Known to most as Bert, Robert Band was a local joiner and building contractor remembered fondly by many. Over the decades, he worked on a huge range of local buildings around Largo and beyond. Based for many years under the viaduct, at the caravan park at Lower Largo, he was the developer of Seatoun Place. This two-part post will look at Robert's life - beginning with the early years in this first part, before moving on to look in more detail at some of the projects he completed as a self-employed joiner and contractor, and his later life, in part two.
Robert was born on 10 October 1934, at his maternal grandparents, William and Isabella Beveridge's, small holding at Muirtonhills in the Parish of Auchterderran, Fife (a model of the small holding, made by Robert's son John, is shown below). His parents, Neil and Helen Band lived on the adjacent Pitcairn Farm where Neil was a cattleman and ploughman. Such an occupation meant that the family moved around various farms, following opportunities of work. In 1947, they arrived in Lundin Mill, where they resided in a tied cottage associated with Lundin Mill Farm, located in the long-demolished Paradise Row, off Mill Wynd.
The image above shows Paradise Row, to the left of centre, behind the line of washing and in front of the higher building behind. It also shows the home to which the Band family moved the following year. Known as Dunkirk Cottages this building is in the centre of the photograph which the light coloured frontage facing towards 'Paradise Row'. Lundin Mill Farm House can be seen in the distance to the right of Dunkirk (directly above the horse). Robert attended Leven Secondary School in Mitchell Street, where he showed a flair for woodwork. On leaving school in 1948, aged 14, he began a joinery apprenticeship with Robert (Bob) Stout at Aberhill Joinery on Wellesley Road. During his apprenticeship Robert made hundreds of sliding sash windows, staircases, doors, etc and made many a trip down to Donaldson's Sawmill for timber (using only a two-wheeled hand cart).
Upon completing his apprenticeship, Robert went straight into his National Service. He enlisted in 1955 with the 67th training regiment at Hadrian's Camp, Carlisle, where he completed his basic training, before passing out and joining the Life Guards. He was granted leave to marry Catherine Philp on 9 June 1955 at Largo Parish Church (see notice below from the 18 June 1955 Dundee Courier). Robert had assisted Catherine's parents, who owned the Largo Bay caravan site, to develop their site. He helped with alterations to the former Mill Cottage to create toilets, a shower block, site shop and office, as well as construction of the garage/workshop alongside this. The images further below show Robert in his uniform at Largo Bay Caravan Park, while on leave to be married (left) and Robert and Catherine as newly-weds in 1956 by the viaduct at Lower Largo (right). Their first home was a Travelmaster caravan on the Philps' caravan site, situated on the spot where the family would build their own home years later.
Less than one month after marrying, Assault Trooper Robert Band (service number 2312506) was flown to Egypt, to be part of the military force defending the canal zone there. He spent his 21st birthday on the banks of the Suez Canal. A spell in Cyprus followed and, later, time at Combermere Barracks in Windsor where Robert qualified as a regimental cook. After serving 2 years and 22 days with the Life Guards, his military service came to an end. Despite being asked to become a professional soldier with the regiment, Robert was eager to return to his civilian life as a joiner. He resumed employment with Bob Stout as a foreman joiner in charge of the new local authority housing scheme at Muiredge, Buckhaven. Remaining on the army reserve list for four years, he was never recalled. Part two to follow....