The rich history of Kirkcaldy’s YWCA building

The former YWCA building on Kirkcaldy’s Esplanade is once again a thriving hub having lain empty for many years.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:22 pm
The Prince of Wales, leaves the YWCA on Kirkcaldy Esplanade in 1933.
The Prince of Wales, leaves the YWCA on Kirkcaldy Esplanade in 1933.

Now the Kings Live Lounge it is a place buzzing with activity, which is entirely befitting of its fascinating history, replete with a Royal seal of approval.

The building was custom built to house the burgeoning Kirkcaldy Girls’ Club in the early 1930s, an organisation which had been formed during the First World War.

In 1915 a conference of the Forward Movement Committee of the YWCA discussed the urgency of opening Girls’ Clubs in towns which had become training centres for new armies. The claims of Kirkcaldy were advanced and it was decided that a Miss Gilchrist, a staff member of the YWCA, should spend some weeks in the town exploring its needs and its potentials.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A foundation stone is laid by Bailie Percival to begin the building of the YWCA in 1930.

She interviewed employers of labour, spoke at factory meetings, and in a fortnight 200 girls had expressed their interest and a local committee was formed.

The enthusiastic group met twice weekly in the Adam Smith Hall for military drill, but it was requisitioned for the billeting of troops and the young ladies were soon rendered homeless.

The girls reorganised themselves into a singing class but numbers soon dwindled and the YWCA organisation turned to a Kirkcaldy woman, Isabel Young, to rebuild the moribund club.

In July, 1916, the Scottish Division of the YWCA arranged a meeting in the YMCA in Kirk Wynd at which was stressed the desirability of procuring a house or building of some kind to be open every night of the week for the use of young women and girls in view of the fact that Kirkcaldy was now a military training centre.

By the end of July the house at no 29 Hill Street, was rented by the committee for one year and at the first club meeting in early September over fifty girls attended the first club meeting, with the official opening ceremony conducted on October 4 by Lady Nairn.

But within three years it had become clear that the building could not cope and the girls found themselves making the short journey to their next home in ‘The New Club’ at 217 High Street.

Membership continued to expand to include children under eight years of age, young women over twenty and a Mothers of Members’ Association.

The various groups had their own president, secretary and committee and there was also a Girls’ Council.

But a rented building wasn’t enough for Isabel Young. Her dream was for the club to have its very own premises and on May 24, 1930, the foundation stones of the premises on the Esplanade were laid.

The official opening took place on November 28, 1931 and just two years later was given its greatest honour when, on March 31, 1933, Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, visited the club, watched many of the activities taking place and declared it to be “a wonderful place”. After his visit the club continued to thrive and grow in size.

For all her hard work and devotion Isabel Young was awarded an MBE in 1941. She died on July 6, 1960.