The curious life of Kath Duncan in Kirkcaldy and beyond...

Kath Duncan addresses a crowd
Kath Duncan addresses a crowd

Research into the history of an infamous former resident of Kirkcaldy has turned up yet another connection to the Lang Toun.

Kath Duncan, an activist who was the scourge of the upper classes in 1920s and 30s London, is set to be the subject of a book and play from writer, Ray Woolford, who contacted the FFP asking for help in filling in gaps in her history.

Kath Duncan

Kath Duncan

George Proudfoot of Kirkcaldy Civic Society took on the task and was able to uncover more information on Kath’s colourful life.

Whilst living in Kirkcaldy and working as a teacher, Kath MacColl married London-based Sandy Duncan in 1923 before moving to London shortly after.

Interestingly, Sandy’s parents, David and Mary, were also married in Kirkcaldy on December 30, 1892 at Rosebank, where Mary lived.

David would go on to become station master at the now-closed Lindores Station.

George said: “It looks like Kirkcaldy was a transient phase in Kath’s life.

“Kath and her sister Margaret stayed here for a period of time in the late 1910s/early 1920s while they were both teachers, and indeed both were married in Kirkcaldy.”

After arriving in Deptford Kath became a ferocious defender of the poor.

Ray said: “She stood up and campaigned against low pay, the arms trade, poverty and slum landlords.

“Her health suffered terribly as she kept on being jailed, but it never put her off.”

“John Connell wrote the famous socialist anthem The Red Flag after seeing her speak and, after she was jailed in a landmark case in 1936, Oswald Mosley’s fascists sent her flowers.

“These were people that she had campaigned against but they couldn’t help but admire her.”

After living in London for a number of years, Kath returned north of the border and died of TB, aged 66, on August 15, 1954 at Stracathro Hospital in Brechin, though her death certificate states her “usual address” is 66 Ripley Street, London.

George said: “If I had to guess I would say she would have been buried in Friockheim – the Kirkden Parish – as she would have regarded it as her place of upbringing, as well as the place her mother’s family came from.”