The stables associated with Largo Parish Church and its manse date to the 1830s. Originally, the building would have provided the minister with stables, a gig house and possibly a byre for any livestock kept. It likely also would have provided stabling for the horses of some of the worshippers for the duration of Church services. While the majority of the congregation would have walked to Church (some covering long distances) a few would have brought horses.
The building's original use became redundant long ago but it was not until the late 1960s that it was repurposed as a hall facility. In 1965, renovation work had taken place in the Church itself. It was redecorated, new lighting was installed and a new communion table was gifted. That same year, the pulpit and baptismal font from Newburn Church were moved to Largo. With those changes completed, attention focussed on the need to renovate the old stables. The objective was to create a new hall facility with good car parking facilities. The challenge was how to achieve this in a cost effective manner.
Assistance came in the form of a work party of thirteen young people from different parts of Europe, led by David Cowan from Farnham, Surrey. The Christian Movement for Peace group arrived in the summer of 1969. As the East Fife Mail reported, "the clatter of bulldozers and cement mixers announced that they had made a start on the projects". Staying in the nearby Church Rooms and Scout Hall, the seven females and six males, aged between 20 and 22, came from Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Norway and England. During their three week stay, the work party began work at 7 a.m. and worked until 1 p.m. each day, after which, their time was their own.
As well as making a start on the conversion of the stables and the laying out of a the car park, the group carried out redecoration work in the public rooms of the manse and in the homes of some of the old folk in the village. Mechanical equipment had been loaned for the project and a cement mixer was used to concrete the floor of the stables. Most of the group were new to building work but professional supervision was on hand.
The photograph above appeared in the 30 July 1969 East Fife Mail and shows some of the work party in action on a sunny day. The Christian Movement for Peace (now known as Volunteer Action for Peace) was founded by Etienne Bach an army officer from Alsace. Originally, it was formed to help reconciliation between France and Germany but it expanded following the Second World War to cover many countries in Europe. After 1950, an emphasis was placed on practical work and discussion to promote greater understanding between denominations and nationalities. The group's visit to Largo, coincided with two services being recorded in the Church for BBC television's Songs of Praise on 3 August. The image below shows Reverend Douglas Lister, minister at the time, right of centre, on the day of filming.
The renovation began by the work party and supplemented by the Church congregation was finished off in the spring of 1970 by professional firms. The 23 September 1970 East Fife Mail reported that the completed hall was dedicated by the Moderator of St Andrews Presbytery the Reverend Donald Cubie of Cameron and Largoward. The final step was to furnish the Stables with chairs and curtains. A 'Give a Chair Appeal' was launched, where members of the congregation were invited to give one or more chairs for their new hall. More than 50 years on, the Stables is still in use as a hall and has been a venue in Largo Arts Week in recent times. If you have memories of events held in The Stables please comment.