The 'Largo and Lundin Mill Total Abstinence Society' was in existence by the start of 1839. The Fife Herald reported (24 January that year) on the Society's "first soiree" held on Old Handsel Monday. This event was almost scuppered when the difficulty that many temperance and abstinence societies had - finding a suitable venue for an event, given that the only public meeting places were often inns and public houses - occurred when the Lundin Mill Subscription School (ie the old Emsdorf School) had refused to accommodate them.
However, the day was saved when "Mr Leslie, mill spinner, in the most handsome manner, granted his large wareroom" (ie the storage area of the spinning mill at Lower Largo). 260 people attended for "tea and other suitable refreshments", to listen to speeches, and to enjoy music from the Largo and Lundin Mill Instrumental Band as well as songs performed by some of the females present. Finally, "dancing commenced about 10 o'clock, and was kept up with great spirit until five in the morning. Three hearty cheers were given for Mr Leslie, for his kindness in granting his wareroom on this occasion."
The challenge of access to suitable venues was a national one and the movement generated over time a significant number of 'Temperance Halls'. In Largo Parish. most events took place outdoors or in one of the school rooms, until the aspiration to have a dedicated hall under the temperance banner was finally achieved in 1886. After much fund-raising activity, a "very substantial brick building" was erected by local builder Robert Gilchrist (see image above). The Fife Herald of 18 August 1886 stated that this had been "opened two or three months ago...at a cost of around £300 by the members of the Robinson Crusoe Lodge of Good Templars. In addition to being used by the Lodge for their ordinary meetings, it is to be available for meetings of "a good, moral and religious purpose"." By 1900, every town, and many villages, had their own temperance hall.
Although the temperance movement died out long ago, some of the buildings associated with it have been left behind as a reminder. The Temperance Hall in Lundin Mill (until recently the Crusoe Hall) at Mill Wynd is a legacy from this era. Aside from the desire to have suitable venues for meetings and soirees, it became clear early on that the temperance movement also needed to offer accommodation for travellers - an alternative to the inns and public houses. The next post will look at the concept of the Temperance House, or Temperance Hotel....one of which Lundin Mill also had.