Today marks exactly a decade since the first post was published on this blog. The initial post was very short and featured the image which is still used as the main banner for the website (shown below). This photograph remains a firm favourite as it presents such a familiar view and yet there is much in the detail that differs from the same scene today. Cars are absent, so people can casually use the unsurfaced road. There's a sense of incomplete development, with no houses yet built on the section of road between Crescent Road and Victoria Road. The block of shops awaits it completion with spaces for fireplaces and cupboards at the ready.
The image also poses questions. What is being delivered by the young woman on the left? Who is the man with his back to the camera (who may be carrying a tripod - a photographer's assistant)? Are the cycling women off to play golf? What did the old Lundin Mill locals make of these large villas and the fancy new hotel? This blog has been fuelled by similar images and such questions, in a quest to better understand how we used to live.
Thank you to everyone that has joined the Vintage Lundin Links and Largo journey - especially those who have been readers since the early days, those who have made contact to offer memories and images, those who have spread the word and those who have generally offered encouragement. To celebrate, this month will offer a bit of a retrospective on some notable local characters, historic images, stories and events. Listed below are ten people (or groups of people) who have inspired blog posts that I have really enjoyed writing. Presented in no particular order, this is just a small selection of the many admirable local characters who have gone before us. You can find about more Largo folks by selecting the 'people' category from the blog category list on the side menu.
1. James Methven
Jumpin' Jimmy Methven was born in in Lundin Mill in 1831 into a large family of weavers, He reached the ripe old age of 91 but in his younger days was a famed athlete who travelled widely to local games winning prizes for running, jumping, throwing and vaulting. Incredibly, Jimmy would travel all over the lowlands on foot in order to participate. Walking huge distances must have been worth the effort, judging by the number of medals and cash prizes that he won. Full blog can be read here: lundinlinks.weebly.com/blog/jumpin-jimmy-methven
2. Margaret Bethune
It's often the local doctors who are remembered long after their deaths. However, for women in the past, who often had many children, it must have been their midwife who lived long in the memory. For more than three decades, Margaret Bethune answered the call of women in labour across Largo parish, whatever the time or the weather. Not only that but she meticulously recorded her deliveries, starting before official records became compulsory. She left a fascinating resource which provides a midwife's perspective on local births. Full blog here: lundinlinks.weebly.com/blog/margaret-bethune
3. Evelyn Baxter and Leonora Rintoul
While both impressive people in their own right, Baxter and Rintoul were a force to be reckoned with as a duo. Still referred to as "the good ladies" in the world of ornithology, where their work remains influential today. They were knowledgeable on many topics aside from birds, giving talks and demonstrations far and wide as part of their roles in the Scottish Women's Rural Institute. Hard-working and practical individuals, these ladies wartime efforts are also well remembered, when they mobilised work parties to support agricultural activity such as potato planting and flax harvesting. Read more on Evelyn Baxter and Leonora Rintoul.
4. Doctor Goodsir
One of the most documented Largo lives of the 18th century is that of Dr John Goodsir. Not only was he in medical practice for 46 years, travelling far and wide on horseback, but he was also preacher at Largo's Baptist Church. The house he once lived in at the Orry still bears his name - read more here: lundinlinks.weebly.com/blog/dr-john-goodsir-largo-surgeon
5. The Artistic Ballingalls
Many artists have been inspired to capture scenes of Largo over the years but one local surname stands out for having multiple artists from the one family capturing the area in days gone by (long before the days of colour photography). From engraver William to painters John and Alexander, the talent among the Ballingall family was remarkable. The fact that their father William was also a highly regarded amateur astronomer only adds to the allure.
6. The Paxton Family
The legacy of the Paxton family is still prominent in Lundin Links today in the shape of Homelands Accessible Self-Catering Holiday Accommodation and the Paxton Centre. Each member of this family was remarkable in their own right and you can read about Robert, Jessie, Margaret and Isabel in a series of blog posts. The original Homelands building was one of the earliest villas built on Leven Road shortly after the arrival of the railway in 1857.
7. Largo Fishermen and their families
For centuries there have been fishermen operating out of Largo harbour and at the height of the era of the deep sea fishing boats there were upwards to twenty such vessels. Some fishermen, like Thomas Lawrie, lived long lives, while others lost their lives at sea in their prime, undertaking their hazardous occupation. One of Largo's darkest days was when fishing vessel The Brothers was lost with all hands. The brave and hardy fishermen of Largo deserve to be remembered, as do the families that supported them and waited patiently for their loved ones to return home time after time. Clicking on the 'Fishing' category will take you to all the blogs on this topic - lundinlinks.weebly.com/blog/category/fishing
8. Isabella Lawrie (nee Sime)
The history of Largo is packed with strong and resourceful women. Their stories are often hidden behind the lives of their husbands, fathers and sons but when you look closely, they are of equal interest. Among them are many examples of women who found themselves widowed suddenly, with children to support. Seeking out whatever opportunities they could, these women set up as dress makers. landladies, sack makers, net guarders and various other occupations which could be done from home. A prime example is Isabella Lawrie (mother of Thomas mentioned above). Her husband James was lost at sea in 1865 leaving her with several young children to support. She lived for almost another half a century, working for much of that time as a washerwoman. More information on her can be found here.
9. Ebenezer Coutts
The further back in history you explore, the harder it is to unearth fine detail on an individual's life, as records become more sparse and photographs non-existent. However, for a more prominent member of society, it can be possible to piece together a picture of the person and the life they led. One example was Ebenezer Coutts who lived between 1744 and 1822 and was overseer at the Drummochy salt works, an intriguing part of Largo's history.
10. Thomas Graham Wishart
Largo has had its fair share of inventive and resourceful people over the years and a great example of such as person is Thomas Graham Wishart. Showing a flair for engineering from his teenage years, Thomas developed many strings to his bow. Motor engines and cycles were a speciality but he also fitted electric bell systems, invented a wringer attachment to assist with laundry and installed an innovative electric lighting system at Largo Curling Pond. Read more about him here.
Thank you for joining the journey so far. Watch this space for many more tales of vintage Lundin Links and Largo.