Kirkcaldy's Heritage in 50 Objects project reaches half way point

July 14, 2022 was a defining moment in the story ofKirkcaldy Civic Society’s project, Kirkcaldy’s Heritage in 50 Objects.

By Kirkcaldy Civic Society
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 5:21 pm
Volunteers Green was the first object in Kirkcaldy Civic Society's 'Kirkcaldy's Heritage in 50 objects project'
Volunteers Green was the first object in Kirkcaldy Civic Society's 'Kirkcaldy's Heritage in 50 objects project'

The day saw the publication of the 25th Object meaning that the halfway mark had been reached.

As the project progressed reaching this point took on the mantle of being a genuine target and landmark.

False or otherwise, in golfing parlance, it created the impression that we had reached the turn and are heading for home – then reality kicked in – we still have another 25 to go!

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Object 16 - John Barry, lino industrialist and object 25 - Caer Caledon.

Kirkcaldy has a fine but often spectacularly well-hidden and sometimes almost forgotten history therefore the work must go on and object 26 will be published on August 11.

However, a little time is available to reflect on what has been done, has been achieved, and has given the team the most pleasure and satisfaction.

The idea stemmed from efforts to find a novel way of celebrating Kirkcaldy Civic Society’s 50th ‘birthday’ in 2024.

The combination of being a golden anniversary and with just over 50 months available until the landmark date led to Kirkcaldy’s Heritage in 50 Objects being conceived and born.

While small in number the team have differing skill sets and being only three strong makes for easier and simpler decision making.

The projected vision was a celebration of a person, place or object, synonymous with Kirkcaldy being recounted and celebrated each month.

With luck and good arithmetic the publication of Object 50 should coincide with the anniversary month – and so the project was launched!

In some respects it was a difficult birth – Covid soon struck which made team meetings nigh on impossible in a face to face environment.

In those initial black days, the team had a reluctance to launch the project as people had more important things to consider in those pre-vaccinations days – survival for one.

It is glib to say that every cloud has a silver lining but it proved true in this instance.

Confined to home, several objects were completed giving a ‘bank’ of stories, thus slightly reducing the pressure of researching and writing a narrative every month.

There had always been an intention to bring ‘fresh voices’ to the stories by the inclusion of guest writers and they have played their part.

To date, six objects have been authored outwith the team and more will follow.

The dark skies eventually cleared and July 2020 saw the first object published.

The choice was the Volunteers Green by virtue of Kirkcaldy Civic Society having been formed with the express purpose of saving a major portion of it from being turned into a car park.

Subsequently there has been a broad spread of subjects with people and places being the most common theme.

Some have been well known, some less so, and one or two simply obscure – especially the 25th – Caer Caledon.

At the forefront of the project is simply not just repeating what is already known – but researching and uncovering fresh or little known details.

The photograph of Mary Campbell Smith, the author of The Boy in the Train, the pneumatic roller-skate, the ‘extended family’ of John Barry and Caer Caledon are all evidence of success in this endeavour.

Flexibility has been an important feature in that, while there was a planned running order, research has occasionally led to virtually unknown stories which have almost demanded to be included - the Elder Family, and again Caer Caledon, being two examples.

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The latter was completely unknown at the outset of the project.

There will always be favourite objects and/or ones that give great satisfaction.

Tracing members of Mary C. Smith’s family, interviewing the craftsmen who restored the Merchant’s House and speaking to and securing Michael Portillo’s contribution were amongst the most memorable.

The October 2021 publication of our project in History Scotland and the success of the re-enactment of the last fatal duel were highlights which helped encourage and drive the team on.

Above all has been the support of the community as gradually the project has gained traction and a following that make regular visits to the website and associated Facebook page.

We have received valuable assistance in publicising the project from the Fife Free Press and other Facebook sites associated with Fife’s history.

We gratefully appreciate the help and assistance which so many have provided.

If you are already familiar with our work we offer sincere thanks – if it is new to you – then please visit our site at www.kirkcaldyin50objects.com.

There you will find options ranging from a short audio, a blog, a summary of the essentials of each story, right through to the fully researched narrative featuring appropriate images.

This is our town and our heritage – enjoy your visit.

Here’s to the next 25!