In the early 1920s, the Crusoe Hotel building approached its centenary looking more modern than before. Now with more bedrooms and varied catering options, including a tearoom, the once old-fashioned hostelry was enjoying popular appeal. The 'stables' that existed within the building in 1920 had become a 'garage' by 1925. This was also the heyday of entertainment at the pier pavilion. Both the pavilion and the hotel even featured several times in sketches and paintings by Scottish colourist George Leslie Hunter (see examples below).
In the book 'Hunter Revisited' by Bill Smith and Jill Marriner it is noted that: "The little town of Lower Largo provided another favoured painting ground for Hunter. This tiny stretch of the Fife shoreline - its cottages and large, square granary block (now part of the Crusoe Hotel) backing in to the sea, its sandy shore dotted with large outcrops of rock, its jetty and small harbour at the mouth of the Keil Burn and people enjoying the sea air - provided a constant source of challenge for Hunter." The painting above is 'Summer's Day, Lower Largo' dated 1921 which depicts a bustling beach scene.
The 1921 census lists 14 people in residence at the Crusoe Hotel on the night of 19 June. Proprietor, Howard Barnes Moss, his wife and eight-month old son, headed up the list, followed by three 'servants' (on-site members of staff). The hotel guests were a civil engineer, two tweed manufacturers with their spouses and children and a spinning mill manager. Three years later, in 1924, the Barnes-Moss family emigrated and the hotel was bought by Miss Marion Brown. She had run the Royal Hotel in Comrie with her sisters Jessie and Elizabeth for the previous seven years (St Andrews Citizen 19 April 1924). The Ayrshire-born sisters continued the recently-established tearoom element of the hotel.
However, in April 1926, the hotel was sold once again - this time to Robert Dick. He had been a joiner by trade but, owing to an injury in the First World War, he was unable continue in that profession. Having gained experience in the Victoria Inn in Lochgelly, he became owner of a public house on High Street, Innerleven, in 1924 at the age of 31. When he and his wife Margaret Guild and their children relocated to Largo two years later, a long period of unchanged ownership at the Crusoe began.
During Bob Dick's time at the hotel, he possessed Alexander Selkirk's gun. He made this available for handling, fascinating his guests. He managed to attract the attention of the national press several times over the years, regaling tales of the "exploits of the old mariner who made Largo famous". It would appear that much of his information came from a descendent of Selkirk's who was at the time residing in Lundin Links and also from an old acquaintance from Bob's days in the west of Fife, the late Dr Selkirk of Cowdenbeath.
The proprietor was also happy to tell of the building's history. He described the hotel as standing "solidly on the edge of the North Sea" where "wild winter gales" and "certain tides" would on occasion "whirl surging seas round it and leave it as an island". Its role "as a warehouse for distribution by sea of Fifeshire's potatoes and grain before the railway came out from Leven" was also celebrated. Bob Dick liked to speculate about how the original Robinson Crusoe might have found his establishment "a haven of comfort" and a "paradise". Certainly, locals and visitors of the time flocked to the hotel and pier. Scenes like the 1930s one below were a regular occurrence in high season.
A new facility added within the hotel building in the 1930s was a hairdressing salon, run by Miss Isabella Dick, the owner's daughter. The advert below dates to the 21 April 1936 Leven Advertiser and the salon can be seen in the postcard photographs further below - on the ground floor left hand side adjacent to the external stair case. One image shows the hotel before the addition of the pitched roof and the other was taken after this 1937 alteration (carried out to end problems with the flat roof leaking). In 1940 Isabella married assistant hotel manager John George McIntyre in the Crusoe Hotel. However, the family's time at the Crusoe was drawing to a close. In June 1944, Bob Dick purchased a semi-detached villa in Tayport. The hotel was advertised for sale at the end of the summer season 1945. It was described as a "desirable family and commercial hotel" with dining room, residents' lounge, large reception hall with ante-room, smoke room, private parlour and 13 bedrooms. In addition, there was a bar, beer cellar, garage for two cars and two vacant shops. In the next post - the Crusoe during the post-war era.