Limekilns to Culross in old picture postcards

Limekilns to Culross in old picture postcards

:   Eric Simpson and George Robertson
:   Fife
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6080-3
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

Levertijd: 2 - 3 werkdagen (onder voorbehoud). Het getoonde omslag kan afwijken.


Fragmenten uit het boek 'Limekilns to Culross in old picture postcards'

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Thomas Pennant, a Welsh visitor to Scotland in 1772, described Fife as 'a county sa populous, excepting London, scarcely one in South Britain can vie with it, fertile in sail, abundant in cattle, happy in collieries, in ironstone, in lime and freestone, blest in manufacturers, the property weil divided - the whole shore from Crail to Culross ... is one continuous chain of towns and villages .. .' A fair proportion ofPennant's chain of towns and villages is embraced within the coastal strip that comprises the subject-matter ofthis baak. While the industries and manufactures thus described are, by and large, gone, the Forthside communities that they helped to create survive. Whereas it was their industrial wealth that astonished and staggered Thomas Pennant, nowadays, however, it is these villages' history and remarkable heritage that bring enquiring tourists to the southern share of Fife from Limekilns to Culross.

Limekilns and Charlestown, as with the other ports of this area, served the industrial and commercial needs of the neighbouring landed proprietors and also the nearby burgh of Dunfermline. Their names explain their origins. Charlestown, the more recent of the two, was created as a planned new village by Charles, 5th Earl ofElgin. It was developed as a port and industrial village where lime was quarried and burned at an imposing set of lime kilns. Bath lime and coal from the Earl of Blgin's collieries were exported from the Earl's own harbour. The coal was transparted to Charlestown by a railway; whose origins go back to the late 18th century. Obviously, it was the burning of lime that explains how the neighbouring and older community of Limekilns gat its name. As Dunfermline's trade and commerce increased during the 18th and early 19th centuries, so Limekilns' shipping trade prospered. In 1861 there were 36 shipmasters and owners in the village. Limekilns, however, began to lose its trade to Charlestown, as that

port was extended and improved in the course of the 19th century.

The model estate village of Charlestown was tightly controlled by the 'Lords of the Maner' , as the rules of Earl Thomas (1815) make evident. The inhabitants, for instance, were bound 'to keep their children out of mishievous practices and idleness, partieularly on the Sabbath dav'. They were prohibited, too, from selling their dung to any person 'except to the said Earl, without leave asked and obtained in writing'.

The historie ports of Crombie and Torryburn suffered the same fate as Limekilns. A hive of activity in the 18th century, the pier at Crombie Point was by the mid-19th century merely a port of call for steamboats which sailed from Newhaven to Stiding. In addition a ferry-baat made a daily sailing to Bo'ness. Once notorious for its treatment of witches and more happily renowned for its fair, late 18th century Torryburn owned thirteen vessels and housed some seventy seamen. By 1832, it was a village in a state of rapid decay. According to English visitorWilliam Cobbett, all the buildings were 'extremely ugly and mean' with many houses empty and derelict. In 1857 the population stood at 670, weaving being the main souree of employment. Barbieri caustically observed that the village had 'nothing in particular to recommend it, unless a fine, clean sea-beach'. When in 1870 a horse-drawn coach was introduced, it was regarded as samething of a novelty. Still, by the 1880s there was enough business for a thrice-daily coach service from Dunferrnline toTarryburn and Newmills during the summer months. Since todayTorry Bay is a haven far seabirds, naturalists and other daytrippers head for this share where, in 1704, the remains of Lilias Adie, an accused witch, were buried within the high water mark.

Newmills is another place whose name eau be readily explained, its name deriving from an ancient 'new mill' on the Bluther Burn. Nearby, on the now reclaimed land of Preston Island, we see the remains of an

18th century colliery and salt pans, other long gone industrial enterprises. West of the burn, we find two commnnities, specially created, but at very different times. The more recent, High Valleyfield, was built at the beginning of this century as a model mining village. Low Valleyfield goes back much further, having been created a burgh of barony in 1663. It was the hope of the Laird ofValleyfield that his burgh would take away trade from the rival royal burgh ofCulross. One observer in 1838 remarked that the handloom weavers of Low Valleyfield were 'a primitive people'. But sa toa, he continued, were their neighbours and feUow-parishioners of Culross.

By then, Culross' glory days were over. Back, though, in the 17th century, coal and salt were exported in large quantities. Described by Daniel Defoe in the early 180 Os as 'a neat and agreeable town' , it must have been rather sooty and grimy when its fifty salt pans were producing and the local coal pits were being exploited. Bypassed by 19th century industrialisation, Culross managed to preserve its old-world character, In 1838, though, it was said 'no one ever thinks of going near it'. The arrival, toa, of a stranger was 'an extraordinary event in the lives of the inhabitants', Viewed from the sea, late Vietorian Culross, another observer remarked, appeared picruresque, but when seen dose to it was' dingy, mean, and decayed ... the mere skeleton of an ancient

town'. Most of the houses were shabby and all the streets and lanes were in disrepair. Gradually, though, more tourists began to arrive, with antiquarians and artists relishing its old-world atmosphere and pieturesque appearance. For some visitors from Stirling, Culross was more dead than alive - 'a place to which it might be news that Queen Anne was dead'. In 1901 the burgh population was a mere 348. The arrival ofthe railway, the Kincardine to Dunfermline line, in 1906 enlivened this moribund burgh. Three years earlier, Tom Cousin, the local

coach proprietor, had introduced a Halley motor bus to the Dunfermline to Culross run. 'It was a happy-go-lucky concern the Culross motor,' one customer found. 'It was seerningly full when we started, but we collected passengers all the way and brought them into Culross like bees hanging to a comb.'

As industry returned to the neighbourhood, the social composition of the burgh began to change. By the mid-20th century, it was a very different kind of community There were not sa many retired people. With coal-miners and their families comprising a large proportion of the population, 'artists and antiquarians', we are told, began to drift away. Culross by 1951, opined the parish minister, was 'no langer off the beaten track'. 'Culross,' he continued, 'is modern and sa has largely lost its individuality.'

Since that time Culross had undergone further change. This historie burgh, with many of its buildings restored with the help ofthe National Trust for Scotland, is one of the few plaees in Scotland where it is possible to reereate the appearance and atmosphere ofan old-world Scottish burgh. Indeed there are elements in all the eommunities of the upper firth, from Limekilns to Culross, that would please, and be lauded by, a latter-dayThomas Pennant.

The authors:

Eric Simpson and George Robertson previously eollaborated on 'Dunfermline and Rosyth in old picture posteards' and 'Cowdenbeath in old picture postcards'. also published by the European Library

Eric Simpson, a former Head of History at Moray House College in Edinburgh, lives in Dalgety Bay His other books inelude 'Dalgety - the

story of a parish', 'The Auld GreyToun - Dunfermline in the time of Andrew Carnegie 1835-1919', 'TheVikings in Scorland', 'Discovering Banff, Moray & Nairn' (Iohn Donald), 'Inverkeithing and Dalgety in old picture postcards' (with George Hastie), 'Aberdour and Burntisland in old picture postcards', and 'Buckie in old picture postcards' - the last three also being European Library publications.

George Robertson, a Fifer bom and bred, has lived in the Dunfermline area all his life. He is a former Police Inspeetor with Fife Constabulary. Currently ernployed at the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace and Museum in Dunfermline, he is also a voluntary guide for the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and Dunfermline Heritage Trust at Abbot House.


We are grateful to those people who generously loaned material and/or assisted in other ways. Special thanks are due to Edith and Harry May, Ian Clark, Ian and Jean Terris, Freda Drysdale, George Hastie, Martin Rogers, Williarn Gray and Tom Todd. Lin Collis and her colleagues at Dunfermline Museum and Chris Neale, Penny Maplesden and other Dunfermline Library staff'have as always provided valuable help and assistance. We are also greatly indebted to Fraser Simpson for photographic assistance and to our wives Kathleen and Maureen for proof-reading and encouragernent.

On Mam Street, Limekilns, at the centre of the village stands the UnionArms Inn. The building seen here dates from 1899. Later known as the Limekilns Hotel, it is now the Bruce Arms. Bruce is, of course, the family name for the Earl of Elgin, whose residence, Broomhall, lies a short distance north of the hotel. Features of the turn of the century village - the shop on the left, the water-pump, and pantile-roofed dwelling with forestairs - are now gone.

2 The name Bruce is attached to the old tidal harbour of Brucehaven. In this late 19th century view, we see two paddle-steamers (probably tug-boats) and in the background several sailing ships. Steam tugs were used

to tow sailing ships in and out of the local harbours. Capernaum Pier on the left, which dates back to the 1770s, was originally built for the coal trade. This postcard was printed from a photograph by [ames Norval of Dunfermline.

Brucehaven, Limekilns

Norval, Photo

3 Here we have another Norval photograph shawing the same scene from a different angle. There is a lot of timber in the foregraund. The 1856 Ordnance Survey map shows that there was a saw pit on the share at this spot. For many years ships were built and boats repaired at this Brucehaven site. According ta the 1841 census there were nine sawyers, 28 shipwrights and 43 merchant seamen in what was then a thriving seaport. There would have been even more seamen based in the village, but many would have been at sea when the census was taken.

4/5 looking westward from Brucehaven we note that the terraeed row of houses has changed very little in the ninety or sa years since this photo (left) was taken. The high-roofed building in the centre left was a malt barn .

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The barn stood as a roofless ruin for many years. When the road between limekilns and Charlestown was widened in 1 930, the stonework from the barn was used for infilling.

In the right-hand photograph, we see a crane and men engaged on construction work on the beach. Presumably this was for the building of the sewer outfall, which is located here. The left-hand card was produced for Miss

Katherine ]. Allister, draper and fancy goods dealer; the other for Reid, Post Office, limekilns.

6 This photograph, taken from the Knowe, reminds us that the Pan Knowe was a saltworks site. We observe that the single-storey buildings in the centre, on the share side behind the street-pump, are now gone and that several of the buildings on the other side of Red Row have been replaced. This postcard (postmark date 1911) predates the construction of the promenade. It toa was printed for Miss Allister, whose premises were in the Red Row area. The railings on the extreme right are still in place.

7 Barnet's bakery, located on Mam Street where it adjoins Red Row, is featured in this early 1900s photo. We note that ]ames Barnet was also a confectioner and that his delivery vehicle was handpropelled. Notice the flour on the bakers' boots and the tinplate adverts for Pry's and Rowantree's chocolate and cocoa products. Tinplate panels were a common farm of advertising at that time, and are now very collectable.

8/9 We are now back to the Union Arms Inn which appears in bath postcards. The low building with lums at each end (No. 9 centre-left) was probably a wash-house. The building survives but it now lacks the chimneys ...

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