included in the 1868 book entitled "Villa and Cottage Architecture: Select Examples of Country and Suburban Residences Recently Erected" published by Blackie & Son. Below are the relevant pages from the book. It's fascinating detail on what was one of the few houses built under the stalled Standard Life development scheme of the late 1850s.
According to A.S. Cunningham's 1907 book 'Upper Largo, Lower Largo, Lundin Links and Newburn', New Gilston was built around 1700 and owes its existence to coal mining. Its 'coal works' are mentioned in the 1773 advert in the Caledonian Mercury (below) advertising the lands for sale. Historic Environment Scotland consider it to be a 'planned village', The 1854 map below clearly shows its linear layout and fairly uniform plots. It also shows that some of buildings are ruinous by this time. Clearly marked on the map are the village smithy and the school. There is also a coal pit situated to the north of village (there were few others not much further away). And there were many quarries in the area. The 1845 Statistical Account on Scotland specifically mentions that "to the north of New Gilston a singular mass of rum coal is found, under the mass of overlying trap to the south. It is an inflammable bituminous shale, and is extensively used for lime burning. It is known to be eighty feet deep, and is wrought in an open quarry."
Situated to the north of Largo Law, New Gilston is credited as being the highest inhabited place in Fife. It is well-documented that the name of the village has fluctuated over the years - for example:
The 1841 census data for the village shows that the majority of adult males in the village were employed either as agricultural labourers or as coal miners (with a small number of hand loom weavers and carters and a couple of blacksmiths and stone masons). At that time the village had had a school for a number of years - a subscription school having begun in 1832 (see advert below from the 1 November Fife Herald that year.
Some of the buildings shown in the circa 1900 postcard above still survive to this day. But many are long gone, replaced by more modern homes. One of the most dramatic events in the history of New Gilston took place in 1953 - more on that in the next post.
A view looking east along Upper Largo's Main Street, taken from alongside the Upper Largo Hotel (on the right). The hotel was known as 'The Largo Hotel' at this time - as can just be made out on the nice piece of vintage signage advertising McEwan's shown in detail below. The hotel has a long history and has had a few name changes over the decades.
Opposite the hotel, on the far left above, is the garage which was once owned by David Ramage and then by Jimmy Purves. This image must have been captured not long before the house next to the garage (with 'no parking' daubed on the wall) was demolished and alterations were made to the garage. The building housing the garage was built around 1843 and was originally the Free Church.
The 1920s painting above is "Cottages at Largo" by the Scottish colourist George Leslie Hunter. It is owned by Perth and Kinross Council and resides at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery. Although the title is vague, it clearly features 'Dunkirk Cottages' in Mill Wynd, Lundin Links. The recent photograph above of the same view shows that, a century on, the structure of the main building has not really altered. However, the buildings to the right in the painting have now gone. They were part of 'Paradise Place', which was demolished in the 1960s.
Dunkirk Cottages (also known as Dunkirk Place or simply Dunkirk) date back to 1720 and would originally have had a thatched roof. It can be seen below from a different angle, with 'Paradise' to the left). George Leslie Hunter captured many similar scenes of cottages in Fife, as he spent a significant period of his later life in the county. He was also a prolific painter of Lower Largo (the pier, beach, viaduct, etc). He died in Glasgow in 1931.
Johnston Wright Swan was born in 1859 in Edinburgh - the son of Janet Wright and George Swan (baker and refreshment room owner). In the 1881 the family were at 'John Knox Coffee House' on Canongate (Royal Mile). A few years beforehand the establishment had caused some controversy when it was reported that "a vandal of a coffee-house keeper who has taken a portion of the house facing the Tron Church has, in glaring black letters on a white ground, painted "John Knox's Coffee House." (The Graphic, 19 Aug 1876).
Aged 21 by the time of the 1881 census, Johnston - the eldest in the family - was a pastry baker at his father's bakehouse, while 15-year-old brother George was a junior baker there. Following the death of George senior, early in 1887 at Sugar House Close off the Royal Mile, Johnston and George junior took over the family business interests between them. Johnston married Mary Brown Wright later the same year, in Dumfries. In 1891, the pair and their two daughters (Janet and Mary) were living in East Adam Street.
By 1901, Johnston was described as a 'cook and confectioner' at the 'University Hotel' on Chambers Street. The entries above from the 1902 Post Office Directory show the brothers' various establishments in the capital. Throughout this period, over many years, Johnston was competing in prestigious bakery competitions including the "Scottish section" of the annual "Bakers' and Confectioners' Exhibition" at the Agricultural Hall in London. An example of the many newspaper accounts of Swan's success is shown below (from 9 Sept 1909 Scotsman).
The 1911 census found the family living in Priorwood House - a Georgian country house in Lasswade, while running multiple business premises in Edinburgh. In 1913 daughter Mary Wright Swan married Hugh Percival (Inspector of the Poor in Largo) and they lived at East Rose Villa in Lundin Links. Once their daughter was firmly settled in Lundin Links and the once the Swans had sold a number of their business interests in Edinburgh, Johnston and Mary Swan also moved to the village.
They ran the Victoria Boarding House in Lundin Links from circa 1923. At that time it incorporated a bake house. Then around 1928 they purchased Bellville on Emsdorf Street and soon set up the shop in the front of this house. It would seem that the bakery element of their Lundin Links business interests shifted from Victoria Road to Emsdorf Street and the boarding house was styled more as a hotel. The hospitality at Swan's Victoria Hotel must have been quite something - with a baker/confectioner/cook/restaurateur at the helm. And his talents did not end there, for Mr Swan was also a musician. The article below from the 4 Feb 1928 Courier tells of him entertaining as a one-man band!
The advert below advertises the Emsdorf Street bakers and highlights Mr Swan's fine baking pedigree of more than forty gold and silver medals and cups, as well as giving special mention to the wedding cakes for which he won so many of these prizes. There must be folks out there whose forebears celebrated their marriage with a Swan's cake - how wonderful it would be to see a photograph of one! How fortunate the people of 1920s Lundin Links were to have a baker in the village so experienced in 'fancy cakes'.
By 1935 Mr and Mrs Swan had moved back to Edinburgh and he had presumably retired. Johnston Wright Swan died on 2 Dec 1943 at Spring Gardens, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh at the age of 84. The registration of his death shows the informant as Hugh Percival - his son-in-law and also the registrar of Largo Parish (then residing at Crawford Cottage in Lundin Links).
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.
Very exciting news today!
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have released a huge number of newly digitised photographs that were taken around rural Scotland in the 1970s. The images were originally gathered by The Scottish Countryside Commission, many during a survey of C-listed buildings. The full collection is available to view at canmore.org.uk. There are many of Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo. Full details of the release here:
Permission has been granted for specially downloaded watermarked versions of the images to be displayed on blogs, so this will be a fantastic resource for this site to tap into. The images will no doubt pose questions and inspire new lines of research. Here is a small selection of the local scenes that particularly caught my attention (downloaded according to the guidelines and with watermarks displayed under each)...
Above are some of the Leven Road shops in Lundin Links while below are:
Loads more to see on-line - enjoy!
William Moscrip was born in 1883 in Edinburgh to parents originally from Selkirkshire. His mother died while he was an infant and his joiner father remarried. By the age of 17 he was working as an insurance clerk in the capital. However, his career path changed to engineering and he found employment with Edinburgh constructional engineers 'Redpath, Brown and Co'. In 1915, he moved to Leven to take charge of the 'National Steel Foundry' at Kirkland. Under his direction, the firm navigated its way through some difficult years and found prosperity. Upon his death the Dundee Evening Telegraph put this down to "his energy, his efficient business methods and a sound practical knowledge".
In 1926, Moscrip had a villa erected in the expanding village of Lundin Links, on the west edge of Leven Road. The house was 'Duddingston House' (see image), built to a design by Leven-based architect Andrew Haxton (also responsible for the Troxy cinema in Leven). On 2 June, the Leven Mail reported, under the headline "Creeping Westwards", that...
"We are glad to see mallet and chisel are kept engaged in Lundin Links. Another fine villa is in course of erection at the west end for Mr Moscrip, one more step towards Leven. We wonder when Leven will begin to reciprocate by a building boom from Scoonie."
In fact, around the same time, Haxton also designed 'Stanely', slightly further west on the other side of Leven Road for Victor Donaldson, Leven timber merchant. It is not dissimilar in style to Duddingston House.
Moscrip (pictured above) had many interests outside of his work. He loved music and was responsible for the revival of the Leven Town Band, which he led for many years. Also a keen sportsman, he particularly enjoyed football and became involved with East Fife Football Club, first as a director and then as chairman between 1930 and 1937. He even became an executive of the S.F.A.. Golf was another pastime and he was a committee member at Lundin Golf Club.
William Moscrip died on 10 March 1937, from complications resulting from a cold, caught after attending a performance by the Leven Amateur Musical Association. The illness affected his heart and he passed away at Duddingston House aged 52. He was survived by his wife Mary. Moscrip was succeeded at the National Steel Foundry by Robert Hamilton, who resided at 'Haworth' (also on Leven Road in Lundin Links).
The above circa 1900 postcard image was taken next to the Keil Burn, on the east side of the road bridge on Largo Road (the stretch of road once referred to as The Wynd). The four-storey building on the left is 'Millburnlea', occupied around this time by a shoemaker and a joiner, with shop fronts at street level. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the main road was Bridge House, where Christina Young's newsagent and stationery shop was situated prior to its move to Emsdorf Street.
'Burnside' and the sluice gate for the old flour mill have been covered in a previous post. The bridge dates back to the late eighteenth century when the turnpike road system reached Lundin Mill. By the 1930s there were calls for the widening of the narrow and out of date structure. This issue was under consideration for some time, before icy conditions in the winter of 1935/36 led to renewed demands from both residents and visiting motorists. By late March 1936 the advert below had appeared in local paper calling for the submission of tenders to carry out the works.
By 27 June, the Fife Free Press reported that "after years of patient waiting, work has at last begun on the much needed scheme of improvement at the narrow bridge at Lundie Mill....for years past this has been a trap to all classes of road users, motorists and pedestrians alike. It is surprising that there have not been more accidents at this spot....One of the most unsatisfactory features was the complete absence of footpaths." This article continued by noting the leading role of Councillor Christopher Gatherum of Upper Largo - who had "pegged away at the question for years". Although ultimately the change was not as significant as had been hoped for, the road was widened by about two feet and a four foot pathway added on the west side. Improvements were complete by late August - but not without incident - as the snippet below from the 4 July Fife Free Press from 1936 illustrates!
This aerial view of the Lundin Links Hotel appears to date from the 1950s when the place was advertised as the 'Scottish Riviera' (see adverts below from the same era). When the hotel first opened in 1900 there was no need to cater for cars - the hotel had separate stabling. The gardens made way for driveways and a car park, which seem newly re-surfaced in the image. There were a number of improvements made to the hotel after the Second World War.
At the top of the main photograph is the wooded area known as 'Fir Park', with Largo Road curving round its edge. In the lower left corner some of the south side of Emsdorf Street can be seen, including the flat roof of the hardware shop. The building in the lower right corner (and the long garden behind it) once hosted a coach-builder, as described in a previous post:
Next to the hotel was a coach-builder's business run by Willie Dick and son. There was a pend for carriages to go through and a workshop at the bottom of the garden. Esther Menzies recalled...
"It was a fascinating place to be sent to. There were wheels all over and upended gigs and such like with the shafts up in the air. He also sharpened lawn mowers and knives. Next to this were two cottages or maybe one and a byre. There wasn't much difference. Two old women stayed there. Maggie Drummond sold sweets which were displayed in her window on a table....when you were in the shop or room and looked along the passage you could see the cows flicking their tails. The Seaway is there now."
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".