New play recalls life in bottling plant

Former Methil woman Christine Eckhart who has written a play called 'Bless Them All' based on her time working at Haig's Bottling Plant in Markinch
Former Methil woman Christine Eckhart who has written a play called 'Bless Them All' based on her time working at Haig's Bottling Plant in Markinch

A former worker at the old Haig’s bottling plant in Markinch has written a play based on her time there.

Christine Eckhart, who was born and raised in Methil, started work at the plant as a teenager.

I had quite a lot of laughs when writing it because a lot of the old memories came flooding back

Christine Eckhart

Now living in Edinburgh, she said it was a trip back to Fife which inspired her to write ‘Bless Them All’.

She said: “I went to Methil Primary, which is no longer there, then Kirkland High School, and left with no qualifications.

“I had a couple of jobs at Williamson’s Ironmongers in Leven, then at Sammie Laurie’s grocery shop before starting at Haig’s as a bond worker.”

Christine, who has three grown-up sons, began work at the plant aged just 15 in 1966 and left four years later in 1970 to begin living and working in Edinburgh.

“I have really happy memories of my time there. What was quite unusual was that most of us were quite young.

“It was rare to see anyone older. Very few remained there for a number of years, so there was always a group ready to go out on a Friday night!

“We used to look forward to it.”

Christine also added the workforce was well looked after.

“Working conditions were excellent for a factory; health and safety checks were regularly carried out and we had a very good trade union to look after us.

“The pay was good too – it was double that of shop work – and we finished early on a Friday!”

Coming from a family with a strong writing tradition, Christine had dabbled with writing poems and short stories, and has an honours degree in English Literature from Aberdeen University.

“I was back in Markinch a few years ago and was having a look at the plant for old time’s sake,” she said.

“It was quite sad because it seemed so desolate when once it was so full of life, so I had the idea for the play and started writing it.

The play is set on a Friday at the plant and centres on a group of factory girls as they look forward to the end of the day, when they will head off to a hen night in Kirkcaldy.

“I had quite a lot of laughs when writing it because a lot of the old memories came flooding back,” said Christine. “I really enjoyed writing it.”

Now a full-time carer for her husband, Bruce, a disabled artist, Christine, who says: “I will always regard myself as a Fifer!” is hopeful that local people will read and enjoy the play.

“It can be read at Kirkcaldy Library and I’m still waiting to hear back from the Glenrothes Heritage Centre and also the Methil Heritage Centre, so hopefully, they will take it too so that it’s kept somewhere so if people want to read it they can.

“I really don’t know what will happen after that.

“If a local drama group or club wants to put it on, that would be up to them, really, but it would be nice if it happened.”