Cellar Brae or Cellar Braes is the promontory to the west of Lower Largo Harbour. The map above, which is dated 1843, is one of the few to clearly name the area. Below is a comparison of that map with a recent aerial view of the site. The general layout and many of the buildings remain the same, although some buildings have been lost. The large building closest to the sea has survived and is one of Largo's oldest. Now known as The Net House, pictured further below, this building began life as a salt girnel (store-house) for the adjacent salt works at Drummochy. Dating back to the 1740s, the girnel was a secure building where salt was drained and stored - an essential component of any salt works. Salt was an extremely valuable commodity at this time and a good quality, robust building was needed for secure storage. So, it is thanks to the original function and importance of the building that it has been able to stand the test of time.
With the decline of the salt industry locally in the late 18th century, the building's function had to evolve. For a time, it was used as a granary (separate from the granary on the other side of the harbour, now part of the Crusoe Hotel). The 1932 Largo Village Book states that historically "grain was stored for shipping" at Cellar Braes. However, by the late 19th century, and for many decades, the building and surrounding ground was used to store fishing gear and to dry nets (hence the building's present name of The Net House). There are a few images below that feature nets hung out to dry all around the area.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, salmon stake nets ran out to sea in front of the Net House (see image below). Throughout that time, valuation rolls show that the Cellar building and Lundin Salmon Fishings were owned by Lundin Estate. These facilities were tenanted initially by Andrew Greig Anderson, Edinburgh fishmonger, in the late 19th century and then by Joseph Johnston and Sons Limited of Montrose (a long-established salmon fishing business with interests the length of the east coast) in the early decades of the 20th century.
By the mid-1930s, Cellar Braes began to change into more of a recreational space. The Largo Parish Community Council rented the area and organised for benches and a shelter to be put in place for the comfort of those enjoying the views across the harbour. The old path which used to run around the seaward side of the Net House was re-routed to the landward side of the building. The old path route with its unguarded sea wall was not without its risks, as the 9 April 1935 Leven Advertiser piece below demonstrates. The man who fell over the edge onto the rocks was staying at 'Westhaven' - a house opposite Cellar Brae (see map further below). In the early 1970s, the now semi-derelict net house building was restored and converted into a private dwelling. The sea wall was heightened for safety.
As well as being the site of private homes, the Cellar Braes of today continues to offer benches, views and space to relax. The former shelter (seen on map and image above) is long gone but a patch of concrete indicates where this once was. This multi-functional corner of the village has a rich history. Featured in artworks and offering a fine viewing space for events at the harbour, it continues to be a characterful part of the Largo landscape.