"Up until 1850 there was a loom in every house in Lower Largo, Drummochy, and Lundin, and much linen was made....The linen industry in Largo steadily decayed from the time of the introductions of power looms in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, until by the end of the 19th Century there were no hand looms left."
The ubiquity of hand loom weaving had shaped the physical appearance of the villages. There were many typical weavers cottages. Typically, these would have low ceilings to which the loom could be attached and reasonably large windows to provide a good source of natural light. The cottages along Hillhead Street (shown below) and Emsdorf Street in Lundin Links are good examples. There were also many bleaching greens in the villages - sheltered grassy areas where linen would be stretched out in the sunshine to bleach.
On 24 September 1859, the Dunfermline Saturday Press reported that in Lundin Mill "the weaving trade has not been so dull for some time here for some considerable time as just now. At Largo, the same complaint is heard." However, the decline was not to be a smooth one - rather there would be many ups and downs - and these were charted in the local press. The same paper on 15 October 1859 suggested an upturn in the trade and also provided an insight into the type of work typically carried out in Lundin Mill:
"Broad sheetings, dowlases, and huckabacks, are the principal fabrics wrought here by our hand-loom weavers, and lately a scarcity of work was felt; but we are glad to observe that some manufacturers are again sending supplies of work to our village, the inhabitants of which in a great measure depend thereon for support."
Huckaback was a centuries old weave, characterised by a diamond or honeycomb texture (see image below). Often used for towels, 'huck' is lightweight and fast-drying due to its uneven surface. Dowlas was a plain cloth, similar to sheeting but coarser - often used for overalls or aprons.
This very rapid change from "dull" to "abundant" demonstrates how erratic work for weavers was at this time. This inconsistent state of affairs would continue into the following decade - as we will see in the next post.