The building on the extreme left of the above image (of Main Street Upper Largo looking east) with the chimney was once 'Black's Boot and Shoe Warehouse'. This was the premises of Thomas Black, who rose to this position from humble beginnings. Born in Ceres around 1846, his father Robert, a hand loom weaver, died when Thomas was a toddler and the family were described as paupers in the 1851 census. However, by the next census, aged 14, Thomas was listed as 'apprentice shoemaker'. Ten years further on, Thomas Black married Christina Brown and they set up home in Largoward. He was now a master bootmaker, employing one man. In 1875, the advert below appeared in the 10 July Dundee Courier.
In 1881 Thomas and Christina were still in Largoward, now with a son and a daughter and two boarders who were both shoemakers. The advert below (1 April 1880, Fife Herald) shows that one of the products made by the business were "pit shoes". There were several coal pits around Largoward at the time (perhaps that was why Black set up there in the first case). However, over time, new products were advertised and a shop in Upper Largo was opened (see advert further below from 19 May 1894 St Andrews Citizen). Son Robert became an apprentice when he reached his teens and by 1901 he was a fully fledged boot maker and his sister Mary was a 'boot shop saleswoman'.
Widowed in 1907, Thomas was still making boots at the time of the 1911 census, well into his 60s. Evidence of his Upper Largo shop still exists in the form of a 'ghost sign' on the gable end of his old retail outlet. The words 'Black', 'boot', 'shoe' and 'warehouse' can still just about be made out.
This blog is about the history of the villages of Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo in Fife, Scotland. Comments and contributions from readers are very welcome!
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