In Part One of this series, on the history of the Crusoe Hotel, the origins of the building as a granary in the 1820s were covered, as well as the establishment of an inn. Early innkeepers included George Duff and Alexander Selkirk but it seems probable that James Gilchrist was the innkeeper to introduce the 'Crusoe Hotel' name to the establishment in the early 1870s. In 1881, former farmer John Forrester began his long run as hotelkeeper. Born in Newburn in 1820, to William Forrester and Jane Hodge, John was a farmer until the age of 60.
He had just completed a seven year lease at Auchendownie Farm prior to taking over the Crusoe Hotel. Perhaps it's no coincidence that a former agriculturalist should take over an inn within a granary building that he would have known well. Hotel-keeping offered an alternative occupation for his later years, as well as employment for his wife and children (some of whom would continue in hospitality for the rest of their lives). A number of changes to the building took place during Forrester's tenure. Looking at the pair of photographs above, there are several differences.
The top image dates to circa 1880 and the lower one to closer to 1900. As demand for granary storage space declined, but the need for visitor accommodation rose, the hotel expanded into the attic floor of the seaward end of the building. New larger dormer windows were created, a new slate roof put on and new chimney pots added. The hotel exterior was freshly painted and its sign spruced up. The later image features the 1888-constructed fishermen's bothy set into the wall by the pier as well as the 1894 station building (elevated to the left). The chimneys of the circa 1890 Edina View can been seen just about the Hotel roof.
The shift in use of the building from granary, to hotel and other leisure pursuits, didn't end there. In 1890 a 'smoking concert' or 'smoker' took place in the granary loft. In aid of the Lundin Golf Club building fund, this event saw a "bevy of ladies" convert the space into "a beautiful apartment decorated with flags and bannerettes, floral devices and trophies of clubs and cleeks". Over 150 visitors and residenters were present. The Dundee Courier of 26 August elaborated further and included an accompanying sketch (below) of the scene at Largo pier:
"For the first time in its existence, Largo indulged one night last week in the luxury of a "smoking concert." ...The old Crusoe Hotel was gaily decorated with flags, and the interior...was very prettily set out with floral decorations, mottoes, and lanterns.....It is fully expected that the proceeds from the concert will free the clubhouse from debt."
Such was the success of the event that it evolved into the "Annual Festival of the Lundin Golf Club" running over a few days in what was now being referred to as the "Hall of the Crusoe Hotel Buildings". The 1891 festival involved not only a smoking concert in the granary but also a 'children's frolic' for 200 youngsters and a dance for adults. The song below, composed by a golf club member, was sung at the concert. Note the people mentioned in the song include architect and regular visitor Peter Lyle Henderson (who did go on to become Captain of the Lundin Golf Club) and William Hearsey Salmon of Homelands, who was Captain of the Lundin Ladies Golf Club in 1891. The 'good old Crusoe' is honoured in the final verse.
The following year, 1892, the Crusoe was decorated with "Moorish Temple decorations" for the Golf Club Festival. Each evening's entertainment saw the railway viaduct "illuminated by lime lights". Large flags were supplied by Mr Clapperton of Edinburgh. A new golfing song had been composed by club poet Robert Johnstone. Again there was a concert, a children's frolic and a golfers' dance. The new song for '92 includes reference to "Crusoe's charming hall" and the "jolly golfers". The final verse, printed in the 1 September 1892 Fifeshire Journal, was as follows:
Now let all the wide world know
That the charms of Largo grow
Ev'ry year there are new "beauties" to behold;
Since our Ladies Links were made
There is quite a grand parade
Of our charmers, who at Golf can ne'er grow old
By 1893, the hall in the Crusoe Building, was referred to as the "Band Hall" because the Largo Brass Band had taken a lease there. Other tenants of the granary portion of the building were Thomas Buttercase (Potato Merchant) and Gordon the Poulterer from Leven. For the smoking concert in the Band Hall, once again a new golfing song was composed. The lyrics are shown below and once again feature Peter Lyle Henderson and the old Crusoe.
In 1896 John Forrester died after 15 years in charge at the Crusoe Hotel. By coincidence the innkeeper of the Railway Inn in the village had also died and both widows appeared before the licensing court to renew the licenses that had been in their husbands names. Just two years later, Largo Granary Company decided to sell rather than lease the hotel and the advert below appeared. The demand for granary facilities had clearly declined as the advert notes that "there is besides Large Halls which could easily be converted into additional Hotel accommodation or private Dwelling Houses".
No sale took place in time for the Whitsunday entry date and so Henry M. Ketchen (Secretary of the Largo Granary Company) had to apply for license renewal himself, with the promise that either a purchaser or a manager would be quickly found. Shortly afterwards John Harris, previously of the Galloway Inn, Markinch, became owner and license holder. More on his short time at the helm and the dawn of a new century, in the next instalment, where dispute, fire and war mark a turbulent spell for the hotel.