Nostalgia: 1993 - when blizzards kept Fifers at home

With the centre of Kirkcaldy on lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis we look back to another time when the High Street was deserted – though on that occasion the atrocious weather was the culprit.

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 4:01 pm
A driver's view of the snow on the High Street in 1993.
A driver's view of the snow on the High Street in 1993.

In January, 1993, huge snow storms prevented many people from getting into the Lang Toun, while blizzard conditions kept most locals in the comfort and warmth of their own homes.

On Monday, January 11, most shops remained open, although trade was down, but 24 hours later it was a different story.

Travelling difficulties experienced by staff and the lack of people in the town centre meant many shops closed early.

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Looking down Whytescauseway.

The TSB bank in Kirk Wynd – now Wetherspoons – closed at noon, with Marks & Spencer shutting its doors at 1pm.

By mid afternoon the High Street was just about dead, with only a handful of shoppers shuffling through the slush and fewer and fewer shops remaining open.

Among those closed by 3pm were British Home Stores, Curry’s, Superdrug, Henderson’s the Jeweller, Dolland & Aitchison, Thomas Cook, The Early Learning Centre, the Leeds and the Alliance & Leicester building societies, Etam, Adams, and Christie’s 99p Store.

On the industrial front, things were a bit cheerier.

BA Chemicals in Burntisland reported some problems with the fluctuations in the electricity supply, leading to a brief shutdown of the plant on Tuesday, but a spokesman reported that despite these difficulties the plant was in production.

Firms in Kirkcaldy also reported business as usual, despite employees from outlying areas not being able to get in.

Fife House, the nerve centre of Fife Regional Council, closed on January 12 because of the conditions, but essential services carried on thanks to the “commendable” efforts of staff.

However, some 50,000 Fife pupils received an unexpected break in their studies because of the snow.

Light and heating failures throughout the Monday and the gloomy forecast prompted education chiefs to close 25 schools early and by Tuesday pupils were told to stay home.

Fife Regional Council’s then assistant director of education, David Hamilton, told the FFP: “We took the decision on Monday after the bus company said it couldn’t give us assurances that it would be able to get the kids home if we waited any longer.

“The fears turned out to be quite well founded!”

Kirkcaldy’s posties commendably braved the horrendous weather conditions to keep up the vast majority of their regular collections and deliveries.

Only the most rural areas had to do without a normal service, but it was a different story for the emergency services who were badly affected by the blizzard conditions, with many crew members left stranded at home while colleagues battled on.

Those who made it in to their stations faced a nightmare scenario as the number of emergency call-outs piled up, and power and telephone lines faltered as Fife’s service received 75 call-outs during the first two nights of the severe weather.