Can you spot the boat hiding in the photograph above? The image features the oldest of the buildings of Largo's former mill complex by the viaduct. The building with the brick chimney housed the gasworks, forge and cooperage. If you look closely at the trees on the left-hand side, obscured by foliage is the line fishing boat Jane, with its registration 940 KY just visible. For a short time, registrations of 2nd class boats such as this one were displayed with the port of registration after the number. The Jane belonged to William Ballingall who had a daughter named Jane born in 1869.
William Ballingall was born in Largo in 1847. He was already described as a fisherman in the census of 1861, aged fourteen years old, while living at the Temple. On 6 October 1867 he married Isabella Gillies, with Reverend David Malloch officiating. William was a fisherman and the fathers of both he and Isabella, John Ballingall and Alexander Gillies, were both also fishermen. Their daughter Jane was born in 1869, followed in 1873 by Margaret (who died aged 14 months), Annie in 1877 and Isabella in 1880 (who died aged ten months).
In June 1882, the couple had a son, John, however later the same year, Isabella died of tuberculosis, leaving William with three young children. Sadly, in 1883, aged just ten months, baby John died too. William was remarried in 1888 to Eliza Tivendale in Edinburgh. She was the daughter of Lundin Mill shoemaker Alexander Tivendale. The couple went on to have two sons, Alexander and William.
The fishing boat Jane appears on 'The Scottish Fishermen's Nautical Almanac and Tide Tables for 1889' but is absent from the 1901 edition. Willam did however have another vessel listed in the 1901 almanac, named the Tidy (KY 1830). Tidy was smaller than the Jane and may have been the boat in use when WIlliam, along with John Ballingall and John Gillies discovered a wrecked fishing boat in 1896. It was 24 February that year when a drowning accident took place in Largo Bay. The 28 February East of Fife Record below reported on how three Largo men (half-brothers David and Thomas Melville and David's brother-in-law Thomas Ballingall) had been line fishing in calm sea conditions in a 16-feet boat when tragedy had occurred.
William and John Ballingall who discovered the upset boat were cousins of Thomas Ballingall. They along with John Gillies had to provide evidence at the subsequent inquiry into drowning. William and his brother John had been fishing in Largo Bay on the day in question. Several boats were out including the one with the three men that lost their lives. William had observed them shooting their lines but later on his crew noticed a wrecked fishing boat and approached it. They drew in the mast and found the body of one of the men entangled in the ropes. The other two were missing. There was very little wind on the day and the witnesses could not account for the reason behind the accident.
William was still described as a Line Fisherman in the 1901 census and was living with Eliza and their two sons. Eliza died on 2 March 1911 and in the census of later the same year, William was a widower living on Lower Largo's Main Street (opposite the Crusoe Statue) with two sons, aged 19 and 14. Both William and his elder son were recorded as line fishermen. William died on 27 December 1923 aged 76, at his home on Main Street, Lower Largo. It seems likely that earlier in his life, William may have been among the crew members of one of the larger deep-sea fishing vessels, such as David Ballingall's Forget-Me-Not, which was crewed by family members with the surnames Ballingall, Gillies, Melville, Watson, Hutton and Wishart.