Nostalgia: Mopping up after 1968 gets off to a storm

This man returned to find his car flooded just half an hour after he parked.This man returned to find his car flooded just half an hour after he parked.
This man returned to find his car flooded just half an hour after he parked. | JPIMedia
In January 1968 a hurricane, described as “one of the worst storms in living memory”, left a trail of destruction from one end of Kirkcaldy to the other.

The storm hit during the early hours of Monday, January 15, causing damage to factories, houses and schools.

Hundreds of TV aerials were blown away by winds of hurricane force, slates were stripped from roofs and there were several instances of whole roofs being blown off with the result that some families had to be re-housed.

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There was widespread damage to lighter buildings such as garages, greenhouses and garden huts.

Flooding on Kirkcaldy Esplanade in February 1966.Flooding on Kirkcaldy Esplanade in February 1966.
Flooding on Kirkcaldy Esplanade in February 1966. | JPIMedia

Many were razed and whole sections of outhouses were found lying 20 or even 30 yards away from their original positions.

At various stages, the speed of the gusting wind was recorded at well over 100mph, uprooting many trees in its wake in streets and parks.

Fallen trees blocked nearly every main road out of town, with the main rail services more or less cut off.

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All the main roads in and out of town were impassable at some points and traffic was brought to a standstill as the Tay and Forth road bridges were shut down.

Local tradesmen were inundated with calls for assistance as businessmen and householders got down to assessing the damage.

One radio dealer alone had 250 calls – mostly from Kirkcaldy householders – asking them to carry out repairs to TV aerials. By Wednesday morning the figure had soared to 700.

Plumbers, joiners and glazers too were extremely busy, particularly in the High Street area where several shops had their plate-glass windows blown in.

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At the West End, the windows of a bakery and a furniture shop were demolished; between Charlotte Street and Whytescauseway the windows of a fashion shop and a newsagent’s were smashed; and between Whytescauseway and Kirk Wynd, the businesses affected were those of a fishmonger, a fruiterer and a shoe shop.

In the aftermath, mopping up and repair operations were hampered by faults in the telephone system and the fact that so many people wanted to use the telephones at the same time.

Although few business premises escaped scot-free, some were hit much worse than others and, at the furniture factory of A. H. McIntosh Ltd., in Victoria Road, reports indicated that damage was well over £30,000 – nearly £550,000 in today’s money.

The roof over the chair assembly department was blown in, creating complete havoc and, in turn, the floor of the department caved in on the machine shop.

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The basement flooded, causing water damage to stocks of finished furniture which was stored there. Mr Adams, the firm’s financial director, said later that it “looked as if a bomb had hit the place” and residents in the area certainly spoke of two “explosions” during the night.

Happily though, no-one was injured as, by fortunate coincidence, a Sunday was the only time of the week when there was no night shift at the factory.

In efforts to minimise any inconvenience to customers, the firm organised a crash repair programme with crews working night and day in an effort to allow production to resume as quickly as possible, but some 400 of the firm’s workers were affected by the situation.

The men who reported for work on the Monday morning were sent home and the firm’s misfortunes did not end at the factory.

Two of their large were vans overturned during the storm – one near Chapel village, and the other in Glenrothes.

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