The previous five blog posts have charted the history of Lower Largo's Crusoe Hotel, from its 1824 origin as a granary to the more modern era of the 1970s. The years from the 1980s to the present day will remain fresh in many people's memories. If you have your own stories or photos that you would like to share, and add into the archive of the hotel's history, please do get in touch, either by commenting on this post or hitting the 'contact' link on the sidebar (or footer on mobile version of site).
The circa 1980 photograph of the hotel above shows the building returned to a creamy-white colour after its mustard-yellow 1970s incarnation. The newspaper photograph below shows the 'Flying off the Pier' event, which took place on 27 July 1980, with the hotel in the background. These events always drew huge crowds despite the fact that little actual 'flying' was achieved.
Nationally, the period 1980 to 1983 saw what was considered to be the most severe recession since the Second World War. So it was a challenge, in 1982, when the state of the pier became a concern. A 31 March 1982 East Fife Mail report stated that then Crusoe Hotel proprietor, Lockhart Bruce, owned the pier. Mr Bruce explained that the economic recession made it impossible to direct money to pier repairs. So discussions took place with the Community Council on potential ways to use the hotel to raise money for a pier fund. Repairs were carried out later that year.
The most significant alteration to the hotel building in recent decades was the extension added above and behind the seawall between the main building and the pier (see below). The photograph above was taken in 1989, the same year that then owner Bob Jurgensen submitted a planning application to the District Council for alterations and extension to the hotel. Permission was granted with some conditions (such as a requirement to use traditional materials in the build and to ensure that the façade of the existing building and the extension matched). The works were completed in 1991. The images below show the extension shortly after completion from the front and just over a decade later from the rear.
A couple of years after the hotel was extended, Bob Jurgensen decided to create a tourist information point and exhibition within the hotel. This was to mark 300 years since Alexander Selkirk went to sea in 1693. The exhibition consisted of six panels which outlined the life of Selkirk and highlighted other figures of interest such as Daniel Defoe and William Dampier. The exhibition space was designed to provide the ambience of the galley in which Selkirk sailed and there was originally even a hatch through which visitors could view his desert island.
The mid-1990s advert below for the hotel notes that it had recently featured on TV programme 'Wish You Were Here'. If you remember that - please comment. The advert draws heavily on the desert island theme. At this time the restaurant was named the 'Castaway Restaurant' while the 'Juan Fernandez Bar' continued alongside the 'Crusoe Bar'. The 'Man Friday's footprint' in the floor is also mentioned. Even with the extension, the total number of bedrooms (12) was fewer than it had been in the past, due to the fact that en-suite facilities had been introduced.
The photograph above shows the Crusoe Hotel fenced off while up for sale in the autumn of 2020, having been placed in administration. It was purchased by the present owners in the spring of 2021 and in the last couple of years, the hotel has been significantly renovated and refreshed. The images below show a selection of before and after images to provide a flavour of the most recent round of changes. The Crusoe Hotel has emerged looking fit for the future, while acknowledging its past (and of course retaining the Robinson Crusoe theme). As the building approaches its bicentenary next year, the story of the former granary looks set to continue for many years to come.