50 years ago: The storm that wrecked A H McIntosh’s factory

Fife Free Press - January 1968, huge damage at A. H. McIntosh factory after worst storm in living memory
Fife Free Press - January 1968, huge damage at A. H. McIntosh factory after worst storm in living memory

Fife may be facing a wintry blast right now, but, 50 years ago this week, the weather took a severe turn.

The storms of January 1968 were the worst in living memory, and caused major damage to houses, buildings, parks, and schools across the district.

Fife Free Press - January 1968, report on worst storms in living memory

Fife Free Press - January 1968, report on worst storms in living memory

The A.H. McIntosh factory on Victoria Road was one of the worst hit.

Reports of the damage were estimated at £30,000 – a significant sum of money five decades ago – and the workforce responded by turning out in huge numbers to get the business back up and running.

Over 500 workers turned up to tackle the debris and ensure the furniture manufacturer could get its orders out.

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.

The basement flooded and water damage ruined stock.

R.W. Adams, financial director, said it ‘looked as if a bomb had hit the place.’’ - indeed, residents spoke of ‘’two explosions’’ during the night.

The consequences could have been much worse – by good fortune, Sunday was the only evening when there was no night shift at the factory.

The damage impacted on some 400 staff who were sent home, but they were the first to step up and get the repairs underway.

Picks, shovels and pneumatic drills were pick up to clear the rubble which saw £30,000 of finished and practically completed stock to be destroyed when the basement stores were flooded.

A £20,000 extractor plant installed just six months earlier, was written off.

Bill Henderson (33) of Russell Place, Kirkcaldy, was one of the first on the scene - he was in charge of fire fighting at the factory.

He said the wind was blowing hard and ‘’there were slates flying all around.’’

Andrew Dewar, of Tyndrum Place, a maintenance electrician, logged little more than five hours sleep across several days as he and his team rigged up emergency lighting.

By the Tuesday, most of the debris had been cleared.

By the Wednesday, work began clearing the place out, and on the Thursday concrete was poured into the foundations.

By the weekend, the steel structure – which had been measured up as early as Monday – was set to go up.

Tom Lawson (37), machine setter of Dunearn Drive, said everyone wanted to help.

‘’We had to turn men away because of the danger to which they may have been exposed,;’’ he told the FFP.