Dunfermline and Rosyth in old picture postcards volume 2

Dunfermline and Rosyth in old picture postcards volume 2

:   Eric Simpson and George Robertson
:   Fife
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6316-3
:   128
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Over the years quite a number of photographers have recorded the passing scene. While some have been amateurs, others have worked on a professional basis. The results of their endeavours, whether amateur snapshots or highly professional images, have provided us with the raw material for this illustrated depietion of times of change in the Auld Grey Toun of Dunfermline. The proprietor of the first ' photographic establishment' in Dunfermline was a Mr. Louis. Although we cannot point to any specific examples ofhis work, we can be sure that portraits, or likenesses, would have been lus staple. How much business he did in 1854 when he started up is open to question. It was a time of trade depression and 500 men were out ofwork.Yet change was af oot. The town of Dunfermline (population some 13,000) was now conneered to the railway system. In industry, toa, the power of steam was being demonstrated to full effect. The first successful power loom machines were then at work in faetories in Pilmuir Street and in St. Leenard's. The day of the traditional hand-loom weaver was coming to an end.

Other photographers came and went. Same prospered and survived much langer than the average. [ames Norval was one who made his mark not just as a very professional photographer and businessman, but also, as a number of the photographs and captions in this volume confirm, as one of the burgh's leading citizens. It was in 1885 that jatnes Norval set up business in his own right, having previously managed a studio for a Kirkcaldy-based firrn. Prospects must have seemed good. The burgh population was rising, now up to around the 15,000 mark. Dunfermline had now a direct rail link to Edinburgh via a railway ferry from North Queensferry to Port Edgar. Work, toa, had started on a massive new project - a great new rail bridge to span the Forth at

Queensferry. New linen mills had been built to meet the demand, at bath home and abroad, for high-quality damask table-linen and other like products.

New types of camera and new photographic processes increased the number, though not always the quality, of photographic images. In 1911 an American Midget Photo Company was advertising its services in Chalmers Street, Dunfermline. By then the transport network had seen further change with the opening in 1909 of the electric tramway system. Even more significant was the decision by the British Admiralty to build a naval base at Rosyth. Work on this base and its associated doekyard. though, did not get underway until 1909. The outbreak of war in 1914 ensured that the work of construction was considerably accelerated. The planners, toa, saw the need for a large number of dwellings to house the employees of the dockyard. In 1910, therefore, a decision was made to build a new settlement on the then fashionable 'garden city' principles. The new suburb, the so-called Rosyth Garden City. was brought within the now extended boundaries of the ancient royal burgh of Dunfermline. Local photographers gained business, too, from tourists and other visitors to the Auld Grey Toun. Tourists were drawn to the burgh for its wealth of history, for the Andrew Carnegie connection, and for the tewn's prime new visitor attraction, PittencrieffPark, which was one ofCarnegie's most notable philanthropic gifts to the town ofhis birth. As many of the illustrations bath in this baak and in the preceding volume clearly show, Pittencrieff GIen proved to be a photographer's mecca.

The photographic record reflects social change and reveals the extent of the physical transformation of the town. Same of these changes

arose not because oflocal choice, but sprang instead from events and circumstances far removed from theAuld GreyToun. It was the rise of Germany as a naval power which brought Rosyth into being. At the end of the Great War, the balance of power had changed once again. The German High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow and na langer posed a threat. In 1925, therefore, the British naval establishment abandoned Rosyth and retreated to its traditional south ofEngland bases. With Rosyth reduced to a 'care and maintenance' basis, part of this expensively-equipped doekyard was transformed, as photograph No. 102 shows, into a demolition yard. The renewal of the German riaval threat meant that Rosyth was reactivated immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The aerial menace meant that the nearby Donibristle air base was likewise reactivated (see Nos. 94 and 95).

It was in 1939 too, the year the war started, that HerbertT. Macpherson moved bis business to the Regal Close. The photograph taken of his new shop shows that picture postcards were still a good line ofbusiness. (See No. 12.) Local shopkeepers, like Macpherson, were eager to have their names embossed on a variety of cards. Once the war had started, shortages of materials and the need for military secrecy meant that much wartime activity went unrecorded. As in the First World War (see the section on Rosyth), photographs were taken for propaganda reasans and for other official purposes. We find, in addition, photographs of men and wamen in uniform being taken for commemorative purposes, as for example Nos. 83b and 120.

When peace came in 1945, there were fears that, as in 1925, the Rosyth base and doekyard would once again be declared surplus to requirements, The onset of the Cold War ensured that Rosyth was re-

tained to help counter the riaval threat from the Soviet Union. When the Cold War was over, Rosyth once more was threatened with extinction. Today, the privatised doekyard ofRosyth employs a much reduced workforce. Compared with former days (see No. 32), the riaval presence is now derisory. The last vessels to be based at Rosyth, some minor war vessels, left for other ports in November 1995.

When in 1854 Mr. Louis established bis photographic studio, the camera was an exciting innovation, but one which was the pres erve of a few professionals and a handful of dedicated, and wealthy, amateurs. In recent years, with personal cameras now commonplace, very many more people are providing material for the photographie record. For the last decades of the 20th century, we have a huge choice of visual material- ranging from snapshots of family and friends to portraits and other photographs taken by highly skilled professionals. They do, though, tell a story and all are part of the photographic record of Dunferrnline and surrounding area. From Victorian days to more recent times, we thus possess a permanent visual record of days that have departeel and of places that have gone or have been changed out of all recognition.

1 We start at the top of the New Row around 1920. DCI stands for Diek's Co-operative Institutions (see pictures 7 and 121 in volume I). Iudging by the amount of meat on display, there was evidently

no BSE scare at that time. There is a DCI baker's shop next door and above a dental establishment. This was obviously a photo taken for advertising purposes, since posed outside are some counter staff and delivery men with their vans. The solid-ryred motor vehicle is open at the front, just like the horse-drawn van. The corner shop was taken over in 1954 by Grafton's, ladies' outfitters.

2 Here we see a tram of the Dunfermline and District Tramways Company. The time is the early 1920s, the location is the East Port loop (a passing place) and the tram has come from Lochore. The tramway system was extended to Lochore in 1 91 2. On the left, we see the former St. Margaret's Parish Church, which was demolished to make way for a new office building for Dunfermline Building Society. Apart from the shop signs, the buildings, as far as we can see, are little changed.

3 We come to another loop section on the tramway line leading into Dunfermline from Halbeath. The year is 1925 and the motor-car and lamp-posis are very much of that period. Although the sun is shining and the street seems dry, the youngster on the right is kitted out ready for mansaan conditions. The shop on the extreme left, with a lassie keeking roon the corner, advertises the services ofWilliam Laing & Son, Dyers & Cleaners, Alloa. The dwellings in the far disrance are now gone. The cupolatopped building on the other corner was erected in 1904 by the Dunfermline Co-eperative Society. The message

states that he (or maybe it is a she!) has been awarded the degree of F.E.LS. (Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland). The sender wanted the Edinburgh recipient to reserve a seat for a matinee per-

formanee of George Bernard Shaw's play 'St. Ioan'.

4 In this greatly-altered scene, we observe theTownhill tram passing the Public Park gates. The prominent building to the left is the Park Tavern, which was dernolished to make way for the much-maligned Sinclair Gardens roundabout. Reereanonal open spaces as 'lungs' for the working populaee were very much in vogue in midVictorian Britain. We can trace the origin of the Dunferrnline Public Park to a notice in a local newspaper dated Iune 1861, stating that 'a party' wished to purehase a piece of ground for the recreation of the inhabitants and the drilling of the local Volunteers. The Public Park, designed by Sir [oseph Paxton of Crystal

Palace farne, was eventually opened to the publie in 1863. The bands tand, a gift from Mrs. Louise Carnegie, was added in 1888.

5 Now Robins Cinema (left) this 1 91 3 Art Deca edifice was the first purposebuilt picture-house in Dunfermline. Eventually, other Iarger and more imposing cinemas were opened in the town, butThe Cinema, as it was then, is the only one still showing films. Going from East Port to Reform Street, we arrive at the Opera House (right) which was designed as a two-balconied theatre.

Opened in 1 903, this lavish

1 250 seat theatre was rather pretentiously described as the Theatre RoyalOpera House. EarIy advertising stated that it was 'visited only by Companies of the Highest Repute ... and was the Only Recognised Theatre in Fife'. Patrons were advised that a late train ran to Thornton and intermediate stations every Saturday at 10.39 p.m. Observe the street signs indicating that there

was a pub, the Station Tavern, on the left and just beyond the Opera House, the old Queen Arme School entrance.

6 Greatly altered and now known as Carnegie Drive, Reform Street is na more. This name dates back to the 19th century, to the time of the great popular demonstrations for parliamentary reform. Notiee how crowded the street scene is. The photograph must have been taken at the change-over. There is a queue at one side of the street, wailing for the next performance, and a stream of customers leaving the theatre. With competition from TV and other new forms of entertainment, the Opera House became redundant and was closed in 1 955 and the building turned to other use. Despite public protest, the ornate interlor was removed

and transported for theatrical use to Sarasota in Florida. The Opera House was then demolished in 1982. Other weel-kent establishments include MacBay, fishmonger, and Dobie, saddler.

7 Still in Reform Street but now across the road from Dobie's, we come to the fish restaurant belonging to Mrs. Angelantonio Cascarino. The date is early September and the year is 1920, as confirmed by the poster in the window which teils us what was running atThe Cinema. The films include 'The Career of Katherine Bush', 'Masked Rider', "The Great Gamble', and 'Square Deal Sanderson' this last a Western romance starring William S. Hart. Another notice laments that the proprietrix had been compeiled to increase prices. Fish and chips then cost 7 d - at that price presumably seated

in the restaurant! Mrs. A. Cascarino (Domenica) stands to the left. Notice the bashful bairn to the rear - identity unknown. Domenica came to Scotland in 1912 from Frosinone in Italy with her hus-

band and eldest child Bascalena (Bashie), then six years old.

8 This is an older photograph showing the Caseanno family not lang after their arrival in Scotland. Caseanno senior is in the cart selling ginger beer, 'CAN'T BE BEAT' is the slogan on the roof of the vehicle. The location could be the Coal Raad. Notice the candy twist roof support of another vehicle, just visible on the right. Domenica on the right is holding a container of some sorts while the young Bashie seems to be eating - chips?

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