This set of four poignant colour photographs show Largo Station mid-demolition back around 1970/71 (can anyone put a precise date on this?). Many thanks to Russell McLaren for kindly sharing these images, which were taken by his father. The family lived overlooking the station and were regular users of the train service. The photographs are taken from Station Park looking towards the sea, with the original 1857 station building in the foreground (partially demolished) and the later 1894 building on the far platform. Prior to demolition, the buildings had been stripped of valuable materials such as the roof tiles. Having closed in 1965 (the final passenger service running on 5 September) the station had sat derelict for a few years. By 1968 discussions had begun on converting the Largo Station site into a car park, with a view to reducing congestion on Main Street. This eventually came to fruition and the car park remains in use to this day.
Below are a couple of images of Largo Station while still in use. Operational for more than a century, the station was once know for its well-kept gardens and attentive station masters - a great facility for locals and the start and end point of many a day trip and holiday. If you have memories or images of the station - please do get in touch. In the next post - details of the demolition of Lundin Links station.
Image above by Stuart Sellar (12 June 1960) - Sent to user by author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19047496
I adore this photograph, which was kindly shared by a reader of the blog. It features a smiling young girl, barefoot on the pier, enjoying a Largo summer in the late 1940s. Two very well-dressed ladies and a boy are sitting on the side of the pier. There are another eight or so people in the background - many of them ready for a dip in the sea. The tide is in and there is a rubber ring balancing on the wall.
The Crusoe Hotel, which would probably have been full of visitors, has its upper windows open to let in the sea air. I would love to be able to step into this scene and explore the village at that time. If that were possible, then I'm sure I'd be just as happy as the girl in the picture!
The crowded beach scene above is Lundin Links at Massney Braes. Back in the very early 1900s the village was a fashionable "rival to the established and flourishing watering holes of Elie and St Andrews". According to the Dundee Courier (25 June 1903) "the attractions of the neighbourhood continue to draw large numbers each year so that a little town of seaside villas has sprung up on the magnificent feuing ground of Lundin".
The attire worn by the beach-goers is similar to that worn in photos from a previous blog post at Seaview in Lower Largo - note the wide brimmed hats that children are wearing, the blouse and skirt combination favoured by the ladies and the popularity of smart hats and parasols. Although bigger and fancier hats would be worn in the evenings and for special occasions, the lady in the foreground with her back to the camera (see foot of post) is still wearing a pretty impressive piece of headgear for a day at the beach.
There are a few beach huts in the dunes to the right of the image. While some folks might have stored their belongings in their own hut, many seem to be at the beach with minimal 'stuff' - no chairs, rugs or picnics. Most were probably staying a stone's throw away at one of the many boarding houses or hotels. There would also have been a good choice of tearooms and places to find refreshment within a few minutes walk.
In the detailed image below, a row of little sand castles can be made out. There are a couple of people half buried in the sand towards the lower left hand corner. And a group of ladies are enjoying a chat in the centre foreground - I wonder what they were discussing!
To see more images of this beach from other eras - click 'Massney Braes' from the side menu.
The building at the right in the above photograph is 'Craigiebank' or 'Craigie Bank' in Lower Largo. The name is taken from the Craigie family that lived on the site during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Craigies were predominantly hand loom weavers and the plot that Craigie Bank was built upon was probably used as a bleaching green. The last of the family was weaver Janet Craigie, who died unmarried in 1881 at the age of 85. The informant of her death was neighbour and master joiner Andrew Blyth Masterton. The son of weaver George Masterton, by the age of 20 Andrew was a carpenter. It seems likely that Andrew Masterton was involved in the construction of Craigie Bank. He was its first owner and the Mastertons owned the property and others nearby for many decades.
Having married Margaret Thomson of Perthsire, Andrew Masterton's first child, Catherine, was born at 'Marine Villa' (the house immediately east of Craigie Bank) in 1873. By June of 1877, Craigie Bank was advertised for let (see 29 June Scotsman above), as was Marine Villa. So it would appear likely that Craigie Bank was built between 1873 and 1877.
In 1881 Andrew Masterton (then described as 'master joiner employing 2 men and 4 boys') was living at Craigie Bank with his wife Margaret and daughter Catherine. Ten years later the three were still recorded as living at Craigie Bank but Andrew was now noted as a 'retired joiner', aged 50. In the 1885 valuation roll Andrew was listed as proprietor of ten properties in Largo Parish - including the Belmont Hotel (perhaps he was involved in building that) and Westhall on Station Road in Lundin Links.
By 1901, all three plus Catherine's husband John Clayton and their infant daughter were at neighbouring 'Craigie Cottage', while Craigie Bank was unoccupied. At this time Andrew was described as 'formerly builder'. By 1911, Catherine and her family had moved to Fort WIlliam but parents Andrew and Margaret were still at 'Craigie Cottage'. Andrew died in 1913 and his widow became proprietor of his properties. In 1920 a number of the houses were advertised for sale (see below from 20 March Scotsman), including Craigie Bank.
Some time between 1885 and 1891, Craigie Bank became known as 'West Craigiebank' and 'East Craigiebank' (or Craigiebank No.1 and Craigiebank No.2). Perhaps the east side added as an extension to an original symmetrical house. It certainly looks like a possibility from the image below. Note also that the cottage listed as number 3 for sale above is 'The Anchorage' (the low house to the left of Craigiebank) which was let to Rev. Pulford of the Baptist Church for many years.
The splendidly-dressed group shown above (in the early 1900s) look all set for the beach, with their dog, model boats and buckets and spades. The group are standing outside what was then known as '1 Seaview'. This house is now 57 Main Street in Lower Largo. It's well-known nowadays for its ornate gates and porch, plus its distinctive garden sculpture 'Malagan' (added a decade ago). 'Seaview' originally comprised the row of terraced houses between the White Cottage corner and Bass House (see image below). These houses predate the former shops on the opposite side of the street by a couple of decades at least. In the early 1860s the owner of Seaview was retired gamekeeper Thomas Henderson.
Although the house has changed paint colour, had a few artistic additions and lost its metal railings, it can still be identified by the window layout and the pattern of stonework on the frontage. Who the beach goers in the old image are is unclear but it would seem likely that they were summer visitors rather than residents, given that they had this photograph made into a postcard and posted this copy off to Wales.
Back in September of 1970, an appeal was launched in Lower Largo to "save the village's 300-year-old pier" (30 Sep East Fife Mail). A weekend of festivities over 25-27 September saw the pier appeal fund £500 better off. A goatskin-clad "Robinson Crusoe" (Bill Archer, pictured below) arrived by boat and unfurled a parchment bearing the message:
"Dig deep into your purses; unlock your coffers and empty your money bags in the name of our cause - the salvation of this grand old pier. Enjoy yourselves generously for Largo! For me! signed R. Crusoe."
And the message hit home as the sum raised over two days was more than double what organisers had expected. Attractions included a display by the R.A.F. rescue helicopter from Leuchars, the coastguards and the Fife Fire Brigade. There were trips in local boats and portraits painted to order. A football match took place, a fancy dress ball was held and a competition was held to cross the Keil Burn over 40 yards of rope in the fastest time. The then pier owner Mr Maitland Makgill Crichton, who officially opened the weekend, recorded one of the best times in this event. Helped by excellent weather, more than 6,000 people attended the fun and games. An extract was read from the journal of Alexander Selkirk, dated April 1660:
"I worked excessively hard these three or four months to get my wall done and the 14th of April I closed it up."
Parallels were drawn between this memoir and the need to shore up the pier and attendees were warned that anyone leaving today with money still left in their pockets would be "ceremoniously thrown into the water from the pier."
One other stall that was there that day was a "Man Friday footprints stall", where folks could leave their footprints embedded in concrete blocks (see inset from the East Fife Mail piece). The plan behind this enterprise was that these prints would be used to line the perimeter of the pier when restoration work began. Do you think people would pay to leave their mark on a restored pier today? I would!
The image above by Valentine of Dundee was published in a 1946 tourist guide to Leven, Largo and Elie. Taken from an upper window of Elmwood boarding house in Lundin Links, the photograph showcases the putting green, tennis courts and football pitch. Note the worn grass around the goal mouth of the pitch - showing that it was well used. Also there is what appears to be a vendor (perhaps of ice-cream and other refreshments) set up between the three facilities wearing a long white apron. Largo Law can be seen in the distance but even more prominent is the bastion of trees at Fir Park.
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.
The open space between the north part of Victoria Road and the Lundin Sports Club / Homelands has long been known as "the Common". However, it was not always so. Before the expansion of Lundin Links the whole area was part of Sunnybraes Farm. Then it almost became entirely built-up under an un-executed plan devised by the Standard Life Assurance Company. Once the development of Lundin Links did finally take off, the grassy space was referred to as 'Homelands Park' - presumably just because of its proximity to the large house called 'Homelands'. The 1893 map above clearly shows the undeveloped space to the right of Homelands.
One of its key uses back then was as the official venue for local football matches. But it was used for lots of other events - many during the busy summer season. The clipping above details an end of season fireworks display at 'Homelands Park' (30 August 1900, Courier). Another typical example of an event held at this site was an "open-air market" in aid of the Largo W.R.I. in July 1924.
Around the turn of the century, Largo had a junior football team called 'Largo Crusoe'. The origins of the team are unclear, but most towns and villages had amateur teams at the time and Largo Crusoe featured in the East of Fife Juvenile Association by 1895. The team is regularly referenced in the local paper from that date onwards but went into abeyance for the Great War years. When the team was re-established after the war, it was given a new name - 'Largo Rovers'. The image below shows a range of newspaper reports about the Largo team from both before and after the First World War. Note the reference to "the Homelands supporters" in the lower left piece.
The regular football fixtures would soon by joined by other sporting pursuits. In 1903 discussions began on creating tennis and bowling facilities to the east of Homelands and on 28 July 1905 the official opening of both the tennis courts and the bowling green took place. At some point in the 1920s the name 'Homelands Park' began to be replaced with 'the Common'. It appears that around this time the ground was donated by the Gilmour family for community recreational purposes. The small newspaper clipping below is one of the earlier references to 'the Common' found in the archives (30 July 1927 Fife Free Press).
A putting green was added to the facilities by the 1930s. And on 20 December 1947 the Courier reported that "the 'common' in Lundin Links is to be developed as a recreational centre for the villages of Lundin Links, Upper Largo and Lower Largo." Although the report did not specify what the developments were at that time, it shows that the site has continued to evolve and develop over time. The play park with its swings and other play equipment have been around for decades. Although no longer a venue for regular junior league football matches, it is good to see this important community space being used for a range of sporting and social activities and continuing to evolve.
The above image of Largo Station is from the North British Railway Study Group's photographic collection. It is undated but looks to be from the inter-war period. The station masters during this era were William Simpson (circa 1902 to 1920), James Young (1920-29), Peter Low (1929-1935) and Alexander Thomson (1935-40). The detail below shows the Durham Hall (originally a school) in the left background and a carriage in the sidings.
Note also the advertising around the station. There is an advert for The Scotsman newspaper above the Largo sign, a Tennent's Lager sign on the fence and a poster for Ely Cathedral on the side of the station building. Ely Cathedral is in Cambridgeshire - I wonder whether any locals were inspired to go and visit it? And was there a poster for Largo put up somewhere down there?
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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