Christmas 1951: The devastating fire which destroyed Kirkcaldy's Burma Ballroom

Its name still evokes great memories across the Lang Toun, but it was 70 years ago this month that the Burma Ballroom burned down.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 20th December 2021, 12:40 pm

Fife’s biggest dance hall went up in flames in mid December 1951 - the first of two major blazes in the centre of town.

Spears Furniture Repository in Links Street also sustained major damage in a fire just days later.

The Burma was a second home to a generation and more of dancers. Situated on central Esplanade, it could accommodate up to 1000 people.

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Fire crews tackle the blaze which destroyed Kirkcaldy's Burma Ballroom

But its presence in the town ended with a dramatic SOS to the fire brigade - “The Burma Ballroom is on fire from end to end. Send all you have got.”

Fire broke out at 4:00am and, within hours, the venue, owned by T.B. Lambert, was little more than a shell.

The Maciocia family, who lived above the adjacent Trocadero Cafe, which they owned, were left homeless with their possessions destroyed.

Crews from Kirkcaldy Fire Station were joined by teams from Burntisland, Methil and Burntisland to try to tackle the blaze which could be seen from across the Firth of Forth.

An advert for the Burma Ballroom from the Fife Free P:ress

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The drama started with that message for help.

Ironically, it was sent by off duty fireman David Wilson who lived in nearby Cowan Street.

Three machines from Kirkcaldy, under Firemaster W.H. Moore, rushed to the scene. Tiles were exploding and falling on to the Esplanade, and wind fanned sparks and embers fell all around.

A message placed in the Fife Free Press after the devastating fire which destroyed the ballroom (Pic: Fife Free Press)

Almost immediately afterwards the ballroom roof collapsed.

Thick billowing smoke was driven northwards in one of the most devastating fires in town in recent years.

The flat above the Trocadero was gutted, but fire crews managed to save the hugely popular cafe.

The Viewforth Hotel, which formed part of the complex, also escaped serious damage

The ballroom and restaurant had been fully booked on the Friday night with a function for Fife Paper Mills going on until 2:00am

Residents in the immediate vicinity left their homes and, from the bus shelters on the opposite side of the Promenade, shiveringly spectated.

Hundreds of people were woken up by a series of minor explosions and many hurriedly dressed and flocked to the scene.

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