Talk will be about our current project to refurbish Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery and Kirkcaldy Central Library. Building is now closed to visitors and we plan to re-open in spring 2013 with improved museum, library and tourist information area. Revamped café and ground floor displays for library and museum collections. New local history room on first floor. Single entrance – at current library entrance. Talk today will mainl;y be about the plans for the new long term local history display on ground floor – a chance to highlight our wonderful collections from Kirkcaldy, such as eye-catching Wemyss ware!
Kikrcaldy Museum opened in 1925 – here is image of it with lino factories looming in background. These are some of Barry, Ostlere and Shepherd factories (Barry’s) – the Abbotshall Works on left and Caledonia Work son right. From its foundation the museum has had close connections with local industries. Money to build it came from John Nairn, lino manufacturer (Nairn’s great rivals of Barry’s). Museum part of war memorial – very unusual, don’t know of any other museum in this country that are also part of war memorial. 25,000 attended opening in summer of 25. Nairn gave money because his son Ian Couper Nairn was killed near end of war. He also had interest in fine art. Library and more first floor galleries added in 1928. Large refurb in 1995/96 – early lottery funded project which saw lift, ramps, more behind the scenes space etc. Improved art galleries in 2010 (lighting, re-decoration). 2012/13 – closed now until spring 2013. New single entrance. Improve café (now to go at front of building), new shop and tourist info section, new local history display and Local History Room…
This is an oil painting of the building that stood on the site before museum was built. It is a view of Balsusney House, an 18 th century house that had gardens in front (now War Memorial Gardens). Painting was in very poor condition (dirty, canvas torn, no frame or glazing) and was therefore conserved 10 years ago. Friends of Kirkcaldy Museum raised money for this as part of the Millennium Conservation Project – many works conserved. Balsusney House painting was transformed – cleaned, repaired and framed. Name of owner of house – Philp – appeared above doorway. This enabled us to date the painting to c1850 when it was a temperance hotel next to newly built railway station. Hotel soon reverted to hotel selling alcohol (not sure what this says about Kirkcaldy people!). Later it was home to linen manufacturer. On far left of painting (can’t see it in slide) is earliest image of railway engine in the town, showing it crossing bridge at Abbotshall Church.
… which will look at important dates in Kirkcaldy’s history. To be called Moments in Time. It will be located in two rooms – where the Café is now and half of the current local history space on the right of the museum on the ground floor. Some local history objects will also be in café (pottery) and hallway area. Here you can see some images of objects and paintings that could feature – Adam Smith, lino tin, view of Kirkcaldy in 1838, Ian Couper Nairn (son of John Nairn) painting, penny farthing…
Here you can see rare first edition of the Wealth of Nations – arguably the most important work on economics ever written. Written by Smith when he lived in Kirkcaldy and published in 1776. On right is Smith’s ink well – one of few objects that belonged to Smith to have survived. His house on Kirkcaldy High Street was demolished in 1830s.
We have a number of home-made placards and banners along with ephemera (stickers, badges) from the dispute – the sort of objects that could easily have been thrown away and lost. Great to have them for the future. This shows demonstration in front of Town House in Kirkcaldy.
These unusual objects were carved out of parrot coal by Thomas Williamson in 1855. This material, also known as cannel coal, was used in the 19th century in the production of gas and oil. The term ‘parrot’ is thought to refer to the crackling noise it made when burnt, which was similar to the clicking of a parrot’s beak. Unlike the more brittle household coal, parrot coal can be carved and has a quality and texture similar to marble. During the middle decades of the 19th century a few specialist craftsmen in Fife, including Williamson, used this unusual material in the production of items such as tables, chairs, mirror frames and ink-stands. There was an appetite in the Victorian period for furniture crafted from unusual materials and coal furniture seems to have been a popular craze for a while. A stone mason from West Wemyss, Williamson worked under the patronage of the Wemyss family, who were important land and pit owners in the area. A garden seat by Williamson was even acquired by HRH Prince Albert and exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. Williamson himself never achieved any lasting fame and died aged 43, in 1858. The table is signed and dated on the underside and the chairs, which were made to go with it, bear the Wemyss family crest of the swan and the family motto ‘Je pense’.
You can see the Lady Blanche pit which closed in 1928. Fishing nets also visible.
Site in Oriel Road was excavated in 1931 (site of abattoir and now Post Office building). Two cist burials found – one for a man and one for a woman. Dagger in man’s cist and beaker and jet beads/buttons in woman’s. Examination of man’s bones (no bones in our collection) show that he was at least 50 years old.
Actual pistols used in the last fatal duel in Scotland which took place at Cardenbarns Farm, Auchterderran near Kirkcaldy in 1926. Resulted from dispute between David Landale, Kirkcaldy linen merchant and George Morgan, an agent of the Bank of Scotland. Landale complained about rumours of his financial position which had been spread by Morgan
Born in Kirkcaldy in 1909, John Thomson lived with his parents and his brothers and sisters at 27, Balgreggie Park, Cardenden. He became a goalkeeper with Celtic but was tragically killed in an Old Firm game in 1931 when he dived making a save – the Rangers forward’s knee made fatal contact with his head. Aged only 22 he was buried at Cardenden – thousands attended his funeral, many walking from west of Scotland to attend. To mark the 80 th anniversary about 60 people walked from Glasgow in Sept 2011.
Scottish Floorcloth Manufactory built in 1847-49. Nicknamed Nairn’s Folly (retrospectively?). Start of what became lino industry. Kirkcaldy has UK’s only remaining lino works.
Whaling industry in Kirkcaldy - not as significant as Dundee but still important in mid 19 th century. First recorded whaling vessel was “Earl Percy” in 1813. Whale oil used in wide variety of products. Number of ships – check. Viewforth was trapped in ice for…check. Dangerous job…
Oil of Ian Couper Nairn in 1899 by Harrington Mann in our collection. Only son of John Nairn, he was a captain in the Fife & Forfar Yeomanry and was killed in France in 1918. He had previously been awarded the Military Cross. We have this, his service medals and the bronze plaque given to relatives of deceased in the war in the collection. This section of MIT will look at the war and the Home Front.
We have some objects found at castle- cannon ball, key, pottery sherds and pottery urinal from about 1600. Castle started to be planned under James II (1430 – 1460). After he died his widow Mary of Gueldres (c1434 – 1463) was Regent of Scotland. She carried on with plans for Ravenscraig Castle and lived in it when it was being built. She died there in 1463. Castle was one of first in Britain to be designed to withstand cannon fire. Castle was damaged by Cromwell’s forces in 1651. Walter Scott – castle mentioned in poem Lay of the Last Minstrel. Ravensheuch = Ravenscraig Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew! And gentle ladye, deign to stay! Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch, Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.
I’ll say a wee bit first about our art collections – one of best collections of 19 th and 20 th centuries Scottish art in the country. First painting to enter collection – Bullring Crowd by Arthur Melville, one of the Glasgow Boys. Donated by John Nairn along with another watercolour by Melville. We now have over 1,000 artworks in the collection.
New Kirkcaldy Museum Local History Display Moments in Time Open in spring 2013
Moment in Time1776 – Adam Smith publishes “The Wealth of Nations”
Moment in Time1776 – Adam Smith publishes “The Wealth of Nations”Adam Smith’s snuff box. Ivory and mother of pearl with hisinitials on top. Recently conserved with assistance of theFriends of Kirkcaldy Museums & Art Gallery.
Moment in Time300 million BC – coal bed formed in Fife Last lump of coal mined at Frances Colliery
Frances Colliery“The Dubbie”Started around 1850Peak workforce of 1,482Undersea, linked to Seafield in 1981Closed in 1988, now only headframe remains…70 years ago… …and 30 years ago
Seafield CollieryUndersea “superpit”Started production in 1966Peak workforce of 2,466Disaster in 1873 when 5 men killedDemolition in 1988
Moment in Time1855 – Thomas Williamson carves table, chairs and mirror out ofcoalMade for Wemyss castle out of “parrot coal”.Example of Victorian craftsmanship and invention.
Moment in Time1855 – Thomas Williamson carves table, chairs and mirror out ofcoal Penny farthing – another Victorian design
Moment in Time1883 – Karel Nekola comes from Bohemia to Kirkcaldy to decorateWemyss Ware pottery
Moment in Time1883 – Karel Nekola comes from Bohemia to Kirkcaldy to decorateWemyss Ware pottery Wemyss plate of Dysart hand painted by Nekola
Moment in Time1883 – Karel Nekola comes from Bohemia to Kirkcaldy to decorateWemyss Ware pottery Pottery workers
Moment in Time2,000 BC – burial at Oriel Road, Kirkcaldy Bronze Age pot and dagger found in 1931
Moment in Time1963 – Beatles play in Kirkcaldy Beatlemania in Carlton Cinema on 6 October 1963
Moment in Time1826 – last fatal duel in Scotland
Moment in Time1931 – Celtic goalkeeper John Thomson killed tragically in OldFirm match John Thomson’s Scotland jumper, cap and medals
Moment in Time1304 – Edward I grants rights to a yearly fair (Links Market)
Moment in Time1847 – Nairn’s Folly, Scotland’s first floorcloth factory built Floorcloth – forerunner of linoleum Floorcloth banner Nairn’s first factory in 1860s
Moment in Time1847 – Nairn’s Folly, Scotland’s first floorcloth factory built Floorcloth banners on parade
Moment in Time1847 – Nairn’s Folly, Scotland’s first floorcloth factory builtCork model of Portuguese cork plantationMade by a Barry’s employee
Moment in Time1644 – Kirkcaldy becomes Royal Burgh 19th century Kirkcaldy Provost chain
Moment in Time1994 – Raith Rovers win League Cup
Moment in Time1835 – whaler Viewforth trapped by ice in Davis StraitsOther Kirkcaldy whaling ships, eg. Chieftain (left) and LordGambier (right) - both were wrecked in 1862
Moment in Time1918 – Ian Couper Nairn killed near end of First World War
Moment in Timec1460 – Ravenscraig Castle built
Moment in Timec1590 Law’s Close/Merchant’s House built at harbourHouse renovated in 1990s. Important example of earlymodern merchant’s house. Built by David Law, merchant.Display will look at trade in 16th/17th centuries.
Moment in Timec1590 Law’s Close/Merchant’s House built at harbour Painted image of ship was uncovered on upstairs wall. 1670s naval chart of Finland also found.
Moment in Timec1590 Law’s Close/Merchant’s House built at harbour Prime Gilt Box
The People’s Pick – choose your favourite painting