The photograph above shows the workers of Cardy Net Factory in December 1885, on the day of the unveiling of the statue depicting Robinson Crusoe (the fictional character inspired by local man Alexander Selkirk). In the picture there are 37 women and 3 men. The men could well be brothers of factory owner David Gillies. Two of his brothers (William Gillies and John Gillies) were both described as 'Net Machine Mechanics' in the 1881 census. However, John died in 1882 aged just 25.
A younger brother, Robert Gillies, was a joiner, while another brother, James, was a ship's carpenter. The three men in the back row above (potentially William, Robert and James), appear in several other photographs taken on the same day. They seem to have had a key role in the decoration of the village for the occasion, including erecting the platform beneath the statue, upon which the 'platform party' would assemble for the unveiling (seen in the image below). The many arches of evergreens along the route of the parade were likely also their handiwork.
In the above photo, we can clearly see the same three men. The one on the left has a lighter shirt with dark waistcoat, the man in the centre has a distinctive wide brimmed hat and the man on the right has no beard but has a small hat perched high on his head and a visible pocket watch chain. The latter two are prominent in the scene below, standing adjacent to White Cottage on the right. The beardless man with the dog, holding the hammer, appears to have been securing the finishing touches prior to the event getting under way.
All three can be seen below to the left of centre, resting by the railings of St David's Church. Many other local people are out on the streets observing the goings on, even those not formally involved in proceedings. Of course many local folk, particularly the tradespeople, were part of the procession along the Main Street. The following description is from the Fife Herald of 16 December:
"...the bobbin winders, the guarders and other net workers in Cardy Works; the fishermen and fisher lasses of Largo; the former accompanying the fishing boat "Robinson Crusoe" mounted on a cart....the nimble fingers of the fisher lasses as they sat "baiting the line" attracting much attention. Then came the fish-cadgers, the boat-builders, the cork-cutters...oil workers...bakers...bedecked with white caps and aprons....Masons, joiners, plasterers, blacksmiths, bottle-top makers and others followed - all busily engaged in practical illustrations of their respective handicrafts."
The fishing boat named Robinson Crusoe mentioned above was registered KY 527, was 33 feet in length and belonged to another David Gillies.
Finally, we can see in the photograph below, the man on the right is holding flags, while chatting to some older gentlemen. In the image further below, we can see later in the day that the same flags are aloft at the same spot. Could the dressmaker sister of David Gillies - Agnes Gillies - have been behind the beautifully sewn banners and flags? Or perhaps many female hands collaborated on this element of the day. To see a range of 'then and now' images from this special day in 1885, click here and here. As one of the eldest villagers was quoted in the Fife Herald article "There was never a day like this in Lergie'".